Today's customers require compelling stimuli from brands

By Stephanie Van Ness


Creating an effective customer experience today means saturating the digital and physical realms with consistent branded content.

There is no longer such a thing as a captive audience. The numerous developments in consumer technology over the past few years have all but ensured that people are always able to find what they want to buy. This puts pressure on retailers to create a customer experience that is compelling at all stages. Even one weak link in the chain could cause shoppers to wander away. This applies to the new battlefields of customer capture - online marketing and social media - but also holds true in stores. Making the sale is based on both the strength of branding and its consistency.

"The digital revolution has given companies the tools they need."

The customer's journey fragments
The image of the sales journey that companies have relied on - with a smooth path from discovery to purchase - is now inaccurate. According to Business 2 Community contributor Miriam Hara, there is a growing recognition that brands need to represent themselves on just about every channel available to the consumer. Individuals are self-guided, and if they sense that there is a better way to find or buy a product available, they will take it without hesitation. Hara explained that today's organizations need to not only stretch themselves between many different digital platforms, but also ensure all their efforts are synergistic and consistent.

What kind of traits are retailers dealing with in today's young shoppers? Hara explained that from shortened attention spans to a reduced feeling of purchase pressure, there are numerous factors that could easily derail a path to purchase. She specified that there is now a need to keep things consistent, from the first Web search to the customer service that buyers receive directly from business representatives. Becoming this type of synergistic and connected business may test retailers' abilities. Fortunately, the digital revolution has given these companies the tools they need to cope with the evolving demands they are encountering.

Customers today are looking for businesses to create retail environments that meet very specific and recently developed needs.

In-person resources
While leaders may worry that their in-person customer service and experience can't match up with expectations when shoppers begin their journeys online, tech solutions such as touchscreen customer kiosks can help make the connection. These devices can carry the same assets present on the store or brand's Web pages and create a continuation of the shopping experience.

Buyers who are ready to see merchandise in person but don't yet want to engage with store personnel can use these kiosks in a self-guided fashion, answering any lingering questions and retaining the autonomy they feel when shopping online. With software that keeps the tactile experience of using the kiosks fast and responsive, customers will feel comfortable learning what they need to know.

Service provided by sales professionals can be empowered through the same software used for consumers. Kiosk software that works on smaller screens can be applied to staff tablets and carried along as an informational resource. This means consumers will experience the same informational assets from their first encounter with the business's website to when they are speaking with salespeople about the details of a purchase. In a fragmented retail world, this ensures that companies can create a cohesive environment that extends across media and platforms.

Stephanie Van Ness

Assoc. Director of Marketing and Chief Storyteller at ICS, Boston UX and ViewPoint Interactive Solutions

An experienced copywriter with a Boston University J-school degree, Stephanie Van Ness writes about user experience (UX) design and innovations in technology, from self-driving vehicles to gesture-controlled medical devices. Her work has appeared in a number of industry publications, including Medical Design & Outsourcing, Mass Device, Connected World,Medical Device + Diagnostics, UX Collective and Prototypr.