Customer service no longer takes place entirely in person, between an eager-to-help sales associate and curious shopper. The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets has transformed these devices into the best kind of middlemen for retailers and customers – the kind that are always accessible, convenient and chock-full of knowledge.
The rapidly evolving mobile landscape has given way to a series of innovations that businesses are leveraging to offer the utmost high-touch customer service, even for individuals not in brick-and-mortar stores. Brands including Barneys New York, Marriott International and Wine.com are foraying into using beacon technology, mobile request platforms and live expert chat, respectively, to win the favor of their mobile customers and anticipate their questions even before they ask them.
Personalized shopping: While beacon technology is arguably a relevant tactic to explore for any major retailer, brands in the luxury sector can especially benefit from its implementation. High-end shoppers require precision and personalization in their interactions with sales folk, prompting retailers such as Barneys New York to utilize valuable consumer data gleaned from beacons in order to maximize customization. Barneys recently integrated beacons into its New York flagship store, a move that will enable the marketer to send personalized product recommendations sourced from its editorial site straight to individuals’ smartphones.
Perhaps most importantly, the company can tap into customers’ previous shopping behavior and more accurately link online and offline purchases. This would allow Barneys to potentially anticipate shoppers’ desired products before they ask a sales associate for help, based on what they have bought in the past or which brands they tend to gravitate toward. Not only does this make in-store employees’ jobs easier, but customers will rest assured knowing that their device has the ability to act as a personal stylist, all without them manually inputting personal information or product preferences.
Virtual requests: Several hospitality brands, with Marriott leading the fray, have introduced mobile request platforms for loyalty program members. Travelers no longer need to fear being placed on hold by their hotel’s front desk if they want to switch rooms or ask for special amenities and services. Instead, marketers like Marriott are rolling out high-touch customer service by letting guests submit room requests via a drop-down menu in the hotel app, or speak with a representative about an inquiry. Consequently, if someone wants to ask for additional pillows in his or her room, no face-to-face interaction with an on-site employee is needed. He or she can simply input that request with a few taps of a finger, regardless of whether he is en route to the hotel, or already sitting in the room.
Expert commentary: Brands in sectors containing highly-specific products – such as wine – have the luxury of integrating live chat platforms within their apps or mobile sites. Wine.com has taken this strategy one cork further by employing sommeliers to field mobile shoppers’ questions. While many consumers would likely feel comfortable discussing their choices with a brand representative, the bonus of having an expert in the field readily available, regardless of the day or time, is undoubtedly a big draw for wine connoisseurs. This kind of expert advice could be the very push that a customer needs in order to make a purchase, particularly if it is meant for a special occasion.
Live chat platforms are becoming a must-have mobile feature for any retailer wanting to connect with a core audience in a way that feels highly personalized and human, despite the lack of face-to-face communication.
Ultimately, mobile’s omnipresence has helped the retail industry, even if sales are now flowing from a variety of channels rather than solely bricks-and-mortar locations. It is up to businesses to discover how best to leverage personal devices to deliver high-quality, high-touch experiences that make consumers willing to relinquish personal data and open their wallets more – all in exchange for a customized shopping experience.
View our pre-recorded webinar and learn how retailer Steven Alan plans to offer high-touch customer service via a mobile-first strategy. Register here for Why Mobile is the Answer to a Connected Customer Experience.