Communication Challenges for Retail Stores

Most retail stores have established many forms of communication to assist customers prior to trekking to the store. These systems include a web site, email, fax, online shopping, automated attendant, custom call routing (CCR) and interactive voice recognition (IVR). All these modes of communications should serve to enhance the customer experience. After all, the ultimate goal is to quickly and efficiently service the needs of the customer while maximizing a return.

Sometimes these technological enhancements serve to frustrate rather than facilitate interaction. It is imperative to utilize a concise communication management system (CMS) to qualify the exchange of information.

Many retail stores are equipped with the latest automated attendant and custom call routing features.
But how many times have you called your favorite local retail outlet to inquire about a particular item? Do you end up answering countless questions and then end up in the mailbox for electronics instead of hardware? Or worse you get disconnected?

Usually retail stores have a cookie cutter approach to each of their stores. Sometimes this approach can cause varying results. For example, the needs of a store in Grand Rapids, MI can be very different than those in Austin, TX. Traffic management is essential in determining the busiest or peak time periods. Ring time, abandoned calls and grade of service analysis can assist in understanding call blockage and facility usage.

IP telephony is rapidly gaining acceptance and is being deployed in many retail chains. Traditional circuit switched PBXs are being replaced with next generation IP systems. This generally results in greater connectivity between the remote stores and corporate headquarters, better network traffic flow and reduced long distance charges.

However managers also need to be aware of over compensation. IP trunking, wireless handsets and other handheld devices may alleviate traffic overload in popular locations but may be an unnecessary expense in others. A proper CMS provides the ability to obtain quantitative statistics to justify a technology investment.
Many retail chains struggle with workforce management and productivity. A CMS system provides exception management reports which highlight long duration, excessive cost and misdialed calls. Each call may be pinpointed to a particular password, account code, extension or authorization number. Detailed telephone charges reports will highlight usage reports and curb misuse and abuse.

Forward-thinking communications managers realize a call management system can yield significant benefits to the corporation. These benefits include improved measurement of IP telephony traffic, increased cost allocation, detection of fraud and greater employee productivity.