October 18, 2016

Enhance customer interactions through knowledge and inspiration

Marie-Louise Forsberg

Head of Retail and Services, Sweden, Tieto

The other week I visited a store in the city that has really tried to use digital solutions to give me as the consumer the feeling getting full insight into anything that might be relevant to my buying process.

With an advanced touch screen, I could choose product, size, colour and other details that matched my preferences. But when everything was selected, I received the message that the product wasn’t in stock. Instead I was referred to another store in the same chain, or ordering it online. However, the sales staff couldn’t give me a definite answer since a product’s availability was not based on real-time information but only updated overnight. I chose to go to a completely different store. I wanted my jacket here and now – not if, perhaps, maybe it would come within 5-10 business days.

This is a classic example of a poor connection between the so-called back- and front-end systems. The store gives the impression it can give me what I want, but can’t live up to the expectations that are created – either when it comes to information or delivery.

It’s the same with all the digital footprints we leave behind through card purchases and memberships in customer loyalty programs offered by store chains ranging from groceries to sporting goods to children’s clothing. For decades we have uploaded our profiles, needs and preferences to different companies and clicked ”YES” to confirm we agree to their use. As consumers we expect companies to do something smart with the information they have collected. Something that simplifies our purchases or provides us with interesting personal offers – not just promotional flyers with sales prices. That is not personal. 

The New Gold

It’s about doing your homework and having the ability to sift through the massive pile of big data to find the new gold – smart data – in a responsible way. Those who can’t stay on the right side of the ultrathin line between unique customer experience and violation of personal integrity risks ruining the confidence in their brand. But we have to start by testing and learning. There is no fast lane.

The brand is more important than ever and that means staff members need the proper tool box that enables them to be relevant and enhance the customer interaction with the right service and inspiration that is in line with the customer’s expectations. 

The tool box includes smart solutions that put the customer interaction in focus and meet the customer’s needs in real time in the best possible way. Digitalization and mobility have given the concept of customer power a completely new dimension.

Brand strength, inspiration and the ability to keep promises to customers will become key criteria when the modern consumer decides which companies will be granted their own royal warrants, whether it is for designer goods, food or experiences.

You are welcome to stop by and see us at StrategiTorget Retail, October 25–26, at Yasuragi Hasseludden in Nacka, and give us your input on this interesting topic.



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