Tech can help retailers deliver vastly superior customer service

You know better than anyone that customer service in today’s online, social media-driven landscape is a completely different animal than it was years ago. Especially when a negative review on Yelp is never more than an irate customer and a click away, today’s retailers can’t afford any hiccups in the delivery of knock-your-socks-off customer service. While customer service still has to retain the personal touch, there are ways that technology can complement its delivery so patrons remain loyal word-of-mouth evangelists for your business. Here’s how to leverage technology to be a valuable customer service ally:

1. Understand customer tastes and preferences
Today’s data analytics software, built on a platform of artificial intelligence, can detect patterns in buyer behavior much more accurately and in places most retailers can’t. Such intelligence is a valuable asset that retailers (and manufacturers) can leverage to meet consumer demand and tailor recommendations for each and every customer. Whether Anna Smith likes a contemporary look or Rob Shine likes a more distressed appearance, understanding your customers helps put you at a valuable advantage. Future-forward technologies such as artificial intelligence can study trends over time and even detect anomalies so retailers and manufacturers can get a more accurate read on their customers and recommend products accordingly.

2. Get ahead on order tracking
In an age of instant gratification, not knowing when an order is expected to arrive is an endless source of frustration for many customers. But technology today can offer greater transparency into the supply chain, and you can give customers peace of mind by accurately tracking when products leave the warehouse and exactly where they are along the route to delivery. Last-mile challenges in delivery continue to stymie industry professionals, so clear insights into orders can decrease frustrations and make for more satisfied customers.

3. The ability to create custom furniture
Manufacturing technology, especially with the rise of additive (3D printing) manufacturing, is changing rapidly to accommodate small-lot production. While custom furniture has always been a thing, such technology allows retailers and shoppers to also enjoy competitive prices. If your clients might want something custom, ask. Large vendors have flexibility in accommodating such tailored requests, which is a big win in today’s hyper-personalized landscape.

4. Help envision interior design
Interior design technology can show customers how their homes or the poolside will look with different configurations of furniture. Retailers can also use such tech to group furniture together in different configurations to encourage sale of slow-moving items in the store.

5. Check on the provenance or other details of store pieces
If your customer is paying for sustainably sourced teak or other prized pieces, offering them proof of provenance is another sure way to win at the customer service game. RFID tags on apparel can already be scanned to yield information about origin and subsequent journey down the supply chain. Advanced blockchain technology can take this one step further and lock down information for products that use especially sensitive materials. If sustainability metrics are high priority, blockchain can help retailers say with confidence that the products they sell are manufactured responsibly.

The biggest advantage of the technologies available to today’s retailers and manufacturers is that they don’t replace customer service—they complement it. Making customers’ lives a little more frustration-free and anticipating their needs even before they do is a sure way to loyalty. And that is the currency every retailer can take all the way to the bank.

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