Creating “Share Worthy” Customer-Centric Experiences

customer_circleThere are many names for today.  The Millennial age.  The Customer Age.  The Age of Information.  Regardless of what we call it, there is one thing that we do know, and Kate Leggett of Forrester said it perfectly, “Executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are.  Customers do.”

When you sit back and think about this brief, yet powerful statement, it is critical to understand that while company visions may flow from boardrooms, their effectivity is highly contingent on how much they are based on customer feedback.  For companies to remain viable now and into the future, they must pay very close attention to customers, especially in what they are saying.  If customers have a bad experience, you can be rest assured that they are going to tell someone about it.

To help illustrate this point, it is important understand that social media plays into this.  For example, based on research found in the Multichannel Customer Service Survey, 35% of customers have complained about a brand on social media, and 52% have praised a brand on social media.  When you pair this with the notion that 84% of customers have used a search engine to look for product and/or service information.  Therefore, if a customer is posting a negative review about your brand on social media, you can be pretty confident that someone else is going to not only read, but probably believe it, despite not necessarily knowing the person.

Now, this article could be very short if we simply said “just pay a few people to troll the internet for bad reviews and respond to them,” because according the same survey above, 51% of customers said that the response gave them a more favorable view of the brand.

But, let’s pause here and think for a minute.  Why are people writing bad reviews in the first place?  What is happening inside of the brick-and-mortars that is causing them dissatisfaction?  Are they not finding the products they need?  Are your lines too long?  Are your associates not helpful?  While there are literally hundreds of questions that can be asked at this point, there are a few questions and that open the door to the most “noisy” complaints.

  1. When I am looking for help, either there is no one around, or when I do find someone, they do not know anything.
  2. There are more than (10) registers available, but only (2) of them are actually staffed.
  3. Customer received your email about a certain product, only to find it unavailable in your local store.

As frustrating as all of these scenarios are, companies that are growing today are focusing on enhancing the customer experience.  The end result of this is that customer leaves a store so satisfied that they feel almost obligated to share it with their friends, not to mention across social media.  So, the question to ask here is, what are these business doing to enhance the customer experience?

While some of what I say in response to this question may not apply to a few brands, I am confident in saying that deploying innovative technology can play a major part in reversing the trend of bad reviews, not to mention increasing same-store sales.  To clarify, all three frustrations mentioned above can be partially, if not completely remedied by using compelling technology solutions to create immersive brand experiences.

For example, take frustration number one.  “When I am looking for help, either there is no one around, or what I do find someone, they do not know anything.”  While a business can obviously hire more people, there are a lot of costs associated with this, and still no absolute guarantee that they will be exactly where they are needed when they are needed.  Therefore, more and more businesses are looking to digital associates that are strategically placed throughout a store.  These touchscreen associates provide an “always there” associate that someone can simply walk up to and begin interacting with.  While these solutions can be as basic as needed, they can also be loaded with compelling video content to visually engage and inform your customers with relevant content enticing them to buy, including infinite cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.  Furthermore, these kiosks do not require vacation time or benefits beyond a 110v plug, and they can play specific and scheduled content to engage your customers in a way that an associate may not be able to.  Additionally, they can be paired with affordable directional audio speakers to provide compelling audio without disrupting other shoppers.

Looking to frustration number two, “there are more than (10) registers available, but only (2) of them are actually staffed” leading to long lines.  For today’s generation, having to wait is a nuisance, and nothing makes a customer question their intended purchase more than waiting.  Therefore, companies that do not want to simply hire more people to run registers are looking to similar technology mentioned above to enable customers to check out even more quickly.  Grocery stores and various retail chains are capitalizing on this with self-checkout registers and kiosks that enable ordering products online.  With such technology, your customers reduce and/or eliminate waiting, and if done right, they are introduced to cross/upsell products.  An example of this would be someone buying a toy that is offered batteries or a replacement warranty, thus adding to the sale with high margin items.

And finally, looking to frustration point number three, “I received your email about a certain product, only to find it unavailable in my local store.”  While this has happened to many, if not all of us, not being to buy something you have set out to get is extremely frustrating.  Therefore, in much the same manner as the points above, engaging digital solutions like kiosks, can provide visual guidance to a product’s location, availability at another store, or even allow a customer to place the order online.  Regardless of the solution, you have a customer that does not leave empty handed.  They either have the have the product they wanted (and possibly with applicable cross-promoted items) or they have the information they need to find the product at another location.  Either way, they leave with a positive experience, and one that they will probably share.

As stated above, while digital technology may not fit with every business type or model, it is imperative to at least pay close attention to it, as well as the staggering statistics about the importance of providing good customer experiences.  Because whether we like it or not, by 2020*, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Ready to enhance your customers’ experience?  Visit http://unleash.hughes.com/engage to learn what tools are available to better engage your most valuable asset.

Enhancing Customer Experiences with Digital Kiosks and Signage Webinar, Hosted by #HughesON.

 

*2014 State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey

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