Humanising brand interactions online to win the digital game
The upcoming closure of House of Fraser’s flagship Oxford Street store marks once again the dangers that face retailers who are slow to adapt. Though the growing importance and convenience of online shopping is not denied, admittedly it’s a shame to see a flagship store go. Traditionally, flagship stores have offered customers that extra special experience. With sales assistants for dedicated floors, from beauty to consumer electronics, customers could access invaluable tailored help choose the right product and make their purchase. The challenge that retailers have today is figuring out how to replicate sales assistants online.
Interestingly, KPMG’s new Customer Experience Report has revealed that although customer experience in the UK has dipped for the first time since 2017, digital-first brands are bucking the trend. According to the report, 56% of brand interactions are now taking place using technology, but the technology needs to be humanised. You need to find ways to pinpoint customer motivations and guide them through their shopping journey, just like a sales assistant would in real life. In fact, the leading digital brands on KPMG’s ‘top 100’ list are those that have “succeeded in making digital connections feel human and emotional”.
While we thought we were starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, the pandemic is not over just yet. Countries everywhere are implementing additional restrictions this winter, and many will be forced to shop and seek personalised guidance online this Christmas. Our recent research reveals that in the lead up to Christmas, the majority of consumers in the UK (51%) plan to shop online for gifts, so anyone looking to cut through that noise and connect with customers scrambling for presents online needs to take action immediately.
Needless to say, an impersonal chatbot doesn’t cut it but with the right technology, brands can simulate the in-store experience, providing the tailored help and guidance consumers need to discover and choose products. Through problem solvers and surveys, retailers can get to the heart of customers' needs, guide them to relevant products, and give them the confidence to make their purchase online. Timing is everything here. Your technology-led interactions will become more human if you engage with customers at the right time - it’s all about replicating the moment an attentive sales assistant catches the eye of a customer on the shop floor. You need to understand the best time to prompt your customers, so you only offer timely help without disrupting their journey.
Shopping behaviours have changed, and consumers are more comfortable than ever buying online, but there is still a desire for the in-store customer service experience. Adaptable retailers are recognising that customer service needs to stand up in both worlds equally. It needs to be human first and foremost, no matter where it’s taking place. With the right tools, retailers can recreate the magic of the bespoke in-store experience online, so there’s no reason for consumers to miss in-person customer service.
If you would like to find out more about how technology can help your brand humanise interactions with customers online, get in touch with the Ve team today. You can also read more about how to inject empathy into your digital experience here.