By Jack M. Germain

Aug 11, 2020 4:30 AM PT

If the ongoing struggles amid the pandemic have taught retailers anything, it’s the need to automate their customer service experience. Customer Experience Automation (CXA) makes the difference between hanging on to close and securing more loyal customers.

CXA can revitalize a merchant’s customer relationship process to increase sales now – and far beyond the current buying trends the pandemic is creating, agreed William Taylor, senior advisor VelvetJobs.

This latest customer experience formula should include two key ingredients: efficient contactless pickup and delivery procedures, and contactless payment for in-person purchases. The pandemic has made these requirements non-negotiable between the trader and the buyer.

“Consumers want safety, and they want to know that when they have to touch something, it’s sanitized,” he told CRM Buyer. “There is nothing more reassuring than their own phone. What used to be more of a practical option has now become a security device.”

Pushing new limits

During the pandemic, curbside collection in retail stores has skyrocketed 208%. Compare that with a 2019 study that predicted that within a year, 25% of consumers would participate in curbside collection. With this year’s challenges, that percentage has more than tripled.

CXA can prepare for the future of contactless delivery and pickup. It enables store operators to streamline the communication process by ensuring consumers are aware of the times, locations and overall logistics of a business process.

Improving the customer relationship process is not just preparing the future of contactless delivery and pickup. It is also preparing for the future of contactless payments.

The pandemic has only accelerated the growth of contactless payments to consumers. Well-known actors such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google pay all reported growth. At the same time, small businesses are also using mobile payment companies to contactless payment experiences.

What CXA provides to traders

Automation of the customer experience allows companies to maintain personal and human interaction; what all consumers want. It comes through the contactless delivery and pickup experience, meeting a customer’s preferences and needs across all channels, according to Jason VandeBoom, CEO of ActiveCampaign.

“Rather than over-automating the experience, CXA allows teams to combine the best of automation with a personal touch so that even low-resource teams can differentiate themselves,” he told CRM Buyer.

They can do this in different ways. The first is to send personalized SMS updates to customers regarding their delivery. One variation is to check in with the customer after pickup is complete.

A second approach leverages purchase data to personally engage with consumers on the digital platforms they want messages on. For example, Whole30 saw its revenue increase by 10% by personalizing its Facebook posts based on customer behavior, VandeBoom noted.

A third method is to use predictive content to recommend the right product at the right time. This allows customers to easily add additional items to their order.

Pandemic-induced strategies

CXA radically changes the shopping experience, says Maksym Babych, CEO of product development company SpdLoad. His company worked on developing contactless retail long before the pandemic quarantine.

The elements required in today’s world include two essential elements. One is chatbots with AI content recommendations. The other concerns drones and delivery robots.

“So this prognosis is more than real, as the technologies focus on delivering a person-centered experience,” he told CRM Buyer.

The coronavirus pandemic is the catalyst for the way we all do business. This has undoubtedly paved the way for big changes in the way consumers spend and pay, added Allan Borch, growth hacker and founder of Dotcom Dollar.

“The increase in curbside recycling reflects a wider trend involving contactless payments,” he told CRM Buyer. “Until an effective vaccine is found and made available to the public, we can expect people to continue to use all alternatives to the traditional in-person shopping experience.”

How chatbots work for CXA

Most companies involved in contactless delivery and pickup should start chatbots to optimize communication, according to Anthony Mixides, CEO / Founder of The London Vape Company. Store operators who create chatbots should keep several things in mind, he suggested.

Using a database of customer queries, complaints and questions can be uploaded to chatbots where they can then provide answers to over 90% of typical user queries. This eliminates the need to email your business and / or speak to someone on the phone.

“It’s just the way our growing anti-social consumers like it,” he told CRM Buyer.

Stores can use chatbots to immediately entice customers to answer common questions. In e-commerce in particular, the less consumers have to think, the happier they are with your business and customer service, he added.

