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Adapt to survive, customer expert warns
5th January 2021

By Karen Pickwick

Online shopping operations have come under pressure from consumers rushing to book deliveries as the new coronavirus lockdown began.

Panic-buying set in following the Prime Minister’s address last night (Monday), with desperate shoppers’ attempts to book deliveries causing sites and apps to crash.

Many took to social media to vent their frustration and report issues with the likes of supermarket giants Sainsbury's and Tesco, according to Toby Bland, retail expert and senior vice-president at Teleperformance.

He says that during times of heightened anxiety, it is critical that retailers operate in a ‘super-fast time horizon’ and have all of their bases covered.

“Each interaction matters,” he said, “and it is essential that every time a customer interacts with a company, they leave the experience feeling satisfied.

“Consumers, therefore, need to be kept informed throughout their experience via digitally-connected devices and apps. Industry players need to provide direct support through multiple channels such as chat, voice, email and social media to help customers get answers instantly.

“As more consumers move online to purchase food and drink, grocers must be agile in responding to their needs and remove friction from the digital purchasing experience to ensure customers can access what they want, when they want it.

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“Over 27% of UK retailers are not communicating with the customer from the time they say ‘thank you for your order’ to the delivery itself. That’s no longer acceptable. Customers want to know where their delivery is so they can plan their day.

“The trick is to allow customers to move seamlessly through the end-to-end journey and make it unlikely that they’ll ever want to switch brands.”

As we enter a new year, Toby says, retailers will need to reflect on their strategy and ‘recalibrate to break the transactional mould’ they have traditionally relied on and keep in step with what consumers expect in a new digital era.

“Previously underutilised touchpoints such as omnichannel experiences, click and collect services and automation have accelerated over the last year, showing it is possible to adapt,” he said.

“This year, these options and agility will prove to be critical staples to the overall shopping experience and now, more than ever, grocers will need to continue adding real value for shoppers. If they do not, they could be left behind.”