Customers are seeing products, solutions, and services through a new lens – a lens that is continuing to evolve and likely to have a lasting effect on long-term behavioral trends.
As part of a Q&A series, Samsung employees across business areas share their views on what customers’ new expectations, needs and priorities are; how they plan to meet their evolved demands; and which habits are here to stay.
Name: Edward Billmaier [LinkedIn]
Title: Director, E-commerce Order Support
Location: 1.5 years
1. Has your customer’s expectations, behaviors, and priorities evolved in this new environment? If so, how?
During the early days of the pandemic when state-issued stay-at-home orders and lockdowns were first put in place, we saw a dramatic shift in the purchase behaviors of our customers on Samsung.com. Consumers were shopping with a heightened awareness of their home environment and we saw an uptick in Chromebooks and computer monitors to fulfill remote working and learning needs. And then as the impact of COVID-19 continued to unfold, we experienced a major increase in online purchases of complex products, such as TVs and home appliances.
2. How are you responding to meet the changing needs of your customer?
The e-commerce team quickly developed and implemented a series of contingency plans that allowed us to shift our teams from centralized contact centers to remote agents. This required a tremendous level of partnership across all of our support teams. Within a few weeks, we were able to shift almost everyone to a work-from-home model with seamless customer service. We also leaned heavily on our Supply Chain Management team, who were driving replenishment on Samsung.com, to secure as much inventory as possible across the aforementioned in-demand categories. And, at a time when e-commerce was being tested, we were even able to offer expedited, two-day delivery in some areas – which is no small feat.
Flexibility and empathy are some of the most important traits we zero in on.
3. How are you keeping your customers and colleagues safe while playing a reimagined role in customers’ lives?
Flexibility and empathy are some of the most important traits we zero in on. What worked in the past for our customers, our team member, agents, and partners just does not apply in our new reality. Understanding what the customer and our team members are feeling or experiencing educates us on the new challenges they’re facing and enable us to get ahead them.
For instance, we extended the window of our Trade-in Program to accommodate challenges customers were facing with shipping. We modified our signature requirements for high value items to minimize physical contact. And we put a lot of focus on our ePromoter Program, which offers customers access to Samsung.com sales associates via chat and other channels to answer pre-purchase questions about specific products and/or guide them to the products that best match their needs.
4. Which new habits and behaviors do you anticipate will continue in the long run?
It will continue to be important to hyper-communicate in the post-COVID-19 world. Behavior will be driven by new personal circumstances, such as changes in discretionary income and spare time, and reconsidered values and priorities. Given the pace of retail industry change, we need to continue to build opportunities to engage and connect with everyone – coworkers, partners and customers – and stay connected.
5. Will their new and potentially everlasting behaviors transform the industry’s future?
While the retail industry has experienced disruptions in the past, customer preferences and shopping patterns have never shifted this rapidly. Ecommerce is expected to fill the brick-and-mortar gap – from .com ease and online browsing to product availability and delivery speed. We believe this substantial change in our customers’ behavior will expedite the adoption of shopping online for years to come.