Software is changing and revolutionizing the retailer-customer relationship. You may have noticed that in recent years, we’ve witnessed a fusion of the digital and the physical in the retail experience.
In 2014, Bain & Company called this phenomenon “the digical.” As their analysts looked back and reminisced on predictions that eCommerce would wipe out physical stores, they noticed that this wasn’t happening. Quite the opposite, in fact. People still wanted to go to physical places, to touch and feel objects. But they were bringing new, digitized expectations into that physical world.
“The truth is that both the digital world and the physical one are indispensable parts of life and of business,” Bain & Company wrote in the landmark study. “The real transformation taking place today isn’t the replacement of the one by the other, it’s the marriage of the two into combinations that create wholly new sources of value.”
This marriage of software tools with the very best of in-person interactions, is how small business owners can revolutionize their customer service.
The need for personalized customer service
In 2016, a survey of more than 5,000 customers showed that 72 percent were planning on shopping as much as the previous year, with an additional 18 percent planning on increasing in-store visits. And with millennials now the largest generation globally, they were bringing a whole new set of technologized expectations with them.
The same survey that predicted increased foot traffic also found that “personalized experience” and “smart recommendations” were roughly on par with “prompt service” as the thing that consumers value most highly when visiting stores. This is a direct result of the Google generation, who expect offers customized to their personal algorithms.
Cloud-based customer service
The only way you can offer this personalized form of service today in physical stores is by deploying the same smart software that is powering our online lives. And mobile point of sale tools such as Instore are designed to do just this, offering all the benefits of cloud computing.
With a mere swipe of a credit card, data is collected and aggregated into precise customer lists. This ever-growing database then functions like an entire cast of virtual researchers, working around the clock for you and documenting the relevant history and context of every single customer. This then leads to highly-enhanced customer service.
Say, for example, you run a small restaurant that does a lot of take-out orders by phone. Your employee can pull up the customer’s profile and instantly see their history. She can ask if they’d like the gluten-free pizza crust again—inserting a refreshing moment of personalization into the experience.
Or perhaps you have a waiter on the restaurant floor taking an order. By holding a tablet in his hand and tapping the order into the mPOS system, the cloud capabilities will instantly inform him if the chef’s special has just sold out, thus avoiding an awkward moment later on. It’s like your staff are suddenly empowered with teams of personal assistants, offering them the context, the data, and the tools to perform at their highest potential.
All the data you are capturing through using this software, then can be used to build deeply customer-centric offers. By linking this customer database to your loyalty program, you can deploy highly personalized offers, based on the data of who has enjoyed what the most. Once again, the technology is acting like your personal entire army of data scientists, gathering all the raw data, sorting it, prioritizing it, and offering you business value.
This razor-sharp service, that is entirely focused around the customer’s success, is the very blueprint of the future. By empowering your staff with the right technology, you can increase efficiency, deepen personal connections with customers, and serve customers more quickly and intelligently. And what’s remarkable about this is that it’s highly affordable. It doesn’t take an army, just the right set of infinitely expandable software tools.
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