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How to maintain communication during store closures


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We are living in a time when a retailer’s ability to communicate with customers has never been more important, or more challenging. Many businesses were shut down without adequate time to prepare to handle customer inquiries while physical stores and/or physical contact centers are now closed. Customers, however, still expect quick service and first call resolution, not phone numbers or voicemails that go unanswered.

If you’re a retail business owner, you can keep up your communication with customers and continue to address customer inquiries—from the ordinary to complex—with cloud communications and contact center solutions. Here’s how to make it happen.

Customer Call Routing Ensures 24/7 Coverage for Retail Businesses

Most retailers have closed their brick-and-mortar stores and shut down corporate offices—but business operations must continue, remotely. What’s your plan for keeping communications flowing to and from customers, employees, and executives, not to mention individual stores and globally dispersed workers?

Manual call forwarding is a lot more challenging than it can seem at first glance—especially in a remote work environment—and the sheer scale of incoming customer calls can be difficult to manage. Look for a cloud contact center platform with advanced call routing options, such as skills-based call routing, which lets managers create rules to automatically allocate calls to the right customer representative, based on their level of skill and experience.

It’s also important to be ready and able to communicate with customers on their channel of choice, which, for many customers nowadays, is social media. You’ll want to implement an omnichannel communication platform with social listening capabilities, so your team gets notified every time your brand is mentioned on social media and they can respond to consumer queries voiced on social media in a shorter time frame. 

Forward Store Calls to Remote Agents 

When customers dial local (closed) stores, their numbers must quickly be forwarded to new locations so your remote workers can then answer calls on their own phones. If retailers use regional carriers for their stores (e.g., AT&T, Verizon) that have different call forwarding capabilities and rules, this can lead to an administrative nightmare of dropped calls, crossed signals, and missed customer service requests.

A cloud-based centralized phone system can help your team manage inbound calls. Call routing helps your team stay organized in times of chaos by creating clarity around call management as your incoming call load increases. A softphone can remotely transform any PC or Mac into a sophisticated call controller, so you can begin managing and delegating calls to employees’ cell phones without the addition of any new hardware.

Call Routing for Team Leaders

Generally, call delegation is used by administrative assistants to route calls to executives (or other staff) for whom they work. Retailers can take advantage of this feature by using call delegation to put one senior customer service executive or corporate staff member in charge of routing calls to up to 10 assistants. At the central console, your senior exec can just pick what numbers they want to forward and to whom—they can even set rules to route calls from certain numbers to a specific employee or voicemail system.

The benefit a cloud solution provides is that the assistant can still perform their duties while working from home, thereby protecting executives from disruptions at a critical time.

Respond to Customer Queries on Every Channel

Delegating calls is one thing, but what about when a customer leaves a voicemail message or asks for a phone call to follow up on a customer service request that was submitted digitally? It’s easy for open customer cases to fall through the cracks if you don’t have a system to assign customer queries to specific employees. Fortunately, some cloud contact center solutions also let your customer service managers assign tasks to specific employees in their app, make notes, share files, add team members, and request evidence of task completion from specific employees.

Lockdowns have led to entire offices suddenly working remotely. This can be a challenging feat if you’re not used to managing a digital customer service team. But a cloud contact center with omnichannel task management capabilities can help you increase accountability from your customer service team—even when they’re unexpectedly working from home. If your company could benefit from customer engagement options, find out how your remote workforce can get up and running with RingCentral—at no cost.

Centrally Administer Greetings to Personalize the Experience

One of the most effective ways to maintain communication with customers when you’re out of the office is completely hands-off. With a cloud-based, centralized phone system, you can use an auto attendant to share key information and route customer calls to the right branch of your business. RingCentral’s IP telephone system enables you to further customize your recorded message to address customers’ needs. You can record different greetings for each phone number, day of the week, and/or time of day—so your customers get a fully personalized experience each time they call in, even when your staff isn’t available to take their calls.

Cloud Communications Enables Flexible Communication

These are strange times, but when they end (and they will end), customers will remember which retailers made themselves available and maintained communication during the shutdown. RingCentral’s cloud communications solutions can give your team the flexibility they need to continue professionally responding to customers’ inquiries remotely from any device. Keep your customers satisfied so they’re ready to purchase from you again when life resumes.

RingCentral combines communications—voice, video, and team messaging—into one seamlessly integrated platform that works across multiple devices and includes cloud contact center technology. It also offers chat, file sharing, and task management features and even integrates with popular business apps like Google Drive, Box, and Jira. Customer service agents and corporate employees can access RingCentral’s cloud-based app from anywhere and on any device—so your remote workforce can still work together to meet your customers’ evolving needs.

Originally published Apr 27, 2020, updated Dec 30, 2022

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