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2020-08-18 11:45:44

Strategies for Prioritizing the Customer Experience During COVID-19

2020-08-18 11:45:44

The pandemic has certainly changed the way consumers shop, with many retailers experiencing an influx in online sales as the demand for ecommerce skyrockets. These online order volumes aren’t slowing down, even as retailers reopen their doors and restrictions loosen, as many consumers still have health concerns about in-store shopping. As consumers continue to shop online, customer care needs have significantly increased.

At Radial, we’re seeing an overwhelming amount of contact volume generated by fulfillment times, with a 16% increase in customer care engagements in April and May compared to pre-COVID levels in January and February.

At first, most customer inquiries focused on stores opening and closing, and how consumers could facilitate transactions like returns and exchanges that were in progress if stores suddenly closed. Consumers' concerns have pivoted as we continue to move into a world post-COVID-19, with many customers expecting quick shipping similar to that of pre-pandemic timelines.

A Successful Post-Pandemic Retail Strategy

Retail success post-pandemic relies on a strong customer care strategy that not only maintains but increases customer loyalty - and in turn, market share. 

There are several actions health and beauty retailers can take today to improve their customer experience as we continue to navigate the “next normal.”

With supply chains impacted by the pandemic, it’s essential that retailers remain clear and transparent about changing fulfillment and return timelines. Retailers should place fulfillment delay messages throughout the customer buying process and provide multiple opportunities for the customer to access updated information.

If customers are not satisfied with longer delivery times, retailers should make sure their customer care agents are aware of timely fulfillment activations this summer like pop-up stores that sell makeup or dark stores that offer beauty products only as pick-up. This allows for immediate product in-hand gratification for the customer.

Retailers should also make sure their customer care agents have access to past customer interactions in order to create tailored solutions specific to the individual customer.

Recent research on consumer behavior in online shopping from CFI and Radial found that 66% of consumers value a customer care agent’s ability to refer to past customer interactions, including their purchase histories and other prior contacts.

Retailers should utilize outlets outside traditional customer service tools including SMS, chat bots and social media as these channels provide more opportunities for shoppers to connect with the brand. A positive buying experience leads to increased customer loyalty and overall retail success, even during challenging times. 


Carey Stoker is senior vice president, Customer Care Services at Radial. He leads the delivery of Radial’s contact center and other customer service offerings.