Gnatta’s recent UK Consumer Survey was designed to identify how consumers felt about the performance of retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And in light of this year’s Olympics, it struck us that just as sportspeople compete to perform better than the competition, so of course do retailers. The Gnatta Consumer Survey can help retailers see what consumer’s really think of the Covid responses!
Coming home with the medals – what retail contact centres can learn from elite sports
Q: What do sportspeople and retail contact centres have in common?
A: Both have had to adapt to major changes due to the pandemic. And to remain competitive, both must continuously strive to improve their performance.
Sometimes, circumstances dictate that the best laid plans must change. Who could have predicted when choosing the branding for the ‘Tokyo 2020’ Summer Olympics and Summer Paralympics that they would have to be postponed at short notice and actually take place in 2021?
But throughout the COVID-19 disruption, elite sportspeople had to remain focused, keep training, and continue to make incremental improvements. Their ultimate goal was still to beat their personal bests, to make sure that when their event was finally able to take place, they might be on the podium clutching a medal.
This year, as we celebrate the dedication and achievements of athletes from around the globe, we should also reflect on the response of businesses to the pandemic. The context may be different but striving to make continuous performance improvements should also be the goal for retail and its contact centres.
What the results told us:
Everyone – retailers and consumers – had to adapt quickly to the unforeseen and trying circumstances of the health crisis. But unsurprisingly some companies performed better than others:
While the status quo was maintained in over half of those surveyed, almost a third of consumers reported having a worse retail experience since COVID (Fig. 1). Because of the global nature of the pandemic, customers were, at least initially, understanding when service levels were not maintained. But how long can this goodwill last? Particularly when around 1 in 8 people said their experience had been better than pre-COVID.
What does it mean for the gold medal winners of the retail environment?
When a record is broken in the sporting world, it shows that a previously unattainable level of performance has been reached. From our research, around 1 in 8 people now know that it’s possible to have a better standard of retail experience than they did pre-COVID. Customer expectations have been raised even higher, which may not bode well for poorer performing retailers.
And what about the difference between those who have performed better than before, and those whose performance lapsed? Just like a team sports player who has had a bad season, the retailers responsible for the experience of the 31% of customers who felt they had fared worse than before the pandemic are in danger of not being selected next time.
What makes the difference between OK and great?
So, what makes the difference between an excellent performance, an average one, and one that isn’t making as good an impression?
Just as in athletics track events, one difference is speed. But in this case, it’s speed of response. Our survey revealed that 1 in 12 (8%) consumers say they have received faster responses from customer service since the pandemic started (Fig. 2). Unfortunately, for over a third of consumers, responses are slower.
Among those who said they’d had a better retail experience since COVID, over 1 in 4 (28%) felt that customer service responses were faster. Conversely, over half (57%) of those reporting a worse retail experience since COVID, said customer service responses were slower. Speed of response is clearly deserving of attention.
How a brand makes its consumers feel is important for loyalty and repeat business. Even with the disruption from the pandemic, some brands managed to make around 1 in 12 (8%) of respondents feel more valued (Fig. 3). For those reporting faster customer service responses, the proportion who felt more valued rose to 37%. And while those feeling less valued amounted to 18% of respondents overall, amongst those who felt customer service responses were slower, this was much higher, at 38%. Speed of response could get you ahead of the competition.
Time is valuable for customers too
One key area for improvement is rooted in having respect for other people’s time. Just 1 in 4 people said they didn’t have to repeat their problem to various people when they contacted retail customer service (Fig. 4), and only just over 1 in 5 were confident that the support always had the relevant information to be able to help (Fig. 5). On the other end of the spectrum, 44% knew they had to repeat themselves, and almost half felt customer services didn’t always have the right information to hand.
While contact centres and customers both want problems to be resolved, to the customer, solving the issue is not about their job, it’s personal. Like an elite runner, they want to get to the finish line. Fast.
How to get onto the podium
To make sure you’re one of the companies leading the field in customer service, a customer engagement strategy is key.
Using an integrated customer engagement system from Gnatta is an excellent way to make sure your systems are up to the job.
For example, for one of our retail clients, creating a Single Customer View, integrating with first- and third-party systems, and making sure agents had access to the right information produced these improvements:
17% lower Average Handle Time
21% increase in First Contact Resolution
19% reduction in Contact Volume
When even small differences can create large improvements in customer experience, just imagine how results like these could propel your business up the customer satisfaction league table.
Many of us are armchair athletes – we admire elite sporting performance from afar. But if we want our businesses to succeed, sitting back is not an option. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that while some organisations struggled, others managed to move forwards, even in the face of this extreme adversity.
To find out more how you can lead the field, using integrated customer engagement to drive outstanding customer service, contact Gnatta today.