Anytime, Anywhere

Image credit to Nicholas Raymond on Flickr.

Previously, we’ve looked at some new technology in the retail arena, and how the focus has shifted back to enticing the customer with personalised products, services and loyalty plans. In this post on the retail radar, it’s all about accessibility – but does it always work out best for the customer?

Live chat

A web-only accolade, Live chat enables customers to contact companies immediately, and talk to a live person – cutting the need for back-and-forth emailing, and the consumer costs for phone lines. It also allows both parties to multi-task while in the call, and to avoid the ambiguity that sometimes comes with emailing. The downside? You’re still likely to sit in a queue, you don’t always get a record of what’s been said, and, should the connection fail, you’re back to square one.

SMS alerts

Text alerts cover everything from notifications (impending deliveries, new services, account updates) to requests (feedback, vouchers and offers), and even tickets. Some allow for responses, while some are automated; either way, they’re ideal for keeping customers in the loop. And, with ibeacon technology becoming more widespread, we’re now starting to see targeted text messaging, according to where a customer is in relation to a store or product. Aside from the threat of spam from multiple messages or uninteresting offers, this is a near-perfect invention: a service which isn’t too intrusive.

24/7 Phone lines

Offered by companies as diverse as breakdown services, banks, and some governmental organisations, together with high street retailers, customers can call phone lines for pretty much any service – with what they expect are a team of experts on the other end, ready to help. But in an age where call centres are often outsourced to foreign countries, this can be far from the case – salespeople can revert to soundboards or even ‘robots’ during a call.

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