Retail : The role of customer service in a phygital era

The year 2020 was marked by a strange context and an explosion in online sales representing 13.4% of retail to date and resulting in 112 billion euros spent (annual report issued by the Federation of e-commerce – Fevad).

The retail industry needed to reorganize in order to adapt : home delivery, click & collect in store, drive-thru, and contactless payment are now common practices, like so many examples which show the rise in hybrid distribution or phygital commerce.

What happens to brands’ customer service with this new situation ? How can one deliver exceptional customer experiences in a changing context ? This can be done by following a few essential rules :

Offer a seamless phygital journey

Order online and pick up your order in store—this is the pledge of click & collect (web to store). 73% of French customers believe that click & collect will permanently change consumer habits, and 85% think that there is a real challenge for businesses to develop this type of phygital plan. As customer journeys are becoming more complex, the customer experience must remain seamless and free itself of any barrier between the physical and digital. Your customer service department must therefore reinvent itself and adapt customer service to the reality of the market and to the multiple contact points which now exist along the customer journey.

Take an omnichannel approach

With more than 4.2 billion active users on social media** and more and more interactions taking place on digital channels, companies must turn their customer service into an omnichannel relationship. Chat, instant messaging, and social media have become customers’ preferred channels, in addition to more traditional channels such as email and telephone. A Deloitte study further reveals that 60% of customers interact with companies through different communication channels, thanks to different digital tools available to them, and that these customers expect a consistent user experience. Offering omnichannel customer service is no longer just an option or a luxury for brands but rather an essential digital practice that needs to be at the heart of their strategy.


Break down barriers in customer interactions

According to Salesforce***, adopting an omnichannel approach allows companies to offer a consistent experience, which 75% of customers expect to have across all channels (web, mobile, social media, physical appointments).

This approach must eliminate your internal silos and integrate channel management in a unified platform which allows your agents to switch easily from one channel to another and have a 360° view of customers and their interaction history, no matter the channel. Breaking down any barriers in customer interactions, thanks to new technologies, allows companies to create comprehensive conversations with customers, offer smooth and seamless experiences, and increase customer satisfaction.

Reduce pain points throughout the purchasing journey

Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than to not receive the proper assistance. According to Aberdeen, 86% of customers claim to have abandoned a brand after a poor experience. It is therefore essential to resolve possible pain points, no matter the point of contact—physically in-store or on digital interfaces—and at every step of the customer journey:

  • During pre-sales, by leveraging features such as web callback, click-to-call, or automated call campaigns to accelerate website conversions (product advice, shopping cart problem resolution)
  • During the purchasing journey, by offering 24/7 customer service for the management of simple requests and common operations (returns, order tracking) through an interactive voice response or chatbots
  • During post-sales, to manage delivery tracking, claims, product exchanges, or billing issues, for example

Personalize customer service

These days, customers expect personalized and prioritized relationships with brands. This trend is more evident than ever today since brands are often talking about the hyper-personalization of customer service. By integrating your contact center solution with your CRM or your industry tool – ticketing system, help desk, payment—your company can take advantage of 360° customer knowledge. The enrichment of customer information after each interaction allows you to improve your single customer view (SCV) and consolidate customer data during a customer journey. In addition to the smooth and seamless experiences that you are offering your customers, you will enable your customer service agents to be more efficient and personal with customers during each interaction.

Take a customer-centric approach

Placing your customers at the heart of your strategy is essential to increasing their loyalty. Conversation recording and sending satisfaction surveys immediately after each interaction in order to measure NPS in real time are equally essential practices for recognizing customer feedback and improving customer service efficiency. In this manner, you can increase the engagement of your agents, who will become true brand ambassadors, and allow them to deliver optimal service quality.


The changes of today are the norms of tomorrow, and optimizing the role of customer service is essential to being able to adapt to an increasingly present digital reality. So much so that, according to a HubSpot study, close to 93% of customers consider customer service an essential element to their brand loyalty. This means that, despite the recent changes in retail, brands’ customer service departments play an essential role in this industry.


* OpinionWay study

** We Are Social and Hootsuite Digital Report 2021

*** State of the Connected Customer – Salesforce


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