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The Post-Pandemic Shopper, The Omnichannel Retail Contact Center, & Social Shopping

The landscape of retail has changed. The new normal is built around the post-pandemic shopper who demands new “convenience touchpoints” that are different from how we engaged before. The mentality is meet these needs or lose your customer base.

There are a few options to approach this. One method is using omnichannel contact center software. According to a McKinsey survey, 75% of Americans changed their shopping behavior when COVID-19 began, stating around 40 percent say they have changed brands, with the level of brand switching doubling in 2020 compared to 2019.

As retailers follow customers into the social space, the core idea behind social shopping is that individuals are influenced by their friends’ purchases and recommendations, while everyone shops from the comfort of their own homes.

So how should businesses reimagine the customer approach to retail, especially in the world of e-commerce? Let’s start with the rise of social shopping.

More and more, we see greater integration between social platforms and e-commerce. With technologies like ShopShops and TalkShopLive, almost anyone – from influencers to shop owners to amateur enthusiasts – can be show hosts. Brands and retailers have been pivoting to join this movement. This creates a virtual shopping experience that can be shared together by a social network of friends via TikTok, Instagram Live, and Facebook Live.

Shoppers can share, recommend, suggest, and comment on products or services with others via social media networks.

How does having omnichannel contact center software support social shopping? Here are a few reasons:

  1. Cloud-Based Agility: Moving to the cloud will allow for faster, easier deployments, seamless upgrades, flexible scalability, and reduced capital expenditures associated with on-premises systems.
  2. Connected Journeys: The contact center should support customer journeys across web chat and social messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and others.
  3. Omnichannel Unification: Shoppers will be coming in from many different channels, so it will streamline the customer experience to route interactions using the same logic.
    Additionally, your staff should manage the conversations within a single, unified console that can handle all channels.
  4. Customer Context: Agents must begin the conversation right where the customer left off online. When the customer’s needs are transferred to an agent in real time, your brand is creating a seamless transition from web to contact center. Remove customer stress, unneeded customer repetition, wasted time, and deliver a world-class customer experience.
  5. CRM Integration: Customer relationship management (CRM) system integration can improve the shopper experience by using CRM data to find the last person spoken to, use shopper purchase history to find the best expert, etc. In addition, once the connection occurs, your staff can access past interaction history and CRM information to understand the customer’s journey and deliver a more personalized experience.
  6. Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI can deliver next- best-action recommendations and assist in responses that will improve conversion rates, increase shopping cart value, and speed up responses.
  7. Real-Time Management: Supervisors should monitor messaging interactions in real time and assist if needed, even if they are not in the same location.
  8. AI and PCI Compliance: Intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) can automate payment processing across digital channels and reduce your compliance risk by collecting sensitive customer data without revealing it to a human agent. Make sure that the IVAs can easily integrate with your payment gateways.

A customer can buy something with a click of a button, but the emotional experience of shopping is what they crave. The key is to make sure we continue to remember the human side of retail and bring it back to modern convenience touchpoints, like social selling. It’s through human, personalized points of interaction that customer loyalty is built.

The biggest winners in a post-COVID world will be the retailers that turn their contact centers into the new front door to their business. These retailers will easily gain new market share as they align their businesses to how customers are actually purchasing, which now involves contact centers as an extension of the sales journey.

Want to learn more about other new customer touchpoints? Visit the Five9 Retail Page.

About the Author

Jeff Woodland is Director of Vertical Marketing at Five9. He is a senior B2B technology marketer and thought leader with expertise in Contact Center, Retail, AI, and Unified Communications.