Are retailers underestimating the power of phone calls?

Scott Minihane

By Scott Minihane
14 Jan 2022


3 min read

Contents

To what degree long term consumer behaviour will have been affected by the pandemic is hard to predict. But there have certainly been some notable trends that have gathered pace over the last couple of years. Digital channels have continued to grow – even after restrictions were relaxed and shoppers were allowed to return to the high street. More and more people are now inclined to use apps or websites, rather than venturing out to the shops.

There’s no doubt that this preference has been aided by the large investment into digital channels made by retailers in 2020 – which, because of lockdowns, was mainly driven by necessity. This level of investment is not sustainable, however, and the impact of the pandemic has taken its toll.

Budget cuts are compelling retailers to make critical decisions about where to prioritise their marketing spend to maximise potential returns.

Understanding the customer journey

There is an increasing need to understand the buyer’s journey as a whole – and appreciate how different channels impact the customer. It’s important to know what percentage of consumers are researching online but purchasing offline, and vice versa.

A crucial and often overlooked element of the holistic customer experience is the role that the telephone plays. And, if you can pinpoint the action that triggers your customer calls, retailers can even optimise spend on marketing activities.

The number of calls being made to retailers increased when lockdown measures first came into force in 2020, but they have also continued to rise.

Our call intelligence data reveals that October 2021 saw a 14.3% uplift in calls in the retail sector, compared to the month before.

It’s also clear that, while people may be less willing to make the trip to a physical store, they still want to speak to people. Studies have shown that many of us prefer to interact with a human rather than using digital channels at some point on the path to purchase, or, at least, have the option available to them.

When consumers talk to a real person, they can ask more nuanced questions, as well as receiving reassurances if any doubts over a purchase remain. By tracking what happens after a call is made, retailers gain a complete understanding of the impact these interactions are having on the buying process.

A key source of knowledge

But it’s not just the role that phone calls play in the buying journey that makes this channel so valuable. Information from telephone calls can be captured, providing a crucial source of knowledge. Consumer conversations provide retailers with some of the most unfiltered and honest sources of insight they could hope to gain.

With the help of Conversation Analytics, retailers can unearth this insight and use it to make improvements to their marketing activities. This data helps them understand what is prompting customers to take an interest and call in the first place and which marketing messages are resonating with them, as well as highlighting any common doubts or barriers to purchase that might exist.

Knowing the answers to customer questions helps retailers to optimise future campaigns and refine communications both online and offline, to deliver the maximum potential return on investment. When budgets are tight, these are the types of insights that cannot be ignored.

Conversation Analytics is just one of the call intelligence tools retailers can use to provide slicker experiences for customers and operate more profitably. Our latest retail eBook explains more.

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Interested? Let’s talk.

Every conversation matters. Start one with us today to unlock insights trapped in your phone calls to drive your retail sales.

Originally published in the A1 Retail e-mag

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