Retail Customer Engagement: How Investments in Innovation Create the Foundation for Sustainable Growth

Ongoing effects from inflation and economic uncertainty have dampened industry experts’ outlook for 2023 as shoppers remain “cost-conscious.” In an environment where consumers are more cautious about how and where they spend their money, retailers are looking for strategies and innovations to help weather the storm and create a foundation for sustainable growth into the future.

Refocusing on customer experience (CX) may help, as delivering exceptional service and engagements bolster customer loyalty, a key driver of growth and profitability. Here, we’ll explore three ways investments in CX innovation can deliver real outcomes for retailers.

AI-Powered Self-Service Solutions Enhance Customer Satisfaction

More than 142 million U.S. consumers already interact with artificial intelligence-powered self-service solutions from their smartphones and home devices to easily set reminders, check the weather, get directions, and so much more. People value the immediacy of these experiences, so when retailers invest in self-service automation solutions, they create standout shopping experiences that customers are used to and appreciate.

A virtual assistant, as one example, provides personalized self-service so customers can quickly check on product availability, delivery status, locations and hours, or return/refund status. AI-powered messaging solutions can send relevant, proactive notifications and reminders, engaging customers in two-way conversations across email, voice and text channels.

Improve the Agent Experience to Improve the CX

AI-powered solutions for the retail contact center don’t just support a great self-service shopping experience; they also make it easier for live agents to optimize every customer interaction, too, be it voice, digital or in-store.

Contact-center agents are effectively brand ambassadors; they need thorough knowledge of your products and services, to be ready to accurately answer any question, and to exemplify your brand in every customer engagement. Retailers that invest in the agent experience often see commensurate improvements in customer satisfaction.

Contact center AI supports agents with relevant, real‑time information to quickly resolve inquiries as well as offer personalized product and service recommendations to increase conversion rates and average order values. In short, agents are better prepared to confidently handle every customer conversation.

Additionally, we all know that agents spend too much time trying to validate customer identities; biometric authentication uses AI to eliminate the frustratingly long process of passwords, PINs and security challenge questions that irk customers and agents alike.

Shifting Customers to Digital Channels Enhances Customer Satisfaction

Shifting shoppers from voice to digital channels can give customers a better, faster overall experience while alleviating pressure on and support costs within your contact center. The challenge has been in how to transfer callers in the IVR to a digital experience using live chat or a virtual assistant — without losing the customer or the context of their conversation.

AI-based self-service and call deflection technologies can do just that — seamlessly move targeted callers to digital channels for immediate answers to straightforward inquiries, without waiting on hold for a live agent. These solutions allow customers to pick up right where they left off so they don’t have to start over or repeat any information.

Deflecting more calls to self-service digital channels enables agents to focus on higher-value customers and interactions and helps increase self-service adoption going forward, creating a virtuous loop of customer satisfaction and support cost containment.

Achieving Sustainable Growth is Possible With Retail AI

Preparing for the future of retail customer engagement means prioritizing high-impact CX initiatives and technology investments that create a foundation for sustainable, long-term growth. AI-powered solutions are shaping the future of retail shopping with secure, personalized, innovative experiences that drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Seb Reeve is the director of intelligent engagement business development at Nuance Communications, an American multinational computer software technology corporation.