Another Challenging Peak Season Presents CX Opportunities for Retailers

It's the time of year when leaves are starting to change and inboxes are filling up with pre-Black Friday deals, which means we’re well into retail peak season. Last year’s peak season presented new challenges for retailers of all sizes, from overcoming pandemic-related in-store shopping restrictions and supply chain issues to creating new experiences like drive-up order retrieval.  

This year promises more of the same challenges, but retailers are more experienced at delivering those customer experiences this time around. That makes the 2021 peak season a great time to focus on measurement and improvement of those experiences.  

Improving the Omnichannel Retail Experience 

Delivering a seamless omnichannel customer experience is more important than ever this year. Online shopping and non-store alternatives increased by a whopping 23.9% and one in two US consumers used curbside pickup more during the 2020 holiday season than before, and those trends are on track to continue this year.  

Retailers have done a commendable job making the customer experience feel seamless as customers switch from websites to apps to chatbots to call centers. Internally, however, all of these different experiences often come at the cost of siloed data and a siloed view of the customer experience. 

Download our latest retail eBook, "5 Strategies to Conquer Peak Season CX"

With at least 31 customer touchpoints in the customer journey, there’s a plethora of ways customers are sharing their experiences in those moments. For many retailers, the main source of feedback is surveys. 

While surveys are useful tools, they don’t meet the need for a fast-paced, omnichannel view of the customer experience. McKinsey found that only 7% of customers are represented in survey responses. If you’re basing 100% of your customer experience measurement and improvements on this, then you’re approaching your analysis of the customer journey with blinders on. 

Adding New Analytics Capabilities Can Deliver Quick Value 

Much of the data that is being generated along the customer journey is unstructured data, which is the text, audio, and imagery that traditional analytics methods can't take advantage of. To unlock the insights in these sources requires either lots of manual work to read and extract the contents of each entry or it requires machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

The next-generation of AI-powered text analytics leverages natural language understanding to provide better analysis of unstructured data. They bring different methods together (i.e. unsupervised, supervised, and semi-supervised models) that enable more use cases beyond rules-based text analytics, making it easier to analyze all of your different sources of customer feedback. 

Adding in AI-powered text and speech analytics capabilities allows retailers to go beyond survey results as they dig into customer feedback data.  

Where should retail CX professionals look for insights once they add in these text analytics capabilities? 

  1. Survey Verbatims 

Before going beyond your surveys, make sure you’re getting the most value you can out of them possible. Many surveys have free text responses and analyzing those manually can take days or weeks. By then, the insights are often too late to matter. Use text analytics to extract the key themes and trends from your surveys. This helps add color to the scores you receive in surveys and provides context for why scores may be trending up or down. 

  1. Contact Center Transcripts 

Many Contact Centers are using speech and text analytics to transcribe and mine conversations for trends and to ensure agents are performing up to company standards. The insights from these conversations sometimes don’t make it out of the Contact Center, however.  

CX teams can leverage Contact Center transcripts to uncover trends faster than survey verbatims, in large part because there’s a higher volume of customer interactions. This helps CX teams understand what’s a genuine issue and what’s an isolated experience. 

  1. Social Media 

Customers don’t always take the time to share their experience through surveys or by calling in to the Contact Center, but many do share their experiences with their networks through social media. Staying on top of social media can provide insights that those other channels may be missing out on. 

  1. Product Reviews 

Many customers associate their experience with a brand with the products they purchase from them. In-store, online, customer service, shipping, and returns experiences often make their way into product reviews. Mining these reviews can help uncover insights across the entire customer journey alongside product-level insights.  

Conquer Peak Season CX Analytics  

Peak season adds another layer of pressure for retailers, who are not only competing with other retailers on price as everyone puts forth their best deals of the year, but also on experience. Providing a safe and satisfying shopping experience is critical this year, and it will take great CX analytics across the entire omnichannel customer journey to understand where touchpoints are falling short and where they’re soaring. 

To learn more about how analytics can make a difference this year, watch our on-demand webinar featuring Ben Thompson, Director of eCommerce Analytics at Bluestem Brands. 

Watch our recent retail-focused webinar, "Deliver a Seamless Peak Season with Better Customer Analytics"

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