Digital-savvy consumers have incredibly high expectations when it comes to the customer experience. A cab, restaurant table or even accommodation on the other side of the world can all be secured within a few swipes of their smartphone.
There is no denying that technology has revolutionised almost every aspect of the customer journey.
Acronyms such as AR, VR, and IoT have all entered the mainstream as homes increasingly have better technology than the office where they work. The so-called ‘‘Uberisation’ of everything is here, and businesses are having to adapt to provide a personalised customer experience.
Our addiction for instant gratification encourages us to go kicking and screaming towards social media channels and give companies a hard time when we don’t get our own way. Retailers have been desperately searching for a method to appease the app fatigued digital consumer without being too intrusive.
Many stores have dabbled with beacon technology that sends messages to users smartphones as they pass a Bluetooth signal. But, the majority of people reject the spam like notifications or intrusive advertising messages. Meanwhile, others have Bluetooth disabled to save precious battery life on long days at the mall.
Intu is the UK’s largest shopping centre operator that is hoping to wow its shoppers with technology. The Trafford Centre was the first mall to transform its retail environment with a combination of indoor mapping and a deals app.
Both free WiFi and an app which enhances the experience within the mall. Most importantly it tackles the elephant in the room that all users are secretly thinking, what’s in it for me? The ability to offer visitors a free snack that retailers know have been at the mall for four hours might even help keep them spending both more time and money too.
In an age where time has become the new currency, waiting in line is something else that most will go out of their way to avoid. Whether you are attending a concert, sporting event or a shopping mall, if the food or drink outlet has a long line of people, most choose to walk away.
Thankfully, businesses are also starting to realise that the quickest way to increase revenue and improve the customer satisfaction is to use technology based queue busting solutions. Minimising queue time or distracting crowds in such a way that the perceived wait is less is something, Disney has mastered. Many have attempted to replicate this approach, but there is a very short list of those that pull it off.
Our demands for the simplification and personalisation of almost everything is also encouraging businesses to make use of every aspect of their data. Thankfully, advances in both AI and machine learning are making it possible act in real-time to give customers what they want and when they want it.
The creation of robust profiles to deliver personalised experiences is already becoming paramount to businesses with a disrupt before they are disrupted ethos. Ensuring frequent shoppers only receive communication or information that is directly relevant and valuable to them is already providing early adopters with a competitive advantage.
However, there is an inconvenient truth that there is an increasing digital disconnect in some elements of the customer experience. Companies that have invested more in technology than people could unwittingly be scoring an own goal. This is often most apparent when an expensive solution has been implemented but somehow neglected to obtain buy-in from their own staff.
A recent report revealed that eighty-three percent of consumers prefer dealing with human beings. These figures are even more powerful when combined with the fact that fifty-two percent switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service.
Unsurprisingly, it seems that the best way to improve the customer experience is a hybrid of smart technology solutions to make visitors feel special. But, we should never underestimate the power of a friendly face and a warm smile.