Strategies for Improving the Customer Experience
A Guide for Making Your Company Stand Out from the Competition
The Truth About Creating a Better Customer Experience
Companies of all kinds are chasing the optimal customer experience, but the term “customer experience” is broad and interpretations vary widely. However, what it comes down to is what the customer feels when engaging with your company—whether it be during a retail purchase process or through online and in-person interactions.
How can you help customers feel good about your brand, your business, your products, as well as about the decision they’re making? Giving an experiential quality to shopping or product selection—particularly through high-tech and highly visual means—not only creates engagement and interaction with your brand, it also gives customers the sense that your company is forwarding-thinking in the way it works, a leader in your field. Stimulating environments that blend video, audio, and interactive technologies engage customers.
Nike evokes powerful, positive customer feelings with its use of virtual reality and visualization technology at its flagship location. Nike Soho is more than a retail store—it’s an experience and a destination. Here Nike uses video walls and immersive technology to virtually transport shoppers to neighborhood basketball courts or running trails in Central Park. Not only can customers try on and test products, they feel what it will be like to use those products in the sporting location of their choice.
Delivering the right kind of customer experience can help companies stand out and net financial gains, yet only 22 percent of corporate leaders say their efforts have “exceeded customer expectations.” This disparity indicates there is a disconnect between customer experience goals and knowing how to achieve them.
In this guide to creating a better customer experience, we’ll share insights into:
- What Makes a Great Customer Experience
- How to Merge Technology and the Human Experience
- Choosing Technology That Improves the Customer Experience
- How Three Companies Created CX Success
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1. What Makes a Great Customer Experience?
Walk up to T-Mobile’s store in Times Square and the digital signage immediately commands your attention. Then, the immersive video displays inside the store inspire exploration. They use dynamic content to engage and inform customers through memorable visual experience. Most important is that technology doesn’t just sell to customers—they can have fun and interact with it. For example, guests can play with music, manipulate the huge interactive wall, and take selfies to share on the Times Square signage—engaging customers while enhancing brand visibility.
For NTT Group, a global leader in information and communications technology, a great customer experience means creating the most dynamic and engaging meeting experience in Silicon Valley. NTT’s state-of-the-art interactive Customer Experience Center uses Oblong Mezzanine’s advanced presentation capabilities to showcase NTT’s latest digital products and solutions to customers.
Such memorable customer experiences create delight, spark curiosity, and inspire affinity with the company, the product, and the service. A quality experience builds loyalty, which in turn, creates brand value. However, to achieve a great experience, the customer’s interaction with the technology must be flawless. It doesn’t have to be complete technology failure that ruins a customer experience—even a small glitch can cause a customer to lose faith.
While the customer experience involves all interactions a customer has with your company, the most impactful points are when customers are interacting in real time. This can be in a demonstration center, via in-store smart digital signage, in virtual dressing rooms, with product testing or prototyping, or using other technology that immerses, engages, or interacts with customers.
Customers are impressed with these experiences, but it’s important they also translate to better business outcomes. Digital signage is an example of a technology that can increase product sales by up to 33 percent, but as the solutions become more prevalent, consumers also want a human experience.
2. How to Merge Technology and the Human Experience
Almost 60 percent of consumers say companies aren’t in touch with the “human” aspect of customer experience. So how do companies balance the power and efficiency of technology with the desire for human interaction?
Since more than 80 percent of U.S. consumers would like more human interaction, here are some ways you can use automation, smart features, and the like to help you create a more targeted experience while also satisfying the desire for the human factor:
- Install technology in stores. In-person interactions allow customers to focus on your products with less distraction, and your competition does not have a presence there like they do online.Companies like Amazon are expanding their physical presence because brick-and-mortar stores—enhanced by digital technologies—offer a sense of warmth, help companies get a feel for their companies in real life, and build loyalty because it’s a place to go as well as a familiar “face” in the neighborhood. Those technologies include mobile apps, machine learning, and “hundreds of cameras” to replace traditional checkout methods and interactions with employees—though they’re around if customers need help.
- Interact face to face. Employees at banks, service stations, and other kinds of businesses remotely connect with customers—when a personal touch is needed—using video conferencing technologies.Putting a human face to your company gives it a friendly feel and can instill confidence by letting the customer know there is a person willing to help should the technology present a challenge.
- Use machine learning. When automation is used, it should be able to learn from interactions with customers—like with self-help kiosks or interactive signage that helps with wayfinding or makes product recommendations. By learning from customer choices, it can seem more human and continue to make smarter suggestions in the future.
Such technologies can satisfy the wish for a human touch even when the customer doesn’t necessarily need—or want—to interact with an actual person. Some experts contend that human-sounding artificial intelligence builds trust—but be wary of making customers believe machines have humans behind them because that can erode trust.
3. Choosing Technology That Improves the Customer Experience
The right solutions for the best customer experience will vary depending on your business goals and who your customers are, but some capabilities to consider include:
- Supporting product education and use through easy-to-use interactive features
- Enhancing the client/company relationship through personalization and trust-building
- Improving communication through real-time collaboration and information-sharing tools
More specifically, some of the top technologies improving CX are:
- Artificial intelligence. From online chatbots to in-store robotic assistants to direct customers or check product availability, AI is going to become an inextricable part of the customer experience.
- Virtual reality and visualization. Immerse customers in virtual environments to try out products—like driving simulations when purchasing a vehicle—or allowing them to shop for products from virtual shelves, try on virtual clothes, or quickly search through a large variety of products.
- Video and collaboration. Video and communication solutions allow brands to interact and exchange information with customers for a personalized experience. For example, it may be cost prohibitive to fly a salesperson to a customer, but you can still deliver human interaction through video conferencing.
- Smart, interactive signage. Digital signage solutions can make relevant product recommendations to customers based on demographics or purchase history. This makes for an easier shopping experience. Interactive video walls are great for engaging visitors or shoppers by allowing them to scroll through products or content or see personalized recommendations.
- Managed services. From managed digital signage solutions to proactive monitoring of your technology systems, management of your solutions can ensure that the customer experience is never interrupted or diminished by technology failures. A glitch has the potential to ruin the customer experience, so it’s not just a matter of purchasing an impressive solution. It’s also important to make sure the performance, reliability, and connection don’t let the customer down so that you successfully establish and grow trust with them.
Many of today’s customer-facing technologies are based in cloud or software solutions. However, the features that customers will interact with—controls, displays, VR headsets, etc.—will bear the burden of facilitating memorable and impressive experiences.
4. How Three Companies Created CX Success
AVI-SPL has helped many companies transform the customer experience through implementing and integrating technologies that engage customers and let them explore their choices the way they want to. Here is more information about what they did for three organizations known for designing exceptional customer experiences.
Polycom Experience Centers
Polycom Experience Centers allow customers to try out video and collaboration technologies as they would in their own places of work. These centers allow Polycom to provide a hands-on experience to thousands of customers who gain a better understanding of what Polycom can do for them in their own spaces.
Atmosphere Commercial Interiors Headquarters
Atmosphere Commercial Interiors renovated its headquarters to allow clients to experience the environments they are planning to create. They designed a welcoming space with easy-to-use tools that allowed clients to feel engaged from the outset.
Johnson Controls Technology Experience Center
The Johnson Controls Technology Experience Center features a Global Welcome Wall, a Showcase area, an Orientation Theater, and more. Many of the spaces encourage interactivity through touchscreens, touch tables, allowing guests to explore and understand what Johnson Control offers. The technologies and information also “enable conversations,” according to Sherrie Williams, director of executive visit centers for Johnson Controls.