However, chatbots will not be suitable for all consumers. Some customers want to speak to a human being and / or have a more complex query. In this case, you can use screen queries to filter customer needs. Filter those who need additional assistance to the right agent using advanced routing strategies to ensure they receive the correct assistance.

“Chatbots can bring together so much [customer] information before submitting it, giving the agent a lot of the information they need, instead of frustrating the client by asking the same questions a previous human would have asked, “Mixides noted.” There is nothing worse than explaining your problem to three different people in three different departments. ”

Continuous growth to come

Options such as online shopping and in-store collection or BOPIS are now considered must-haves for physical stores, added Babych of SpdLoad. A recent study by Invesp, a website conversion optimization intelligence provider, confirms this essential, Borch suggested.

This study shows that 67% of U.S. buyers have used BOPIS in the past six months. The study also predicts that 10% of all sales will be made through the concept of “ click and collect ” by 2025.

Curbside pickup has become popular with retailers, restaurants, and grocery stores. It’s easy to see why this is happening, he observed.

“This option is convenient for shoppers, limits congestion in stores and minimizes human interactions. The introduction of customer experience automation will only serve to make curbside collections more efficient while protecting employees and customers, ”Borch said.

The bottom line is that curbside pickups, BOPIS, and other contactless payment options will continue to be in increasing demand. Adding customer experience automation will only make these services more valuable to buyers in the United States and beyond, he pointed out.

C-Stores also deleted

PDI, a technology company that provides supply chain, ERP, loyalty and fuel solutions to convenience stores, recently announced a partnership with Vroom Delivery that allowed c-store customers to order from the advance, pick up at the curb and deliver. This is especially important in helping communities during the coronavirus crisis, according to Erin Farrell Talbot, founder and president of Council Farrell Talbot.

It is a mobile ordering platform specially designed for the convenience store industry. It provides these small in-store retailers with a much-needed CRM solution to fight the pandemic and offer customers a safe alternative to purchase essentials instead of having to go to a store.

“It also helps combine loyalty, online ordering, pickup and curbside delivery to enable these small online stores to provide a good customer experience; and it all relates to the back office of an online store operator, ”she told CRM Buyer.

How to use CXA

Retailers need to think about how physical locations play a role in their customer relationship journey. Digital is the gateway to curbside pickup. Therefore, your app and website must meet customer needs first. This includes communicating the process and inventory availability, according to Anthony Trupiano, sales manager at Verint.

“Having a customer add items to the cart only to find them unavailable for the sidewalk quickly leads to frustration, a lower likelihood of return visits and fewer recommendations,” he told CRM Buyer.

Once an order is placed, it is essential that information continues to flow to customers and to do at least these two things. First, coordinate order confirmation, order status, and other pre-pickup details. Second, explain the process, telling customers where to pick up when they arrive and what is needed to alert your team in stores.

Based on visualizing curbside pickup through a customer experience lens, Trupiano offers four CX best practices to create a fulfillment experience buyers will remember:

  1. Follow the customer’s journey from initial digital interaction to sidewalk pickup.
  2. Measure across digital channels and understand the resulting tactical, operational and strategic opportunities. Focus on how digital is helping or hurting BOPIS and curbside collection experiences. Focus on process clarity, inventory availability, identifying / correcting technical issues, etc.
  3. Understand customer perception from order placement to order picking Pay close attention to improvement opportunities related to process communication, employee feedback, and service level standards, and configure that process to allow rapid action.
  4. Implement a closed-loop management process to follow up on consumers who have not had a satisfactory experience (e.g. wrong / incomplete order, associates not following safety protocols, the process took too long time, etc.).

The selective collection customer journey

“Curbside pickup offers the unique opportunity, when done right, to offer customers the right mix of speed, convenience, safety and the associated interaction to help brands differentiate themselves with CX. », Concluded Trupiano.



Jack M. Germain has been a reporter for ECT News Network since 2003. His main areas of interest are business computing, Linux and open source technologies. He is an esteemed critic of Linux distributions and other open source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Send Jack an email.


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