There are plenty of benefits that unified communications (UC) can offer specific verticals. For retail, it’s especially relevant, given that UC can be a tremendous productivity and customer loyalty enhancer.
Here are five big ways that UC can help retailers make their businesses better:
1. Employee Management
Retail is a seasonal business, and during long weekends and the holidays staff levels are at their peak. The first quarter is traditionally low-volume, and staff levels drop to skeleton crews. UC allows stores to support these changes fluidly, scaling communications seats up and down quickly so that the range of anywhere, anytime features, including text messaging, voice communications, and video, are available when employees need them and not costing the business money when they don’t. Managers also can use the full cadre of collaboration features to communicate with employees about scheduling and hours.
2. Better Customer Service
In a retail environment, sales associates are out on the floor, moving around, assisting customers. A good UC system enables a range of shopper-friendly capabilities. Associates can quickly communicate with other departments about item availability and pricing while staying with the customer. Centralized access via mobile phone or tablet to all special offer details is enabled, giving associates out on the floor the information they need at their fingertips. IM and presence is available for shop employees to collaborate for customer service if they can’t answer the question themselves.
Retailers have a lot of environment-specific third-party software, and UC can make their use that much more effective. For instance, it can be used alongside the retailer’s inventory management system, with automatic triggers set for low stock levels. In the event of an alarm, the UC system could then alert the right stakeholders dynamically to take care of the shortfall. The result is an automated process improvement that can ensure the right people are communicating so items don’t fall out of stock—thus improving customer experience.
4. Better Phone Service
Many retailers rely on legacy telecom systems that offer little in the way of bells and whistles. UC can enhance interactions with customers and potential customers that may be calling the store for information on opening hours and location, return policies, special offers, and so on. Phone trees, recorded advertising while callers are on hold, the ability to text or IM a coworker to get a question answered, the ability to escalate that message to a call or video chat, and integration with contact center software are just a few examples. Not to mention, switching VoIP calls can result in significant savings.
5. Supercharge Online Transactions
Every brick-and-mortar business now has a digital counterpart, and the ability to integrate the two can provide a big differentiator in the customer-serving department. Imagine allowing customers to chat online live with an in-store associate, or enabling emails to be routed automatically to a unified messaging inbox shared by employee groups and accessible via mobile. UC allows retailers to be fully connected with their customers across digital, phone, and in-store channels, or a mix of all three.