The Retail Omnichannel Has Been With Us For Years, But Retailers Still Fail

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania recently published a paper in their Knowledge @ Wharton journal focused on the failure of retailers to adopt a omnichannel service style even though the benefits of doing so have been clear for at least six years.

Wharton researchers believe that many retailers are finding it extremely hard to deliver a true omnichannel experience that approaches what customers expect so they prefer to hide their failings or just rename the strategy.

In the Wharton paper Beth Ann Kaminkow, former executive vice president of the Westfield shopping centre company and currently COO of Wearable Experiments, a wearable technology firm, said: “We’re a long way off” from a true omnichannel experience.” Kaminkow added: “There’s still distance; it’s way off in the future. That’s why people prefer to rename it or not talk about it.”

What is the problem that Wharton is identifying?

The paper suggests that retailers selling shoes is a good place to start. Walk into a shoe store today and the experience is almost exactly the same as you might have known 20 or 30 years ago - before the Internet and social networks. Before all the multiple information channels we now have, you walked in the store, tried on a pair of shoes and bought them if they felt OK. In 2016 this is still how most people buy shoes.

Wharton identifies three areas that are blocking true omnichannel adoption:

1. Integration of the front-end and back-end; it’s hard to create a complete picture of your stock and supply chain and most retailers manage by carrying more stock than they need. It’s expensive to improve this, but essential if online is to be blended with the physical retail store.

2. Finding the right expertise; most tech and CRM or supply chain experts are involved in technology companies, not retailers. Many retailers struggle to hire the right skills and find that contracting expertise is expensive.

3. No industry collaboration; in some areas of retail it might be beneficial for all competing retailers to work together to improve their area of the market, but there is very little collaboration and just a strong sense of competition between brands.

I thought that there was a particularly important comment within the Wharton paper where it asks the question, if we were building this retailer from the ground up today then how would the online service work and what would customers really want from a physical store? It’s a good question because it is clear that customers want both, but in an omnichannel world the purpose of the physical store may no longer be just for sales alone.

The Wharton paper is a fascinating exploration of the retail omnichannel and how some retailers might need to just create a new ‘blank slate’ strategy if they want to succeed in future. You can read the complete paper on Knowledge @ Wharton here


Changing The Retail Banking Customer Experience

In Mike Purvis's latest blog, Mike writes about a recent interview given by Alice Milligan, Chief Customer and Digital Experience Officer at banking giant Citi in which she highlighted 3 main areas of focus for the bank over the next couple of years.

They include:

  • Better understanding the customer journey
  • Removing hurdles that customers find when doing business with Citi
  • Enhancing the mobile experience

You can read the full post here...


Webhelp supports digital innovation at Viva Technology Paris 2016

Paris, May 18, 2016 - Webhelp, Europe’s third largest customer experience and BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) company, is offering start-ups involved in digital transformation the opportunity to showcase their ideas to some of the world’s leading companies and venture capitalists at the inaugural Viva Technology summit in Paris in June.

The summit runs from June 30-July 2 and is expected to attract more than 30,000 visitors. Webhelp will join global brands such as Orange, BNP Paribas and Accor Hotels to host co-working and demonstration laboratories with young businesses which are emerging as ones to watch in digital transformation. Webhelp is inviting start-ups to enter a challenge-based selection process which will result in 50 companies being chosen to join the outsourcer at its Customer Experience Lab.

Olivier Duha, Webhelp co-founder and president, said: “Webhelp leverages the best people, technology and ideas to allow us to engineer the ultimate in customer contact experience. VivaTech will see us bring together our clients, which include some of the world’s leading companies, with next level start-ups at the forefront of digital transformation. With the combination of buying power and tomorrow’s technology all in one room, we hope to create an explosion of inspiration and an unparalleled growth opportunity for these young companies.”

Webhelp has set the following six challenges:

Social selling – How to generate sales through social media?

Seamless omni-channel customer experiences – How to support seamless customer experiences?

