As more areas of the country move into Phase 1 of re-opening the economy, you may be able to offer remote shopping and curbside (no contact) pickup. While you may already have a way to hold items for pickup by customers, moving completely to the “take out” model of business requires you to make changes and scale your processes. Here are 5 ideas to improve your customer experience:
1. Accept Online and Advance Payments
Customers paying online or by phone before coming for their pickup dramatically reduces the in-person interaction needed to complete the sale. This is safe for your employees and your customers.
- Adding a shopping cart experience to your website is not a simple process; check with your web developer and verify they have the experience to create a secure, easy to use flow for your customers.
- If adding a shopping cart experience to your website is not feasible in the short term, you have alternatives:
- Check with your current card processing service; many offer payment portals that can work well in this situation.
- Spin up a separate online store using a turnkey solution, like Shopify, to which you can upload inventory and product information
- Create an online payment account via services like PayPal or Venmo (make sure you have or create a company-specific account)
- Remember that you must still comply with PCI regulations. Make sure employees know that when taking credit card information, they should not write down or otherwise record the information expect to put it into the POS or card processing systems.
2. Offer Video Shopping Appointments
Allow customers to schedule video shopping appointments, during with a member of your staff can walk the store and help your customers pick out items.
- Use a secure video meeting tool. If you use Microsoft Office 365 or G Suite, you already have access to video meetings via Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, respectively. Employees should NOT be using personal accounts, email addresses, or phone numbers to setup or run these sessions.
- Roll out a scheduling tool that lets customers pick from preset, available times. Bookings is a free tool included with MS Office 365. Tools like Calendly integrate with both G Suite and Office 365 services.
- Get a few tripods with phone/tablet holders. This will allow a single employee to manage the camera while displaying merchandise. It also makes for a “steady” shot and better shopping experience.
3. Live Chat with Customers
Give your customers an easy way to get in touch with you once they are on your website.
- Live chat is an inexpensive way for customers to communicate with your team.
- Most live chat solutions allow your staff to answer questions and transfer the conversation. Staff working from home can cover the live chat service and answer most customer questions. The chat can be transferred to in-store staff as needed.
4. Create a “Service Desk” for Customer Questions
Going beyond live chat, let your customers interact with you however they want, when they want. At the same time, you can enable staff working from home to support the team working in-store.
- Setup a cloud-based service desk phone system that allows multiple team members to answer calls, text messages, and voice messages.
- Employees sign in as ‘agents’ and can indicate when they are available / not available to answer calls.
- The system will route calls to an available ‘agent’ in a round robin basis or other priority that you configure.
- Using a “soft phone” application, your employees access the system via computer or mobile device; their personal phone numbers and information remain private.
- Setup a shared inbox to allow your staff to respond to, and manage, email communications.
- More than a distribution list, a managed shared inbox lets your team assign emails and discussion threads to employees and track their work and progress.
- Using the shared inbox, employees’ personal information and individual work emails remain private.
- Employees can connect/disconnect to the service as needed to cover shifts
5. Measure Customer Satisfaction
Follow up every sale with a thank you email and solicit customer feedback.
- Cloud-based customer satisfaction (CSAT) tools let you embed one-click feedback questions into your email templates. These often use familiar green, yellow, and red icons to indicate satisfaction levels.
- CSAT tools can also solicit comments. These comments can be used to identify and resolve customer issues, as well as generate testimonials for your web site and marketing efforts.
- More advanced CSAT tools can also ask a “Net Promoter Score” question, so you can measure how many of your customers would recommend your business to others.
A Final Note: As you implement these (or other) ideas, procedures, and technologies, remember to take care of your “back office” and employees. Initiating or improving your customer pickup services means new and changed processes. You may also decide to change roles. For example, some stores dedicate one team member per shift to process online payments as a way of managing access to the tools and information. Take the time to train your staff and make sure they are comfortable with the changes. Also, solicit their feedback and ideas. They probably have suggestions that will help you impress your customers.