23 May 2018

by Jason Southern – Channel Manager, AURES UK

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 criteria 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 providing seamless, enjoyable retail experiences for customers. Mapping out and designing ‘customer journeys’ to optimise CX online has become a side industry in its own right.

Of course, the idea that good service and paying attention to customers’ needs helps to drive sales is nothing new, and so we have come full circle to find CX talked about just as much in on-premises contexts as online.

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

And while online it is all about creating bright, attractive websites that are easy to find and navigate, that give visitors all the information and functions they need at their fingertips and smooth the way to a painless purchasing experience, there is plenty that technology can offer offline as well.

One of the best tools a business has for improving in-store CX is the touchscreen.

Deployed on tablets or customer-facing screens, they have the potential to improve service levels and see customer satisfaction rates soar. 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 retail was not offering them more choice in what to buy, but giving them more to do in store.

There are two reasons why this is likely to work – one, ‘things to do’ will translate to all-important dwell time, or time spent in store. More dwell time is known to correlate to increased sales.

Secondly, 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 service, or some kind of quiz or game to play, the key is to keep people in store for longer and actively doing something.

Provide self-service options

Although it sounds strange to say it, some people do not like customer service. 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 on-premises operations have learned from online. Given the option of using digital resources to look up the answer to a query themselves or to call or email an agent, 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 for that preference on site.