Augmented and virtual realities in customer experience – How to enrich customer experience and create value?

Uberisation – Is customer service next? – How to help traditional models to reduce costs and improve experiences?

March of bots – Is this the future of customer service?

Big data + customer experience – Big customer experience?

The winners of each section will receive the following:

• An invitation to join other winning startups in the Webhelp “Customer Experience” Lab at Viva Technology Paris 2016

• The opportunity to work with Webhelp’s global R&D team in our development lab to work on and test their product

• An invitation to an exclusive event with Webhelp’s founders, Olivier Duha and Frederic Jousset, and representatives of our major investors KKR who will discuss their startup experiences and offer advice

• The opportunity to make joint proposals with Webhelp for their product to select clients from Webhelp’s 300 strong client base

The closing date for entries is May 31, 2016. For more details and to submit an entry please click here

 

Press Information:
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact
Heather Astbury, head of PR at Webhelp, on +44(0)7825 593242 heather.astbury@uk.webhelp.com


How Can You Measure Self-Serving Customers?

In my last blog I talked about how customers are actively choosing to help themselves before calling a customer service channel for help. It’s a natural change in the way people look for help and smart companies are ensuring that when customers attempt to look for support information on products they actually find what they are looking for.

But how does this change the existing support channels?

To start with, it is likely that more trivial questions are being answered via self-service more often. This should allow the contact centre team to assume that customers coming through to them have more detailed questions and that the customer has usually tried to resolve the problem first.

This is an important point to remember, as the customer may in fact be frustrated that they could not find the information the needed. The customer needs to be treated with even more respect than usual as the typical ‘have you tried resetting it’ type of question might offend them – especially if they have just spent an hour scouring the Internet for advice only to end up calling your helpline.

More complex enquiries becoming more common is great news for contact centre teams as it means they get more interesting problems to deal with. However, this will usually mean that advisors need to spend more time with customers. This can affect how you traditionally measure the performance of the contact centre so it is likely that as more customers engage in self-service you will need to review your metrics.

In addition to advisor interactions taking longer there is also the opportunity to spend time helping the customer know how better to search for help in future, especially if a customer has only called because of a fruitless hour searching for help online. Helping customers to help themselves better can defuse a tense situation with a frustrated customer on a call and ensure that they don’t need to call in future.

This can exacerbate the issue of metrics though.

If advisors are spending time helping customers to help themselves in future and working through more difficult problems because self-service is filtering out many of the more routine calls, then your Average Call Duration will be through the roof.

Instead of worrying about the impact on existing metrics design new ones for this new environment. Focus on metrics that reward contact centres and advisors for adding value and helping customers help themselves. The old metrics might have worked when customers called for help as a first port of call, but now customers are calling only when they can’t resolve a problem. It’s time to start changing how you measure the activity of your customer experience advisors.


[Infographic] From Problem Solver to Digital Coach

Continuing on with our “digital coaching” to self-serve theme, we thought it would be interesting to look back at the changing role of the customer experience advisor over the years and how it has evolved.

The contact centre advisor role has come a long way over the last 50+ years...

Back in the 1970's advisors were very much focused on transactional telemarketing activity, evolving to incorporate customer service in the 1990's through to omni-channel management in recent years and looking ahead, possibly the biggest evolution of all - that of coaching customers to self-serve online.

So take a look back in time now with our handy new info-graphic which you can view by clicking the link below.

Click here to access the full infographic


[Infographic] From Problem Solver to Digital Coach

Continuing on with our “digital coaching” to self-serve theme, we thought it would be interesting to look back at the changing role of the customer experience advisor over the years and how it has evolved.

The contact centre advisor role has come a long way over the last 50+ years...

Back in the 1970's advisors were very much focused on transactional telemarketing activity, evolving to incorporate customer service in the 1990's through to omni-channel management in recent years and looking ahead, possibly the biggest evolution of all - that of coaching customers to self-serve online.

