Maintaining customer engagement while waiting for personal assistance

Engagement

03/24/2015

Unfortunately, there's no way to ensure that every in-store patron looking for assistance will receive attention from your sales reps, especially during peak hours.

Unfortunately, there's no way to ensure that every in-store patron looking for assistance will receive attention from your sales reps, especially during peak hours. There are situations when an employee will be obligated to assist a customer for well over 15 minutes. Think about how many potential buyers enter your facility within that window on a Saturday afternoon. 

In a previous post, we discussed customer browsing behaviors and how interactive kiosks can draw in patrons with "self-help" proclivities. Now, we're going to focus on how the same technology can keep customers engaged while they're waiting to speak to a salesperson.

"Patrons experience excitement when faced with a crowded retail area."

What you need to know about the waiting game 
Fashion and Textiles and SpringerOpen Journal conducted a study discussing how people respond psychologically and emotionally to waiting for services in retail stores. The organizations discovered that when customers enter congested outlets, they assume that the facility's goods are in low supply. This incites a feeling of competition. In general, patrons experience a feeling of excitement when faced with a crowded retail area, meaning they're more sensitive to their surroundings.

Levels of emotion are manipulated by what the study's authors call fillers. According to their definition, a filler is an object or action that occupies a person during a wait time. There are two types of fillers: those that pertain to the shopping experience and those that do not. 

How an interactive kiosk can be more than a filler
A filler is essentially a device used to distract or occupy a customer. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there are ways to position such assets so they help guide patrons through the shopping experience.

crowd
When customers enter a crowded store, a sense of excitement is incited.

While the study primarily focuses on wait times as they apply to in-store checkout, let's reposition its findings and look at them from the perspective a patron who enters a crowded store and is waiting to speak with a representative. Suppose this customer is looking to purchase a winter jacket, but wants to ask a salesperson his or her opinion about several brand-name coats.

The first step is to direct him to the kiosk where he can conduct a comparison on his own. According to Ad Quadrant, using video or dynamic advertising is considered a best practice by Facebook's ad team. Essentially, moving images attract attention, so designing the kiosk to automatically switch between pictures or display information in a screen-saver like format isn't a bad idea.

"A kiosk can fulfill a service that customers want but may not be available."

Now that you have the customer engaged, it's important to allow him to search for the items he's interested in purchasing. The user experience should be intuitively guided by the kiosk, presenting the patron with information applicable to his interests. The user interface should be designed so that no distracting content diverts the customer from achieving his goal. 

Look at the big picture 
What the kiosk did was fulfill a service that the customer wanted but wasn't available at the time. While the kiosk was presented as a filler, its functions enabled the patron to complete a signature step in the shopping experience: He figured out what he wanted to buy. 

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