23 May 2018

Customer experience, or CX, is a hot topic in commerce and hospitality. The term is borrowed from the world of IT, where the related concept of ‘user experience’ (UX) is an important design element in the development of software, video games, apps and other digital platforms.

Indeed, the concept of ‘CX’ has mainly evolved from ecommerce, where brands like Amazon have built massive global businesses on the back of an unwavering focus on service and seamless, enjoyable retail experiences for customers. Designing ‘customer journeys’ to optimize the online experience has become a side industry in its own right.

Of course, the idea that good service and attention to customer needs helps to drive sales is nothing new, and we have come full circle to find that the customer experience is as important in-store as it is online.

The difference now is that technology plays a key role in delivering those positive, pleasing experiences that keep customers flocking to a store, restaurant or hotel.

To deliver a positive online experience, retailers must create bright, attractive websites that are easy to find and navigate, and give visitors all the information and functions they need for a fast and painless purchasing experience.

There is plenty that technology can offer in the store as well. One of the best tools a business has for improving in-store CX is the touchscreen. Deployed on tablets or customer-facing displays, touchscreens have the potential to improve service levels and customer satisfaction.   In the rest of this article, and then following up next time, we will look closely at how.

Making shopping interactive

Last year, Forbes ran an article that claimed the secret of getting customers to buy more in store was not by offering them more choice in what to buy, but by giving them more to do in the store.

There are two reasons why this is likely to work. One: ‘things to do’ translates to all-important dwell time, or time spent in store. More dwell time is known to correlate to increased sales. Two: people are more likely to buy when their brains are switched to an active, participatory mindset, as opposed to passive, going-through-the-motions browsing.

Screens in general are a great way to get customers lingering and involved in store, for example by showing promotional videos that grab attention. But touchscreens are even better, as they give people something to do as well as something to watch. Whether it is a self-service stock look-up kiosk, or playing a game or quiz, the key is to keep people in store for longer and keep them actively doing something. 

Provide self-service options

Although it sounds strange to say it, some people do not like being approached in the store. They may feel being asked ‘Can I help you?’ by a shop assistant is intrusive or they may just be shy. Whatever the reason, anything that makes a customer feel uncomfortable is not good for CX.

The remedy is to provide those types of shoppers with self-service options so they can help themselves as they see fit. This is another lesson that in-store operations has borrowed from online. Given the option of looking up product information online or contacting a sales associate, a large proportion of people choose the former.

The evidence from eCommerce seems to be that a lot of shoppers value their independence when buying. Touchscreens allow businesses to cater to that preference in the store.