Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why proactive customer comms is more than just email

By David Grimes, CEO, Sorted

The importance of proactive customer communication isn’t new. However, what brands often fail to remember is to connect with customers on multiple touchpoints, and through multiple channels. An email confirming an order (or a third-party notification from the carrier giving an update on shipping progress) is now considered a basic expectation in the customer journey.

Surprisingly, 87% of retailers don’t offer an advanced post-purchase experience. Despite the rest taking a more proactive approach to communications, this is still a relatively small number compared to the large volume of customers using a variety of different digital channels.

So, how can brands own the delivery experience and communicate with customers, completely independent of carriers?

The rise of multi-channel surfacing

Today, great customer experience relies on the ability to communicate with customers through the channel of their choosing, not the preference of the brand. While an email may cut it for some, it’s likely that some customers will prefer an SMS text, an app update, or live chat. Offering choice, in this case, can make all the difference to CX. However, 51% of retailers that we shopped with as part of a recent study only send updates through a single channel, rather than offering multiple touchpoints for convenience and transparency. Not only that, but less than 40% of brands are using an app to communicate delivery updates – a critical touchpoint in driving brand engagement.

What retailers are failing to do is create immersive online experiences for customers. Turning this around doesn’t have to be ground-breaking or new. Rather, this can be fixed with the power of multi-channel servicing.

You don’t have to be everywhere, you just have to be where your customers expect you to be.

By using branded multi-channel communications across social media platforms, SMS services, as well as through retailer-owned websites and apps, retailers can offer an enhanced cross-platform digital experience for that final, and critical, post-purchase touchpoint. Customers now expect connected, timely updates with first contact resolution if and when issues arise. So, by offering multiple channels for customers to communicate directly with a brand, expectations on complete transparency can be met.

The magic of automated tracking

Tracking is expected by customers, rather than a ‘nice to have’. And research has shown that an overwhelming number of customers expect that tracking to come directly from the retailer. Much like running water and fast WiFi, tracking is now basic hygiene. But are retailers aware of this? In our recent study, we found that only 36% of retailers offered branded tracking and 18% had no tracking pages at all. If we compare this to the amount of customers who bank on it, the stars are not really aligning. Meanwhile, ecommerce continues to rise like never before – so brands will need to innovate to give customers the post-purchase experience they expect.

With an increase in order volumes, paired with higher customer expectations, automated and reliable tracking therefore becomes a necessity. This is especially true if you want to get proactive with communication and stay one step ahead of the issue, rather than waiting for the customer to contact you. With regular automated updates, the customer can know about any exceptions or changes to their delivery without customer services input. For example, musicMagpie was able to dramatically reduce WISMO (where is my order) queries by 63% with automated branded tracking, all while protecting brand loyalty and consumer confidence.

Self-service comms

Our survey also revealed that over half of delivery journeys had communications from both the brand and the carrier – this is a huge amount of duplication and over-communication. While under-utilisation of owned space is a missed opportunity, over-communication is a risk in itself as no customer wants to be bombarded. Sometimes, all it takes is to offer a self-serve option with the necessary insights to keep customers informed, so not having this option can immediately put a brand in bad light.

At the click of a button, on site branded tracking as self-serve for customers allows shoppers to enjoy greater autonomy over their post-purchase journey and empowers them with the answers they need straightaway. This can immediately cut WISMOs, reducing the pressure on contact centres too. Yet self-serve goes far beyond simply reducing customer contacts – it allows retailers to connect with customers and increase brand engagement at every touchpoint of the delivery journey.

A combined effort

At the end of the day, efforts to improve post-purchase CX cannot simply focus on multi-channel comms alone, or automated and self-serve tracking either. To provide that 5* post-purchase experience your customers are looking for, retailers need to invest and implement a combination of these tools to ensure customers are met where they want to be heard.

Today, a simple email (that may even end up in someone’s spam box) is just no longer enough to impress in this increasingly digital world. Proactive communications instead rely on a connected experience – connect with your customers on multiple touchpoints, and multiple channels, and the future will be plain sailing.