With the rise of online services and social media’s popularity, the retail industry as a whole has experienced a lot of changes. New channels for reaching customers and the adoption of e-commerce elements have led to new challenges the companies had to face.
Retail customer services is a department that has felt these changes the most. In-house retail call centers have to quickly adapt or become a burden for the company. What makes it worse is that the majority of customers report that their experience with customer support directly or indirectly affects their buying decisions.
If you want your retail contact center to be an effective part of your business, you need to be familiar with the obstacles it is facing. Let’s take a detailed look at some of the most common problems these departments face and some of the ways to solve them.
Challenges and Pitfalls Retail Call Centers Face
More often than not, retail call center challenges depend on the product type, store size, pricing policies, and the target audience. For now, let’s approach the basic general problems most companies face.
1. Consistent Service Through Multiple Channels
With the application of new and better ways to help your customers, it gets harder to provide the same experience through each of them. For example, if different people are responsible for online chat service and landline retail call center, it would require strict control to make sure both of them provide the same information in the same way.
Consistency control requires a lot of time and thorough testing. While it doesn’t seem too important at first glance, you have to keep in mind that nowadays clients are much more demanding and meticulous. Left unchecked, the consequences can range from worse customer experience to the overall loss of interest.
2. Finding and Hiring Professional Agents
With e-commerce call center industry constantly growing, it is becoming harder and harder to identify quality assets. Each new retail and customer service employee requires exhaustive training in the company-specific details. That’s why hiring someone who requires general industry training is more time-consuming and less profitable.
This problem is common for every industry with a saturated job market. The best solution is to find a good HR team first and give them some time. If they are familiar with the industry, they will be able to identify a talented and hardworking person that you would be able to count on. Again, don’t forget about the specifics of your company and choose the person that suits your line of work the best.
3. Analysis of Big Data Arrays
Assuming that the only job of a call center for a retail company is to provide a good customer experience is very shortsighted. While it is an important part of it, gathering data about sale rates, common questions and suggestions are arguably as important.
With the growing role and scope of the customer service, the amount of data they provide grows as well. On one hand, it is great, as the more data you have the more accurate your analysis would be. On the other hand, this makes the process more difficult and convoluted. You would need to hire a team of specialists if you don’t want to divert human and time resources from your main project directly.
4. Seasonal Nature of the Job
For most retail companies, customer activity fluctuates throughout the year. The most important factors that can be the reason for that are the specifics of the product use and the users’ preferences. Without delving into the specifics of the reasons any further, let’s review the consequences of seasonal activity.
The most important result of such fluctuations is the need for an additional workforce during certain time periods. These part-time employees need to be thoroughly trained in a short period of time, which often requires more resources and higher payment. Additionally, part-time workers are often not as loyal to the company and not as interested in promoting it.
5. Troubles Getting to Mobile Users
As the number of mobile users has already reached 3.7 billion and continues to grow, contact center services for the retail need to shift their attention towards them. What makes this task difficult are the technical challenges and the number of calls that go unanswered.
In order to make the transition easier, the best choice would be to implement smartphone-specific types of communication. Using instant messaging software, callback scheduling, and direct click-to-call provision will help you to reach these tech-savvy users.
Benefits of Outsourcing Contact Center Services for Retail
While outsourcing is not a miracle solution to all your problems, it will definitely help you with a lot of them. Most challenges on the list above can be conquered by picking the right outsourcing service. Let’s review how it can be achieved and what are the benefits of contact service outsourcing.
1. Focus on a Single Task
The outsourcing company focuses solely on the task you pose in front of them. In the case of retail call center outsourcing, the people you hire will concentrate on providing your customers with the best experience, employing new tactics and technology for the best efficiency, and control the consistency of each communication source.
Hiring an outsource company is similar to creating a new department at your company. However, the latter requires much more time, specific knowledge, resources, and a separate control system. With this much more demands, there aren’t many benefits an in-house team has to offer.
2. Experience in the Industry
If you use the service of a trustworthy outsource agency, you can be sure that you work with professionals in the field. This means that each person they hire in your stead knows what they’re doing and will do a great job.
This is also beneficial during the high season. Respectable outsource companies often have a list of employees that are willing to work part-time or on-and-off during certain months. So, you won’t need to spend more money to train someone you might never see again.
3. Direct Summaries and Reports
Outsource companies usually keep detailed and exhaustive statistics on each call. This amount of data will provide you with whatever information you need – from product popularity to common concerns and things to change in your operation.
Furthermore, a lot of companies are equipped with specific tools that allow them to analyze the data they have. So, if you play your cards right, you can get monthly or weekly reports on both the call center and your customers’ activity. As these companies deal with large data sets very often, the report on the calls you’ll get will be both full and comprehensive enough to make the right business decision.
4. Guaranteed Brand Loyalty
When you make a deal with an outsourcing company, one of the things you buy is their loyalty. Even if the same company works for two rival businesses, they would be obligated to represent both of them fairly and loyally. While this seems like a contradiction, there is nothing wrong about it. The outsourcing company has no real stakes in the competition, they just strive to provide the best service to each of their customers.
5. Resource Efficiency
Outsourcing call center companies (especially offshore ones) are much more cost-efficient than an in-house team. They already have all the tools they need and they provide them along with their human resources at modest rates. They can also ensure 24/7 support much easier thanks to different time zones.
An outsourced team is also much easier to scale. With the growth of your business, you won’t have to hire and train new employees – just sign a new contract and engage with more clients right away.
While customer support is an important part of every retail business, it is also among the most difficult and demanding ones to carry out. In our modern world of developing technologies and constant online presence, customer support has to change to be in line with these trends. Although it brings about additional challenges, it also results in higher satisfaction rates and better user experience.
Outsourcing these challenges is a smart and effective idea. Of course, some companies cannot be trusted and provide subpar services. However, with enough research, you can find a partner that will meet all your needs and supply you the most benefits for the best price.