New Verint Research Highlights Retail Holiday Staffing Shortages, Underscoring the Need for Customer Experience Automation

Beyond Resolving the ‘Help Wanted’ Issue, Omni-Channel Retailing Success Depends on Connecting Customer Data Across All Channels and Putting Customer Feedback into Practice

As retailers head into the ever-critical holiday shopping season, new research from Verint, The Customer Engagement Company highlights key customer engagement challenges and opportunities amidst a backdrop of labor shortages.

More than half of retailers surveyed said that effectively staffing stores will be the greatest challenge this year with 86 percent facing at least one challenge related to hiring and staffing customer-facing roles for the upcoming holiday season. Fifty percent report issues finding qualified people to work in their stores, while 30 percent are struggling to fill positions in the contact center and back office.

Labor issues persist beyond the struggle for customer-facing candidates, with 34 percent of retailers reporting not having enough Human Resources (HR) staff to handle the number of vacancies needing to be filled.

In the age of labor scarcity, automation to support modern digital customer engagement can be of tremendous value for the retail sector, where customer experience is paramount. In fact, 55 percent of individuals with roles of director or higher consider chatbots to be a key part of their customer engagement strategy, an increase of 10 points compared to last year’s survey.

According to Verint’s Jenni Palocsik, vice president, marketing insights, experience and enablement, “Retailers need strategies that provide rich customer engagement and fill the gaps that exist due to labor shortages. By providing in-channel automation through bots, private messaging, and self-service options through knowledge and community forums, it can lessen the demands and the workloads of human agents. Leveraging customer experience automation also lowers the cost to serve and creates a more seamless experience for customers.”

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Retailers are Collecting Data, but Need to Action Customer Feedback

The survey shows retailers recognize the value in collecting customer feedback to understand buyer behavior and how to best serve customers, but there is room for improvement in applying learnings.

Retailers plan to focus on their in-store and/or mobile app channels to improve customer service and engagement during the next 12 months.

Only 56 percent of all retailers who collect feedback from customers after they interact with them on digital channels feel they are “very effectively” using these insights to improve customers’ experiences on digital channels.

Just 54 percent of retailers that sell products in brick & mortar stores collect feedback from customers after their store visits feel they are “very effectively” using insights to improve customers’ in-store experiences.

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Connecting Customer Data Across Channels is Key to Omni-Channel Retailing

While shoppers engage with retailers in an omni-channel fashion, many retailers struggle to share customer data across channels to help support omni-channel engagement. Of the retailers that connect customer data across some of their digital channels, only 22 percent are very effective in using insights to improve digital channel experiences as well as in-store experiences.

However, the retailers that connect the customer data across all engagement channels are more than three times as likely to use insights very effectively to improve their experiences on digital channels. In fact, the study found that those retailers are very effectively leveraging insights to improve experiences in-store (73%) and on digital channels (75%).

Verint experts say customer experience automation can help activate customer insights, closing feedback loops, to help retailers with continuous improvement.

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