In a recent documentary created by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters
, he interviews Lars Uhlrich, a once outspoken critic of the demand for online music. In the video produced in 2021, Lars has now embraced the online music world. Yet, in 2019, one-quarter of all music sales were vinyl
. Much as we’d love to deep dive into some music, the point here is that what was once either/or has become both.
Brick-and-mortar business have e-commerce channels, e-commerce channels have brick-and-mortar stores (looking at you Amazon bookstores). Stores are now their own fulfillment centers, items and food can be ordered online and picked up curbside, in-store, or via delivery. In other words, businesses are meeting their consumers where and how they want to shop.
Would we have gotten to this point as quickly if not for the pandemic
? Maybe. But for many retailers and businesses, there are a few Marketing Insights you’ll want to remember to maintain this new hybrid environment.
Customer Experience Should Remain Top of Mind
Imagine this. You visit a store to buy something off the shelf. The store is essentially empty, except for signs which say ‘available to order online.’ If everything is only available online, you’re meeting only one segment of your consumer. While the idea is to create a consumer relationship, you need to know who your customer is, their needs and desires, and meet them when, where, and how they shop.
The customer journey should be interwoven between online shopping and the increasing desire for social interaction. Shopping should still be an experience. Here a few things to consider when planning your hybrid customer journey for your business:
- How well do you know your customers? Does your customer prefer to shop online, then pick up in store?
- If they entered the store without shopping online, would you have the product they needed on the shelf or at least, in the back rooms? Why or why not?
- How do you move the customer from in-store shopping to online and back to in-store shopping?
- If your customer shops fully online, is their data protected? Privacy is a major concern for many consumers and should be considered at every level of business. Who has access to what and why?
- And if your consumer is fully remote, or unable to shop in-store, how do you provide and maintain the best customer experience all they way to their door?
And with these questions in mind, who’s helping your business build and maintain those relationships? Many businesses have remote call centers to handle customer complaints, but what about the beginning of the journey. Enter AI, chatbots, and Advanced Analytics
to move your customer and your business forward for the future. It’s important to build your customer relationship across all your shopping channels – on-line, in person, via AI or chatbot or customer service representative – a unified experience is key.
Chatbots and AI Learn from Advanced Analytics and NLP
There are only so many humans who can answer call demands. Add in all the online orders, delivery dispatches, and fulfillment options, and it can be overwhelming. Using Advanced Analytics, good Data Management, Artificial Intelligence, and Automation can all augment the ultimate customer journey experience.
AI using NLP scraped from past conversations can Data mine language samples to interpret, understand, and respond intelligently to consumer calls. Add text-based support and the benefits increase. If you’re business is more service-based than product-related, AI and chatbots can help there, too.
Much like the salesclerk when you enter a brick-and-mortar store, the chatbot is your first engagement with a prospective consumer. And its that chatbot or AI representative who will set the stage for their customer journey and experience.
Beyond Retail and Back to Basics Business?
For those in the office, or working remotely, some businesses have begun offering hybrid options. Come into the office a few days a week and work from home a few days a week. Yet, others are insisting it’s back to business as usual with some additional measures such as sanitation, plexiglass between cubicles, and physical distancing of employees.
Over the past year, it’s been proven employees don’t need to be in the office. But, it’s also important for humans to interact with each other on some social level and that includes meeting in-person. Physical distancing will be important for some time, but human interaction outside of a computer screen is also. So, while there are pros and cons, for now, the hybrid environment for businesses, schools, retailers, and restaurants is here to stay. How businesses choose to meet this mix will be interesting to watch as they incorporate available technologies while also remembering those they’re trying to serve are human.
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