Retail-ready: 5 non-voice CX solutions to prepare for the holiday rush

As this year’s holiday shopping season quickly approaches, concerned retailers are bracing for the impact caused by recent global supply chain issues. Cargo vessels filled with shipping containers of merchandise are anchored offshore at major U.S. ports, yet those goods aren’t reaching store shelves due to a lack of workers to unload the ships, warehouses that are already at maximum capacity, as well as a massive truck and driver shortage.

Customers will be disappointed to find that many products on their gift lists are out of stock in their favorite shops and that the delivery dates for online orders are potentially delayed. This will inevitably cause an onslaught of customer inquiries around product availability and delivery status tracking, but retailers might not have enough voice agents on staff to handle the ringing phones, and their frustrated customers are unlikely to be willing to wait on hold.

Because being proactive is key, smart retailers should take action now in order to deflect the impending surge in seasonal call volume and ensure they’re communicating with their customers for maximum satisfaction. To decrease the expected number of “Where’s my order?” and “Do you/when will you have this in stock?” phone calls, retail companies might consider adding one or more of the following digital CX solutions to their customer service strategy.

  1. Proactive SMS chat outreach. Through the use of AI and automation, a company can reach out to its customers and provide text message updates and information about an order. Convenient and timesaving, SMS is an ideal and increasingly popular communication channel between businesses and consumers.
  2. Social media for customer engagement. Social media pages are where many users share both their positive and negative experiences with brands. Analytics can help a company’s internal team filter through the posts and comments, identifying those that are actionable and flagging them for assistance. This allows for faster responses from the customer service teams, as well as higher consumer engagement on earned mentions.
  3. Social media as a sales channel. In addition to serving as a customer engagement environment, social media sites are also excellent places for brands to generate revenue. Many retailers increase sales simply by replying with a link or a coupon for a particular product underneath a shopper’s “Anybody know where I can find one of these?” post—and AI can help seek out those types of inquiries.
  4. Self-service options. When customers can easily find their own answers or resolve issues through non-agent sources such as FAQ pages, comprehensive knowledge bases, or peer discussion forums, they won’t need to dial into a company’s customer service line. Consumers also appreciate being offered choices such as video, chat, email, or other smart channels when attempting to solve for their needs themselves, so incorporating a few different options into a company’s webpage is highly recommended.
  5. Voice of the customer analytics. Implementing analytics to capture what customers are saying is an essential tool for improving CX. From a “Where’s my order?” email, to a “The product arrived damaged” chat, and finally to a “Thank you for sending a replacement so quickly, I love it!” post on a brand’s social media page, keeping track of each customer’s journey will impact the organization’s way of operating, and when done well, will improve metrics over time.

Although it’s unclear when the current global supply chain issues will be resolved, consumers are expected to continue purchasing holiday gifts as best as they can. Retail and eCommerce organizations that are prepared to proactively address the coming questions, concerns, complaints, and comments are those that will see the most successful shopping season.

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