The brands that deliver high-quality, digital and human-blended customer experiences will be best placed to navigate the months ahead, believes Webhelp’s Mark Guest, who shares three retail customer experience ideas that can be deployed.

I’ve been fortunate to spend time with retail leaders at various points this year to understand the challenges they face, and the opportunities these challenges present, as they support their businesses to navigate through another year of disruption, changes and pressures. 

Take customer confidence, which remains fragile at best, with confidence hitting a record low for four out of the last five months up to September 2022.  

This is something that is continually referenced in my conversations with retail leaders. Concerns about inflation and the subsequent impact on supply chain, product price and, ultimately, consumer confidence are commonplace, alongside the constant issue of attracting and retaining employees.

Successful transformation is within reach

There are a number of different factors that contribute to a successful transformation programme, including the digital customer experience, the in-store experience (if applicable) and online self-service, alongside the channel strategy that supports the customer journey, all of which need to be considered in the wider context of balancing the human with the digital.

And in terms of timing, it’s seldom been more important to think about transformation. 

In our research with CX leaders across multiple sectors, digital transformation was a common theme, with 92% telling us they plan to transform their customer operations within 12 months. 

Our work with The Very Group to continually evolve its transformation programme saw dramatic improvements in advocacy, loyalty and revenue, and acts as a good example of what’s possible in a large-scale transformation project.

Flexibility is key 

With 90% of CX leaders believing it is important to quickly flex and scale their operations in response to customer demand, the ability to rapidly deploy complimentary human and the digital customer service solutions is growing in importance.

The trigger here could be planned peak retail events such as one-off sales, the festive period or Black Friday, or unplanned factors such as increased contact from vulnerable customers, staff attrition or recruitment challenges.

Utilise specialist customer experience solutions

Retailers have a real desire to focus on what they do best – selling their brand and products to their customers.

The growth in the digital customer has presented a challenge here; there’s the explosion of data available and how to harness this, increasing regulatory and security pressures, and the management of often multiple digital and ecommerce platforms.

Innovative CX partners can support retailers to utilise the wealth of data available from front-line, real-time customer interactions and turn this into actionable insights, while digital content services through a combination of dedicated content managers and AI solutions can enable brands to serve the right products to the customer at the right time via their online platforms.

Whether it’s taking the next step on your transformation journey, supporting with resourcing issues or delivering game-changing analytics projects, there are lots of opportunities for retailers to enhance their customer experience with a blend of digital and human solutions – in spite of the challenging landscape through which we’re all currently navigating.

Mark Guest is managing director for the retail sector at Webhelp UK. 

He has a proven track record of leading, consulting and implementing successful customer experience transformation projects for clients in the retail sector and beyond.

Find out more about Webhelp and the game-changing customer experience solutions we offer for the retail sector on our website