Customer Service for Retail Utopia

Customer Service for Retail Utopia

service retail utopia

Written by Dave McCall, Senior Director, Service Cloud Practice at PolSource

Imagine a world where your customers interact with your brand like they do a loyal friend–they come for advice, they trust your intentions, and they come to you first. Imagine your customer service professionals having all the tools they need to not only help the customer with their current issue, but also marketing and selling to the customer organically. Imagine if customers felt like they were receiving white glove treatment even through fully-automated channels. Imagine if customer service drove repeat business, got people into stores, delivered preference information to marketing, and customers loved you for it. Your brand could get there. The technology exists and Salesforce is leading the way there. PolSource has the retail and platform expertise to implement the technology to optimize your agent and customer experiences.

Customers expect great service. It is no longer enough to provide great products and adequate levels of service. 80% say that “the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services” ¹.

There is little doubt that the way customers expect to be served will have been changed forever by the events of 2020. 36% of those working from home, said they would like to continue to work from home after the pandemic is over. Men 40.7% and women 32.5% ². We can anticipate that even after the pandemic is over that e-commerce use will continue to be above pre-pandemic levels, that customers will continue to expect services like buy online pay in store and curbside delivery. As servicers, we will need to continue to invest in servicing in these channels. On the other hand, customers already expect to have better in-store experiences than are generally available–being provided recommendations and selection like they receive online.

1) You Have to Start Somewhere

In order to be prepared for the future, we need to get caught up with today. That means getting the fundamentals right. Not only do we need to invest in Case Management, Knowledge Management, Workforce Management, Quality Management, Feedback and the Voice of the Customer. We also need to be performing all of these functions in every channel. Smart retailers are taking a new look at every channel which includes:

  • More automation in the IVR
  • Continuous improvements in online bots
  • Significant improvements in clienteling

On top of that, a Customer Mastering strategy is a must such that you can tie together the in-store customer’s point-of-sale purchase to their online purchases and their service experience to their marketing experiences.

2) Integrate All the Things!

Bringing Order Management and Payment into the CRM console is just the beginning. Agents and automated processes need to know much more about the customer. Bringing in Offer Management, Loyalty Management, and Inventory lookups allows for more thorough service experiences.

Bringing Service and Commerce together also offers benefits including co-shopping and order-on-behalf-of. Bringing Service and Marketing together provides another level of capabilities for both service agents and marketing managers. There are also places where the lines between groups get hazy. Is a tweet from a customer saying “I really want to buy…” an opportunity to market to that customer or to service that customer? Your Social Listening capabilities must be prepared to do either. 

And in your website and e-commerce, service ought not be an afterthought. We need to stop hanging customer service “off-the-end” of the website or app. Instead service should be integrated throughout. Agents can become a part of limiting abandoned carts and even increasing cart values.

3) Be Intelligent About Your Artificial Intelligence

I’ve already written about how I believe the Future of Service is More Human and how artificial intelligence needs to be a driving force to us delivering experiences that feel more human.

When it comes to our customer service experiences, we have an opportunity to put that into practice by making sure the customer feels known. We can personalize the service experience in both agent-assisted service and self-service by asking the customer fewer questions. Rather than asking what they want to return, we let them know that we know that they received something last week–”is this what you wish to return?” Beyond that, we should be able to predict which outcomes are most likely to satisfy.

Salesforce already offers machine learning recommendations throughout the agent console thanks to Einstein for Service. We can also work to match the request with just the right agent using some machine learning to increase customer satisfaction beyond just skills-based routing.

The capabilities described aren’t some mythical far-off land. These are available now. If you’re struggling to juggle the increased demands on your contact center and initiatives to improve, you’re not alone. These capabilities require the right technology implemented thoughtfully. We have been able to help brands determine reasonable roadmaps and delivery solutions on that roadmap. I would be happy to talk to you about how to plan to make these ideas a reality.

Want to learn more about commerce to achieve a retail utopia? Attend our upcoming webinar, Achieving Retail Utopia: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond.​​​​​​​ Join the industry experts from PolSource and Salesforce along with featured customer Nebraska Furniture Mart, May 6th @ 2 PM CT. Our webinar journey will cover the current challenges, solutions and future insights to evolve your Retail customer journey. Register now, no passport required.


1 – Salesforce State of Service – 4th Edition

2 – Prosper Insights & Analytics