Technology is not the answer. Or rather, technology is not the experience.
When we say your customers crave connection, we don’t mean they crave technology. Instead, they expect technology.
Retailers often make the mistake of presuming new technologies will catapult them into new connections. They add supposedly innovative bells and whistles to their brick and mortars believing that somehow this is the definition of an engaging customer experience. But a digital foot measurement tool or a customer service kiosk aren’t definitive of a great customer experience; they’re cool amenities, sure, but they don’t foster a personal, genuine connection or even make your retailer particularly memorable. In fact, those technological advancements aren’t even a unique aspect of your customer experience, they’re just an assumed part of your customer experience.
You see, technology has become so enmeshed in our day-to-day lives that it no longer has the impact it once did; it no longer wows or engages your clientele. Customers expect you to connect with them on social media, they expect you to offer special offers via email, they might even expect you to have an app—so when you offer these technologies and expect a pat on the back, you’ll be met instead with a knowing nod.
Besides, the technologies you offer aren’t the reason behind why people choose you over your competitor; that’s a decision based entirely in the customer experience you offer, by which we mean the service and relationships you offer. People don’t evaluate the new airline technologies, they expect them. What wins the air travel battle is the personal experience offered by each airline’s phone operators, flight attendants, gate attendants, even the little things, like having the captain stand at the door and thank passengers as they walk off the plane. It’s the personal connections airlines cultivate that earn them their fanbase and unerring customer support.
The same concept applies to your retailer. Your customers don’t evaluate you and your competitors based on the technology you offer; they don’t choose their go-to retailer based on their smart POS system or their digital closets. Instead, they choose to shop with you—or your competitors—based on the connection they’ve developed with you or the interactions they’ve heard about from their friends.
If you’re expecting technology to be the answer to your problems, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Not to mention, it’s a losing battle: Your customers expect your new technology, and the standards associated with that technology are only going to be raised every year. Instead, if you want success, it’s your responsibility to offer them more than technology.
Your customers may expect technology, but you know what they don’t expect, and will be pleasantly surprised by? A well-trained staff who asks the right questions and gives the right answers; a staff who develop relationships with them; a staff who know how to truly connect with them on a personal level.
Your customers are jaded. They crave connection, and again and again they feel their request for such met instead with obtrusive technology. We know that customers crave trust, real people, and connection, with or without technology—so give them what they crave.