The gap between human support and digital self-service is narrowing more than ever. A survey of 97,000 customers showed that the most impactful way that businesses could improve is by making their customer’s lives easier.
Businesses should keep this in mind when implementing a digital strategy. While some technology seems to exist just because it can, there is no benefit to technology replacing something which already works. The goal should be improving on the status quo for an effective yet simple customer experience. Something quicker, something smarter, something new.
Oak Labs have a lot to teach us. The company are transforming the retail experience with their state of the art ‘smart mirrors.’ These allow customers to adapt the ambience of the changing room, choose items and sizes directly from the mirror itself, and interact with sales assistants who can help them with their purchases. Customers can also pay from the mirror, and have the items delivered to their homes. Behind the scenes, the company can benefit from the collection of data about which items are being tried on, which are abandoned and why.
Putting the Customer in the Driver’s Seat
The Oak Labs dressing room experience gives each customer autonomy to reach out to a sales assistant for help when they need it, moving between the retail website, the items in stock on the shop floor, and to human assistance where necessary. Tap in the item you want and the size you need, and a staff member will bring it to you immediately.
Many businesses are encouraging their customers to grasp the same flexibility and control with online support bots and virtual assistants. They connect on all channels, allowing your customers to reach out to you via your website, by mobile phone or app, and even from social media. Long term investor Danny Vena believes that 2017 “will be the tipping point for virtual personal assistants becoming part of most people’s daily lives” as natural language processing improves.
The intelligent support chat bots offer a space for your customers to start a conversation, enabling them to be transferred seamlessly to the right member of staff if the need for human-assisted channels arises and allowing agents to focus on the issues where their effort is better allocated, armed with prior information. Rather than technology replacing the human assistants, in both cases here customers can benefit from the digital and the human elements working seamlessly together. This creates a more efficient support team, getting the customer what they need faster.
Collecting the Data That Matters
Rebecca Minkoff is one of the companies who are currently trialling the smart mirrors, and their preliminary findings show that the lessons we can learn don’t end there. Uri Minkoff comments that the mirrors are worth their weight in gold in terms of analytics too. “You can really learn some truths other than what’s sold,” he says.
While retailers both online and off might be used to analysing the data of what sells, smart analytics gives you the opportunity to look at what doesn’t and why that might be.
Which pieces of clothing were taken into the changing rooms and abandoned? What extra sizes were asked for, and which other items were looked up or requested? Using this data, the Oak Labs mirror helps customers (retailers) realize which clothing has an awkward fit or is seen as too expensive, which items are bought to complement others, and which do visitors prefer to order direct to their homes, showing they are looking for a more anonymous service.
Your website analytics could have the same capabilities, giving you a visual overview of every interaction your customers have on every channel, and the questions that they ask, too. With the help of customer feedback and interactions, your business can learn about where the specific issues are which need attention. You can then use this data as actionable analytics to make the changes where they will have the most impact.
Empowering your Staff with the Support to Succeed
But this isn’t the only behind-the-scenes benefit of cutting-edge smart technology. Russell Acton, VP of Capriza, has recently written for the Huffington Post about the importance of updating legacy systems and giving our employees the best tools to keep up with modern day best practice. “Today’s workforce needs intuitive, simple and personalised technology at their fingertips… Poor IT equals poor productivity.”
Think about it. How long does it take your staff to find the answer to a query? What systems and processes do they have to sift through? How many clicks does it take? If the answer is more complex than the simple tasks you do throughout the day on your smart phone, then your staff are likely to be frustrated, and you could be improving productivity at your workplace.
Imagine the time and productivity benefits of one centralized knowledgebase. Available on all channels, and updated constantly with real-time information. Your staff is now empowered to interact with customers and give them consistent, accurate and efficient information, information that mirrors the information the customers can also find themselves through self-service for consistent, accurate customer service at all times through all scenarios.
The Oak Labs smart mirrors are an exciting innovation for anyone who is invested in retail and CX. They are an example of how online and offline spaces are becoming more intertwined in an effort to make life easier for both customers and staff. What can you do to follow suit?