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(This blog is the first in a series of guest posts by Jacqueline Mundkur, a CX practitioner with deep experience across retail, telecom, logistics and CPG verticals. She is Founder & CEO The Nxt Levels CX consultancy. Here you can read the first post on how Insurers Use Co-browsing for both CX and Security Goals while Increasing Conversions.)

 

In the aftermath of disruption caused by the pandemic, multiple coping mechanisms by both organisations and customers have starting kicking in. Not only are strategies being reset due to the changing contours of the marketplace, but also customer purchase behaviours are breaching traditional boundaries.

Erstwhile, pure play offline or multi-channel players have started appreciating the advantages of digital driven virtual experiences that seamlessly envelope physical spaces. This has caught the attention of retail enterprises which explains the rush to capitalise on the customers’ burgeoning interest and adoption of technology.

With early adopters of digital technologies reporting significant CX and organisational benefits, this has further cemented their place in the phygital world.

 

Potential customers

The impact of the pandemic on the fashion retail industry has been particularly harsh. This has forced both Retailers and Brands to kickstart efforts to harness technology to achieve multiple objectives focussed on reducing the cost and time to service, optimising sales conversions, captivating customer interest and improving CX.

Recent insights indicate that for marketers, a significant hard-to-ignore segment has emerged straddling older demographics who have been forced to adopt digital but yearn for a physical presence on one hand and, those who prefer to seamlessly segue between both the physical and virtual worlds on the other. In recent months, these cohorts have contributed to both interest and adoption of an array of solutions including co-browsing and video chat.

Underlying the upward trajectory of these trends is the fact that these solutions are firmly anchored in the customer’s need, strongly identify with their intent and therefore espouse a strong CX motive.

 

Benefits for customers

Co-browsing or collaborative browsing is an opportunity which fits well into the increasingly phygital ecosystem that surrounds us. Having worked with retail clients who have considered and adopted co-browsing along with video chat, experience points to build up of authentic and effective connections with customers while the enterprise gains from the efficiencies and operational power which AI offers.

Co-browsing solutions like Surfly offer a real-time human-to-human experience to customers on an enterprise’s website or app. It is as if a dedicated customer service executive (CSE) is in the room with the customer even though in reality they may be situated at a remote store or even a contact centre. The customer thus gets the same ‘assisted’ store experience as if they are together navigating either the various aisles or engaging in a deeper conversation or just seeking clarifications.

Surfly co-browsing is a browser-based technology which doesn’t need any configuration or installation of software. It is agnostic to devices and browsers and, works with existing tools or digital channels. By obtaining a customer’s permission, controls can be also effortlessly switched between the customer and the CSE.

 

 

This on-demand help provides unimaginable benefits. Imagine scenarios where a lady is frustrated when attempting to buy jewellery for her daughter’s marriage online or those who are at sea, overwhelmed as it were with the myriad of options displayed on ecommerce sites or, those who love a product but struggle to complete the sales journey with the right payment option. Now imagine if this customer can be assisted virtually, real time by a CSE who can explain and guide them through every step of the journey.

Also, for those customers who call in for clarity regarding a promotional campaign or, need advice to make a purchase for an upcoming occasion or even, redeem digital coupons etc, they can be invited to co-browse and video chat thus uplifting the service delivered to another level.

The solution also fulfils the customer’s need for validation or sharing especially in large ticket purchases when they need a second opinion. The service executive can also email shortlisted products or even invite a 3rd person (say spouse, friend or even expert) on the same call based on a customer’s request.

 

 

Business benefits

For enterprises, in addition to allowing integration with CRM or the contact centre platform, co-browsing helps to close the loop and instil customer confidence. The trust and value a brand or retailer brings to a customer just by being present at the moment of truth delivers a priceless experience. Think reduction in abandoned baskets, think reduction in calls or lengthy chat conversations. These problems simply vanish as the customer can reach out to a co-browsing service directly through the website or a chat or even a voice call, all from the confines of their home.

Thus, conversational commerce facilitates the completion of the logical customer journey. The CSE can also highlight portions of the same webpage so as to reduce any ambiguity while prospect or profile information can be stored and updated. The tool also helps share documents and images. Each of these functionalities serve to impress on the customer the care and empathy for their needs.

 

Internal contradictions

Co-browsing use cases in retail span diverse categories like automotive, eye wear, jewellery, apparel etc. However, even after marketing managers are convinced of the CX and ROI impact, the worry they face is that the actual integration and ‘getting started’ may entail a long frustrating wait. Essentially, enterprises expect CX or marketing practitioners to first build a strong business case, get it approved and then wait for the CIO or CTO to signal that they are ready to take up the project.

The great news here is that integrating with the Surfly platform doesn’t need too much of an intense IT skill or effort. Also, it also doesn’t need a CAPEX outlay as it is on a subscription based model. Once you have defined and refined what objectives you want to target and the number of service executives to be deployed, the ROI can be calculated on a per seat or per licence basis. This low entry barrier from the cost angle is complemented by just a quick training session thus addressing flexibility and scalability needs.

To sum, one of the few advantages of the pandemic is that it has reset attitudes of end customers and made them amenable to accepting a more virtual world. The time is right, the time is now. Enterprises should support, facilitate, and partner with their customers to successfully navigate their physical to digital transition to reap long term gains.

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