Online retailers that are prioritizing customer experience are on pace to win more customers, sell more products, and outperform their competitors.
The fashion industry has always been a place for creative thinking, cutting-edge marketing strategies, and savvy business ideas. However, as more shoppers flood online to get the latest items and jump on the hottest clothing trends, businesses have been forced to make costly compromises or sacrifice quality just to keep up.
With the surge in growth and demand for top-quality products comes lots of gaps, as well. According to a Forrester survey of CX leaders, 81% of brands say customers expect and demand faster resolutions than just 2 years ago. However, only 30% of brands say their customer service strategies are very effective at responding to customers in a timely way.
Therein lies the opportunity for brands looking to excel above and beyond marketing the next big item: focus on creating customer experiences that meet customer demands, because most other brands are scrambling to keep up.
When it comes to selling apparel, missed customer service opportunities are also missed marketing opportunities.
We’ve identified three areas where gaps exist in customer service and marketing in fashion. According to research data from Simplr and Forrester studies, these are the opportunities most open for retailers:
- Hyper-speed in email response
- Finding the perfect spot/scenario for your chatbot
- Thinking about CX as a revenue-generator, not a cost center
Opportunity #1: Answer customer service emails fast. Really fast.
While this one feels like online customer service 101, the reality is that many online retailers aren’t answering customer support emails nearly fast enough. In a recent study of almost 1,500 eCommerce companies:
- 33% took longer than 24 hours to respond (if they responded at all)
- Only 4.5% of eCommerce companies answered emails in under 15 minutes AND showed empathy toward the problem
What this tells us: Nearly a third of companies are putting their brand reputation and bottom line at risk by not responding quickly enough. According to Zendesk, customers who have to wait more than 24 hours for a response are 50% more likely to abandon the correspondence. That means that a late response is not just going to annoy your customer, it could potentially push them out the door completely (taking their lifetime value and word-of-mouth recommendations with them).
There is plenty of room for apparel brands to make a big splash when it comes to customer service response times (think: under 15 minutes, with personalization). The same goes for social media DMs. Most likely, customers won’t expect the speedy response because they’re not getting the same caliber of service at your competitor’s website.
Opportunity #2: Find the chatbot sweet spot
Chatbot automation is a necessity when it comes to scaling customer service in eCommerce. Whether it’s chatbots helping with returns or interactive size guides to help find the perfect fit — automation touchpoints can enhance the customer’s shopping experience.
It can also ruin the shopping experience.
A faulty or misplaced chatbot is likely to increase effort and frustration from the end-user, which can have disastrous consequences. The customer can abandon their cart and hop over to another apparel store or, worse, sound off on your brand on social media.
Retailers have struggled for a long time with how to strike the balance between necessary automation and the risks to customer service quality. Luckily, there’s opportunity here.
The brands that are able to successfully implement chatbots while maintaining stellar CSATs do the following:
- Use the majority of automation for post-sale inquiries. Chatbots are perfect for returns and order status updates. They deliver quick answers to quick questions. It’s recommended that bots be strategically placed on return sites and a customer’s account page.
- Pre-sale is best for human agents (with chatbot support). Think of the floor of a traditional brick and mortar retail store: the salespeople help engage customers in the moment, suggest additional items, and make them feel truly supported and confident in their shopping experience. Having a human agent in an online pre-sale is the best way to mimic that unique experience. Plus, research shows that live chat with real human agents means more sales and fewer abandoned carts
While a majority of companies with chat use a mix of chatbots and human agents, more than one-third are relying on bots only to power their chat experiences. This results in lower CSAT and lower likelihood of repurchase. To take advantage of this opportunity, make sure that humans are the front line for your brand, while chatbots take a behind-the-scenes role.
Princess Polly is a perfect real-life example of how top clothing brands can capitalize on 24/7 human-staffed live chat to increase conversations, add much-needed efficiencies, and reduce costs.
Opportunity #3: View customer service as a revenue generator
For decades, customer service has been considered a cost center. It’s typically the first place to make cuts or opt for the lowest price. However, brands that ascribe to a non-traditional CX model (like NOW CX) are positioning their CX strategy around revenue, not cost savings.
This makes sense. When fashion brands put the customer first in all aspects of the business, experiences improve. As a result, they’re converting more visitors into customers, and more customers into superfans. The end result is more money and reduced risk of customer attrition.
Legacy contact centers and Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs) move very slowly and are, in many ways, trapped in the old model. This means that there’s an opportunity for high-performing brands to untether themselves from the old model and start generating revenue from amazing customer experiences.
How to take advantage of the opportunities in customer service for fashion
The fashion world moves very fast. While this is generally a good thing, it also means that there are resulting gaps from massive growth. This is really a good thing (for your business). If you operate around the demands of the NOW Customer, you’ll see more opportunities to shine online where others have ignored.
Simplr’s Human Cloud Network makes it easy for fast-growing apparel brands like Mack Weldon, Steve Madden, and ANINE BING to deliver rapid resolutions at scale, 24/7, across every digital channel and to bring the in-store experience online with around-the-clock live chat staffing. Talk to Simplr to learn how they can transform your customer experience, instantly increase conversions, and drive lifelong customer loyalty today.