So take a look back in time below with our handy new info-graphic...

Download our FREE Digital Coaching paper here


The Golden CX Rule Gamers Can Teach Other Industries

Around 85% of the top 700 grossing apps in the world are games.

What does this say?

Well to start with it shows that games are a great way to make money because these days a game developer will often give away the game and make money from in-game purchases. Secondly though, it suggests that almost every smart phone has at least one game installed.

Gamers are all ages and can spend nothing or spend a lot on their gaming hobby. The games industry is often overlooked by those who don’t spend time playing games, but in revenue terms you can combine the global music business and Hollywood movies and games are still worth more – playing games is a serious business.

But gamers are a very special kind of customer. They want customer service quickly when something goes wrong. If a gamer needs to spend hours getting help then they will be lost to the game. They might not try again, meaning they might never return to that game and all those revenue opportunities vanish.

There is one golden rule about helping gamers that is now being taken seriously for all forms of customer service and this is to ensure that the customer never has to leave the channel they are inside.

Gamers using a console game can usually stay inside the game and use text to ask for help. Gamers using an app-based game will rarely stay in the game if the only way to get help is to exit the app and then to make a phone call.

We have all seen poor service across channels. This week I asked on Twitter for help with a product I recently purchased. The response was an email address. I replied saying that I’m using Twitter because the email response was very poor. They responded with a phone number, which doesn’t sound like progress, but it was a direct number to their headquarters and helped, but the lesson here is that everything should have been handled in the channel that I chose.

More customer service executives should start playing games and seeing how these extremely demanding customers not only demand service quickly, but across a variety if channels and – most importantly – they usually want it inside the environment where they are spending time. If you ask your customers to put down your product while they ask for help then they might never pick it up again.


Webhelp UK announces appointment of Matt Camille as Account Development Director

Leading business process outsourcer, Webhelp UK, has announced the appointment of Matt Camille as account development director. Matt is responsible for the strategic development and growth of Webhelp’s increasing client portfolio; working closely with them to understand their business challenges and provide the right solutions.

Matt joined Webhelp in 2015 after spending 5 years as vice president of strategic accounts at Telepeformance in France, where he was responsible for managing the delivery and on-going development of key accounts in the telecoms and financial verticals both domestically and across Europe.

Matt comes to Webhelp with 20 years of experience working in customer management, having began his career at Convergys as an advisor and quickly moving into operational management and leadership roles with responsibility for key accounts across a variety of service sectors. In 2004 he became account director and owned the day-to-day relationship and strategic development of its Orange UK account, where he played a key role in migrating the PAYG customer service operations to India which grew to over 1500 advisors within only three years.

Having moved to 24/7 Customer in 2007 he took responsibility for developing strategic UK accounts; working with his clients to leverage the company’s growing capability in predictive analytics to provide valuable insight into customer behaviour in an effort to drive NPS and improve customer experience.

David Turner, Webhelp UK CEO, said:

"The arrival of Matt is part of our plan to attract the best industry talent and to support the development of our transformational outsourcing capabilities. We have doubled the size of our UK business over the last 3 years and expect this growth to continue as organisations look for outsourcing partners who know how to create exceptional customer experiences, and are prepared to co-invest in delivering significant change and contract based on outcomes."

“With almost 20 years customer management experience, leading and developing outsourced relationships across a variety of industry sectors, we are pleased to welcome Matt to the team and feel that his expertise will be invaluable as we work with our clients to help them transform their businesses.”

Matt commented:

“Webhelp’s reputation for best-in-class operational delivery and providing intelligent business solutions, as well as the company growth and expanding European footprint are what attracted me to work for the company. Within a very short time I realised that Webhelp operated on a different level to any previous outsourcing company I have worked for in terms of its ability to deliver differentiated solutions and real business transformation for our clients with tangible benefits."

“Over and above the business capabilities, I have been impressed and delighted to see how the company values are lived and breathed by the employees, working with people who show respect and support each other in a very dynamic business environment.”

