Don’t Force Consumers Into the Twilight Shopping Zone

Advancements in technology that shift consumer expectations to faster, easier and more personalized service continue to rapidly change the retail landscape. Five years ago, consumers were willing to wait 10-13 minutes for service. Today, average consumers will wait less than two minutes, according to the 2019 Google Consumer Survey, Arise Report.

If you’re like me, you’ve likely experienced the frustrating automated contact centers that lead you down a path of no return, the brick-and-mortar store where you cannot find a single human being to help you, or the shopping experience that makes you want to scream. Our time is precious; we expect retailers to know what we want, when we want it, and to help us get in and get out fast.

When I was a young child, I remember my grandmother dressing up, putting on her gloves and walking with her cart to the grocery store. I often ventured with her and enjoyed the discussion during the journey. From the butcher to the bagger, everyone in the store knew her. They knew the special products that she loved to purchase — and they often set them aside for her because they knew which day she would be in to shop. Consumers want to feel known and special; they want their time to be appreciated. When a retailer makes them feel this way, they gain the consumer’s trust and loyalty.

The Game of Duck, Duck, Goose

In the children’s game “Duck, duck, goose,” you sit in a circle and wait for someone to tap you on the head and say “Goose.” At that point, you stand up and run around the circle to tag the person who tapped you on the head. Yesterday, I had a similar experience at a retail store.

I was shopping for a picture frame. I had received a coupon via mail but forgot to bring it to the store. While standing in the aisle, I searched the store’s website on my phone — a typical journey that a retail buyer takes. I figured I could find the coupon online. Surely, the store would be able to look me up and see that I had an outstanding coupon that they had sent me.

The store was empty, so I had to go on wild goose chase to find a salesperson to help me. When I couldn’t find one, I took my item to a cashier. There I was told that I could buy the item — and then bring it back later with the printed coupon. Then they would credit me the difference. This wasn’t a solution that respected my time. This retailer should have known that they had already sent me the coupon.

Then the shopping experience got really interesting. I tried to pay cash for the picture frame, but the cashier informed me she didn’t know how to process a cash transaction. So, now even if I wanted to be inconvenienced buying the picture frame, I could only pay with a credit card. I was certain I was shopping in the Twilight Zone.

Has technology taken us to the point where stores don’t train their staff on how to handle cash anymore? I decided to leave the store without the product — they just didn’t value my time or how I wanted to transact with them.

“Being like everybody is the same as being nobody”

–Rod Serling

Today, retailers — online and brick-and-mortar — have access to vast amounts of data that could enable them to understand consumer purchase behaviors and track shopping journeys. This data is the key to enabling them to deliver a personalized consumer experience. However, many retailers aren’t equipped with a way to centralize, integrate and analyze this consumer data.

Once the data is connected, companies lack the ability to connect voice and digital interaction channels to orchestrate real-time customer engagement. Data and channel integration gaps affect the ability of the business to predict the right time to engage consumers, personalize the shopping experience and assist retail personnel in delivering a truly special shopping experience.  This says to retailers, “When customers are treated like everybody, they feel like nobody.”

A Future With Predictive Engagement

Suppose that this retailer had engaged with me online via chat, or through a bot, to offer the product coupon code as I was surfing their website while standing in their store. Or supposed that the coupon code automatically appeared for me online at checkout when I entered my credit card. I could’ve even received an offer while shopping online for a complementary product I had also been considering.

By not engaging customers in a way that’s meaningful and relevant to them, retailers miss not only the initial sale but also the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell other items that the consumer values. With access to customer data, retailers can improve the online shopping experience for the consumer. Making the customer journey easy — and delivering an exceptional shopping experience — gives customers the time and ability to consider other offers.

Online retailers could leverage new machine learning technology that enables them to act in real time with consumers, to personalize the customer experience, and to offer relevant cross-sell and up-sell opportunities by connecting consumer online shopping data with voice, digital chat and content offers.

Capturing and understanding your potential buyers’ intent while they’re browsing your website is very important. But offering them help using real-time capabilities like chat with an agent or bot — when they need it — is vital. And this is the secret sauce that can dramatically increase your conversion rate, by making your customers happy and making sure your marketing dollars really convert.

Technology has the power to make our lives better. It’s not a replacement for human contact; it enables humans to be smarter at how they service customers. Once consumers experience personalized retail sales and service support, they’ll expect it. And retailers must be prepared to keep up with this growing demand for digital customer experience innovation.

To learz more about how Genesys can help you to convert all of your valued prospects, apply for a free Prospect Conversion solution trial today.