Brands like Target, Lowe’s, Patagonia, and Starbucks have one thing in common: a deep obsession with their customers. Forbes lists them among the most customer-centric companies of the year.

These brands are tuned into customer behavior and can adapt quickly to changing expectations. And in recent years, those expectations have shifted faster than ever toward digital and self-service experiences.

For retailers, no event illustrates this trend more clearly than Black Friday. Last year, shoppers spent US$9 billion shopping online—a 21.6% year-over-year increase—even while foot traffic in physical stores shrank by 52.1% in the same period.

As customers continue to shift their activity to digital channels, innovative retailers are finding ways to incorporate digital tools to enhance all aspects of customer experience. And when it comes to customer service, one of the biggest opportunities is social messaging, which enables brands to meet customers where they are: online.

  • 73% of consumers will abandon a brand after three or fewer negative customer service experiences.
  • 44% of consumers will rarely or never complain to a company about a negative customer service experience, so businesses may never know the reason for attrition.

In this guide, you’ll discover the growing role of digital customer support in retail and the key benefits social messaging apps play in shaping great customer experiences in retail.