Hybrid Retailer Hero

If they want to stay in the game, retailers today have to seek out new technologies, methods, and systems to bolster their customer experience. A hybrid workforce can potentially help retail businesses achieve this. Made up with a blend of virtual and in-person work, a hybrid workforce model combines technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and traditional physical manpower to get work done remotely or on site. Fully engaged customers account for a 23% higher share in profitability, revenue, and relationship growth. Additionally, companies that successfully engage their customers see 63% lower attrition, 55% higher share of wallet and 50% higher productivity.

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From having a strong customer engagement strategy to developing a full-fledged omnichannel approach, here's how retailers can offer a multidimensional customer experience by tapping into the hybrid workforce model.

1) Use AI to Engage Customers

Brands can engage customers via their website, physically at their retail locations, through their shopping apps, using social media, and even through email and SMS. In essence, every point of contact between your brand and your target audience is a space to improve customer experience. This is why it is important to have an overarching customer engagement strategy to synchronize your efforts over different channels and offer a more personalized customer experience.

As a retailer, making use of AI helps you engage your customers faster and potentially improve your organization's responsiveness. For example, nowadays many business websites implement AI-driven chatbots that engage and guide customers through their buying journey. This can be especially helpful for brands that deal with a high volume of customer requests, questions, or complaints. A report by Gartner forecasts that by 2022, two-thirds of all customer experience projects will make use of AI.

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2) Provide a Hyper-Personalized CX

Today, consumers expect hyper-personalized offers, timely recommendations, and relevant content. Retail businesses are expected to integrate technology and provide a rich customer experience that adapts in real-time, throughout their entire customer journey. As you can expect, customer expectations have changed since the coronavirus outbreak has significantly disrupted the way we consume products and services.

Truth is, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way customers interact with businesses, and these new buying habits may well be here to stay. A study by McKinsey reports that 23 percent of US consumers are ordering their groceries online, out of which 49 percent reveal they intend to continue doing so even in the post-pandemic era. Remote retail teams have everything to win if they design their customer experience to adapt to each and every visitor. This also involves adapting the experience to the users' proficiency level and catering for customers with special needs and disabilities.

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While the whole picture may look challenging for remote retail teams, in reality, providing a hyper-personalized customer experience is simply about gathering data and delivering the most adequate user experience according to this data.

A few easy ways to collect data are through customer feedback and complaints. Listen to their likes or concerns, and tweak your customer experience accordingly. Additionally, you can use data collection tools, such as Google Analytics and heat mapping, to track down your users behavior and make informed decisions to refine and personalize your customer experience. Over time, remote retail teams can use this data to cross-reference demographic data and to find patterns, which will eventually be used to develop personalized experiences.

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3) Offer Multiple Shopping Channels

It's a no-brainer: customers should have the option to shop through multiple channels, be it online, in-person, or through an app. This allows consumers to access and buy your products when they feel ready and where they feel more comfortable. IDC Retail Insights found that this added layer of flexibility can increase customer lifetime value by as much as 30 percent when compared to customers buying through only one channel.

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Yes, it seems quite challenging to manage multiple channels while syncing consumer's preferences in real-time. The truth is that you would very likely need to set up a whole team to do this manually. Additionally, manually handling all the shopping channels would cost you hours in lost productivity, along with the increased chance of human error at each data input, which could directly affect the end-user experience.

A hybrid workforce makes the whole process easier: machine learning handles the data from each customer and syncs it in real-time across all your sales channels, while your human staff handles the decision-making, based on accurate data compiled by your AI assistant. Another benefit is that the data collected from consumer interactions via all your channels enables your sales team to devise tailor-made remarketing ads―ads that will encourage your customer to take the final step and buy your products. Whenever possible, you should look to cross-promote between different channels and focus on creating a holistic customer experience.

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Putting It All Together

A successful retail strategy begins with an optimized customer experience. We have reached a point where the available technology enables us to personalize almost every aspect of the customer journey. The future of retail is very likely made up of a hybrid workforce, where humans and AI assistants can help tune your business processes, while delivering a strong experience for a modern consumer. Engage with your customers, learn their buying habits, and provide flexibility to purchase through multiple channels.

Bojan Headshot

Bojan Bajic

Head of Marketing at Infinum

Bojan is the Head of Marketing at Infinum, an award-winning agency that helps companies transform their business with digital products. He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology and has had his head wrapped around digital ever since. With experience in automotive, scientific publishing, FMCG and IT industries, he enjoys discovering new ways to reinvent products and services with technology.

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