I’m not one of those people that worries about robots taking over the world or that our increasing reliance on digital has made us skittish about human interaction. Wait. . . maybe that last part. . . you have to admit, customer service isn’t what it used to be.
In the 1950’s, a man wearing a suit and tie would greet you at the door of the appliance store then walk you through the features of every model on the floor. He’d find out how many kids you have and how many loads of laundry you do in a week and an hour later he’d write up a bill of sale for the perfect washing machine.
Now, you’re lucky to find a sales associate and forget finding one who actually knows what he’s selling. So when Deloitte says that 8 out of 10 brick and mortar shoppers would rather consult a digital device than talk to a sales associate, I’m not surprised. But I think it has more to do with a lack of proper customer service than a global shift toward all things tech.
Look at the reasons people turn to a mobile device or digital kiosk while shopping:
59% of consumers would rather check their own phone for a price check than ask a sales associate. I think we’re comparing apples and oranges. Consumers would rather check their phone to see if they’re getting the BEST price. Can I get this item cheaper if I order from Amazon or simply order online? I can’t believe how many products are cheaper if you buy from the same retailer but through the web instead of in the store. It’s like they’re encouraging you to stay home.
If the consumer is simply looking for the price of an item, how is the cell phone going to help? That’s when you need one of those public price scanners. Every store should have one every three feet because even if you find an employee, they won’t know the price. Bigger question – why is it so hard to put price tags on merchandise!
Product information is something you can find on your cell and sadly, in most cases, you’re better off online than asking a sales associate.
Deloitte says that over 1 trillion dollars worth of retail sales are being influenced by digital and that by the end of this year, digital will be a part of 50% of all retail transactions. Is that good news or bad news?
It’s good that customers are okay with tracking down the information in order to purchase the right product but if I had a brick and mortar store I’d want control of that customer. You could let Susan find a cheaper product online or you can educator her on why your more expensive product is a better buy. Better quality. No shipping costs. Easy returns. You’ll throw in a bonus item if she buys today. That’s what a sales associate is supposed to do, not point to an aisle then walk the other way. And when you engage that customer and get them to buy, they’re more likely to come and buy again.
If you only sell online, this applies to you, too. Just because your customer is virtual, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach out and make their experience as pleasant and personalized as possible.