 

Press Information:
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact
Heather Astbury, head of PR at Webhelp, on +44(0)7825 593242 heather.astbury@uk.webhelp.com


Customers Are Demanding Great Self-Service Support

What’s the first thing you do when you have a problem with almost any product?

These days most of us turn first to Google for help. It could be getting your new food mixer to work, changing the settings on your iPhone, or understanding what a flashing light on your car dashboard really means.

Google, or your preferred search engine, is full of information on everything imaginable and smart companies have realised that many customers are happy to help themselves when they have a problem. If a customer naturally turns to Google and asks a question before they go to a customer service channel then there are two possible outcomes to the situation, they find an answer and resolve the issue or they get frustrated searching for help and contact the customer service team already annoyed with the product.

This is quite a significant change in customer behaviour because there was an assumption in the past that if a customer needed help they would turn to the product manufacturer or retailer – where they bought the product - for help. Now there is a natural shift to self-service support driven by the customers themselves as a preference.

There are two important aspects of this for customer experience managers to think about:

1. How can the customer service be improved at the point the customer contacts a customer experience advisor, with the assumption now being that this customer has already tried to resolve the problem, and failed?

2. How can the company ensure that a customer searching for information on their products on generic search engines will find useful information?

The first point is all about ensuring that the advisor can be flexible in their starting point when helping a customer. In addition to taking the approach that the customer has probably searched for information they can also offer guidance on how to more easily find information in future.

The second issue is like an update of the old FAQ. Companies used to post an enormous list of Frequently Asked Questions online and hope that customers would trawl the data searching for an answer, but most customers don’t want to go to a corporate website and search inside an FAQ document. They will just ask Google the question and see what comes out.

Many companies have seen that this can be a useful deflection device. Every time Dell produces a new computer they create videos featuring common problems and post them on YouTube so customers searching for help can find them very easily. Similarly, Vodafone posts online videos featuring phone tips and tricks and how to solve common problems.

This approach clearly works. Just one look at the viewer statistics for companies producing online content like this shows that many videos have thousands of views – that’s potentially thousands of customers deflected away from needing to contact the customer service team.

But more importantly, the customer chose to go to Google before they called a customer service channel. If they found the right advice immediately then that’s a great customer experience even if they never interacted directly with your customer service team.


Are Apps Essential For A Great Retail Omni-channel Experience?

New research by PCM Research and ACI Worldwide suggests that only a very small minority of retailers have managed to achieve full omnichannel service for their customers. Incompatible systems, data integration, and an inability to track customers are all cited as reasons why retailers are finding omnichannel hard to implement. Fraud and security issues are also repeatedly raised as reasons why implementations have failed, or just not started.

Just 21% of the retailers in the research claim that they offer an omnichannel experience to their customers. Worryingly a further 46% said that they would not achieve it in the next year.

What’s really interesting though is that 63% of the retailers surveyed said that they are interested in alternative payment mechanisms and 53% are interested in mobile payments. This strong interest in new ways to pay demonstrates that many retailers believe omnichannel requires a completely new approach to payment in addition to service.

Why would this be important?

As expressed in the list of problems cited, if you cannot track or identify your customer then it is extremely difficult to create a fantastic omnichannel experience - allowing the customer the freedom to operate across various channels during a single transaction.

Consider the Starbucks app as an example of how this can be done well. It is possible to go and buy a coffee at Starbucks without their app, but to do so means going to a café and waiting in line. The app allows you to place an order before you arrive at the café, to pay using the app, and to track your spending for loyalty rewards. That means you get all your points and you never have to wait in line because you can order 5 minutes before arriving at the café and just step in, pick up your cup, then go.

This demonstrates that integrating payment into loyalty management can be an important way of creating an omnichannel environment, but using new payment mechanisms is not always essential. Apps however are a very useful way of being able to track information on your customer so that the best possible experience can be created, but do you think they are essential for a great omnichannel experience?

Leave a comment here with your views.