How does a sales associate connect with a customer? Is it through eye contact? Is that enough? Or maybe it’s too much? The context was the use of mobile technology on the sales floor. It is undeniable that a growing number of shoppers are using a mobile device at all times, including while browsing the aisles.
It is also proving to be true that when sales associates are equipped with mobile devices of their own, they are enabled to work more closely with the shopper, using data and customer profiles to cut through the small talk and become a genuine advisor. Hence mobile clienteling.
It seems, though, that some retailers have concerns about the use of mobile devices by sales associates in-store. They express a fear that eye contact would be lost between associates and customers. Such a fear is understandable given that for all of human history, eye contact has been a singular and reliable window to the soul, and since no human has ever mastered the art of telepathy, it has been the best way to read a person and move a relationship forward.
But now, a superior sixth sense exists. Awareness of the motivations and feelings of consumers can be tracked, like footprints across web pages and social media sites, and transmitted directly to those tasked with helping them shop. It might be time for those who have placed their faith in the physical process of making eye contact to recognize that a parallel conversation now exists through mobile data. It is no longer unusual or uncomfortable for people to relate face-to-face while simultaneously holding and using a device for texting, searching, or sending photos. The mobile device has become a part of our lives, and to be without it – even for an hour – would be very uncomfortable. Every time people use these devices, they transmit valuable data about themselves, such as their interests, their likes, and their locations.
Those retailers who see the use of mobile devices to be anti-social are playing from a very old rule book. Perhaps they have been soured on the idea after watching sales associates demonstrate poor sales skills through lack of eye contact, or maybe they have experienced the frustration of standing in line while a clerk takes a call on the phone. But using a mobile device is not like talking on the phone, and that’s what they need to recognize. Somewhere within the online mobile connection lies the heart and the soul of the transaction. Without it customers become detached from their surroundings, and the contact is truly broken.
What these old-school merchants need to see is that the goal of the game remains the same as it ever was: to connect with the customer on an intimate level, to demonstrate understanding and relevance, and to build a relationship that leads to repeat business. But now, the formula requires three parts: customer, associate, and mobile.
To learn more about the impact of mobile on the connected in-store experience, including how to provide a personalized omnichannel shopping experience, download our webcast recording, Why Mobile is the Answer to a Connected Customer Experience.