Consumers are growing increasingly disappointed with the post-purchase customer service they receive from online retailers during the holiday season. So how are you ensuring this year’s Cyber Monday is a day your customers remember for the right reasons?
With a forecast $7.7 billion in sales, Adobe claims that Cyber Monday 2018 will be the largest and fastest growing online shopping day in U.S. history – accounting for 6.2 percent of all online sales this holiday season. From November 1 through December 31, online sales are expected to increase by 14.8 percent compared with 2017.
But this surge in traffic could bring retailers more than they bargained for, especially if their deals and promotions aren’t supported by the right levels of customer service.
And that’s because over half (56 percent) of U.S. consumers say they were left disappointed by their online shopping experience during the last holiday season. The 2018 Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Study also finds that disappointment is growing – only 36 percent of consumers say that their 2016 online holiday shopping experience left something to be desired.
As the traffic to digital storefronts increases – 30 percent of American adults now shop online weekly (up from 19 percent in 2017) – so do the chances of an experience falling short somewhere along the customer journey. Seasonal surges in traffic can slow down a website and increased demand can play havoc on inventory levels.
However, what the study shows is that in the majority of cases, it’s the post-check-out experience where online sales channels are falling down with late or damaged packages, incorrect items, inaccurate delivery tracking and hidden shipping charges as the most often-cited issues.
“More and more, consumers are telling us that the post-purchase experience – what happens after the order – is every bit as important, if not more, than the shopping experience that occurs before the order,” said Lila Snyder, President of Commerce Services at Pitney Bowes.
Every online customer and every order at any time of the year should be treated as a priority, but with the holiday season in full swing the chances to delight or disappoint a customer increase exponentially.
Moreover, consumers are already taking mitigating steps to avoid any potential shortfall in service by prioritizing retailers that have a clear shipping policy, that guarantee a delivery date and increasingly, that offer a buy online and collect in store service.
Adobe’s research highlights that online retailers that also have a physical presence, and can therefore deliver better levels of after-sales service are going to be the big winners this holiday season.
“The ability to pick up online orders in-store within a matter of hours can’t be underestimated,” said John Copeland, head of Marketing and Customer Insights at Adobe.
But only the biggest names in retail can boast both an off- and online presence and this could leave smaller e-tailers at a disadvantage.
To help overcome this growing pain point in the online retail customer service and to help smaller firms compete with bigger rivals, Sitel Group’s software venture, Innso, has developed the new Tracker module. As a bolt-on part of our customer experience (CX) software platform, it provides retailers’ customers with a real-time view of their order – from validation to delivery. It can be sent via any digital channel and agents can support it by sending further SMS alerts if need be for added piece of mind.
And in the event of a delivery not reaching the customer or arriving in a less than perfect state, Tracker also enables a contact center agent to place the order again with a single click. It links directly with warehouse, inventory and logistics. There’s no need to cancel the order and input the information again, manually, or for the customer to have to go through check out a second time. What’s more, as Tracker also displays a customer’s full order history alongside the problem purchase, an agent could also add a discretionary gift to the delivery to compensate, knowing that the customer will appreciate it. Or, in the case of the item being out of stock, offer an alternative that’s in line with that person’s tastes.
As a result the module reduces call handle time, increases the chances of a positive call resolution and removes another potential pain point from the customer journey.
And if retailers don’t have the tools to solve these problems, the penalties can be huge. Nine in 10 online shoppers in the U.S. that responded to the Pitney Bowes survey say that when they have a bad experience they are likely to take action, be it posting their disappointment to social media or advising their friends and family against using that retailer in the future.
Bear in mind also that on average a consumer will read six online reviews before they feel they can trust a business sufficiently to make their initial purchase.
From tracking sales activity in real time and providing a unified real-time view of customer communications across all channels, to automating workflows, inventory management, analytics and quality and customer satisfaction monitoring, Sitel Group’s CX software platform can help your business deliver on customer expectations on Cyber Monday or at any other time of the year.