Business process automation as an enabler to enhance customer service in retail
Updated: May 7, 2020
By Siddharth Wadehra, QuickReach Head of Research
The advent of e-commerce and online shopping has brought a lot of focus on the relevance of the brick-and-mortar stores as we know them. With capital-intensive operations and wafer-thin margins, the brick-and-mortar retail stores are looking for ways in which they might be able to aptly compete with their online counterparts. As the younger generation gravitates to shop online and with the advent of technology and the increasing level of personalization which e-commerce companies provide, retail stores are grappling with ways in which they could keep themselves differentiated and uniquely positioned to offer something which the popular e-commerce store might fail to provide. One of them would be a seamless customer experience and the human touch which the traditional form of retail shopping could look to offer.
However, while providing a seamless customer service is highly desirable, the on-ground reality is very different. A number of retailers are grappling with a cumbersome approval process which has quite the opposite effect on the customer service. Any floor associate at the retail store might not have the authority to act on any request the customer might have. For any of the concerns, solving issues, or taking feedback, the customer would either need to struggle to get to the store manager or wait for a good fifteen minutes over the customer service hotline to get across to someone who could potentially look into the issue which the customer has. Such complicated operations machinery and a structured approval process often results in dismal customer experience wherein the customer wishes that he had just stayed at home browsing through the mobile application of his favorite e-commerce store to get the goods he wanted.
A Salesforce report  suggests that consumers of all ages still say going to physical stores to make purchases is their first choice, including 62% of Baby Boomers and 58% of GenZers. This provides a huge opportunity for brick-and-mortar retail stores to fast-track their automation initiative to offer the level of customer service desired by anyone walking into the store. The article elucidates on some of the bottlenecks in providing the seamless customer service and explores how process automation might help with the bottleneck.
1. Empowering frontline staff
Many of us would love to walk into a retail store wanting the front-line associates to do more than just pointing out directions to the shelves where products are placed. A great customer experience would stem from the fact that support associates could have the power to go beyond and assist the customer in providing him with the experience he craves for. By creating simple workflows that would allow a quicker approval process, the frontline support staff could provide much more than just handing basic queries and going above and beyond what might be expected of him.
2. Handling irate customers
All of us, at some point, have encountered calling up the customer service hotline and being in queue, waiting patiently for a customer service agent to attend to our queries. Imagine an irate customer who is talking to a customer service agent who perhaps does not have the authority to help him with the request. Needless to suggest, the longer the delay in serving the irate customer, the more likelihood of losing the customer forever.
Now imagine having an automated workflow in place where the customer service agent, in a matter of clicks, is able to provide an amicable resolution to the customer. From potentially losing the customer forever to a competitor, the experience now might be a loyalty-building one.
3. Approving returns and refunds
By streamlining process flows, refund approvals would take substantially lesser processing time and help enhance the customer experience. An automated approval flow would restore faith that you have the customers best interests in mind.
4. Managing inventory
Imagine walking into a retail store which does not have the size of the T-shirt you have shortlisted for a birthday party. You request the front-line staff to check up whether the size is available at another outlet. A traditional retail setting would involve making a number of calls to the outlets nearby, connecting with warehouses or checking up with retail managers. An automated system, however, ensures that the front-line associate knows within a few clicks whether the item could be provided to the customer or advises the customer when the same might be available at the store for purchase.
Additionally, there could be certain supply issues which the front-line staff or the manager could pick up intuitively before any technology or prediction algorithm could act on. Imagine a fast-selling item and having stocks replenished by the end of the week rather than waiting for the fulfillment timeslot.
These are just some of the situations where process automation might help with the bottlenecks in providing a seamless customer experience. Not just in the customer experience which retailers can provide, automation is all set to impact the retail industry by completely fundamentally altering business models and value chains. Automation would eventually create organizations with fewer layers, and a better-trained workforce empowered by real time data and analytics. Understandably, the winners in this sector would be those who understand these implications and act quickly to address them.
QuickReach- An Easier Way to Automate your Retail Processes
QuickReach can help you automate your retail processes in a matter of minutes. With an intuitive design, pre-built templates, and a drag-and-drop form builder, retail teams can use it with no technical or coding expertise. QuickReach integrates easily with existing applications in use by the retail team to provide valuable data on processes.
Real-time analytics empowers teams with greater visibility and insight. Cloud-based data storage and role-based access control keeps your data secure. QuickReach facilitates automated communication and easy collaboration to help retail processes function efficiently.
Sign up here for a demo with one of our customer success team members to ensure that you are ahead in the process automation game to take your retail business to the next level.