From the perspective of a creative, it’s obvious that you want to be on the cutting edge. You’re aiming to capture the eyes of your clients and their audiences by being on top of the latest trends, and implementing the latest technology is what gets you there. But for anyone conducting business, the customer comes first. So when it comes to an expensive new interactive tool, the question shouldn’t be if it’s on-trend; the question should be whether the interactive technology will actually engage the customer in a meaningful way.
The good news is–customers prefer interactive technology. Interactive technology has evolved as a way to meet the age-old customer desire to be entertained and engaged while having their needs met quickly and at their level of comfort.
Let’s take a look at a few reasons that interactive experiences aren’t just another solution looking for a problem, but the preferred method for interactions with customers–from the customer’s perspective. Doing this will help you better understand what separates an effective use of interactive technology from one that’s being done just for show.
Customers Keep Interaction Where They Want It
Sometimes when shoppers visit a retailer they’re looking for someone to help guide them through the buying process. Other times, they want to get in and out quickly, with no upsell and no conversation. Interactive technologies like touch-screen ordering kiosks and others that facilitate a more streamlined sales process allow customers to choose how much interaction they want to do with store staff, and how much they’re comfortable doing on their own. Interactive technologies that put the browsing and buying processes in the hands of the shopper make customers more likely to have the in-store experience they’re looking for–whatever that experience is.
Customers Can Get Physical with Products
In the past decade, e-commerce has gone from an occasional indulgence for some to a primary means of purchasing for many. But people still enjoy visiting stores–they just need retailers to make their trips worthwhile. Interactive technology is one big factor that can bring value beyond just getting the product to a shopping experience.
The type of value that interactive technology brings varies, of course, by the product being sold and the technology being implemented. For stores using cutting-edge interactive technologies like augmented reality (AR) to extend the in-store experience, customers can see how large products like appliances that aren’t currently in stock would look in a particular room by superimposing them over it through an AR viewer.
In other instances, the interactive technology can make for a more fun and memorable way to interact with an otherwise traditional brand. Touch-screen dispensers, next-gen vending machines, and the like can turn buying soda, coffee, and even apparel from a humdrum experience buying necessities into an exciting, futuristic experience.
Customers Can Get an Informational Add-On
The internet has gotten us used to having information about everything available at the click of a mouse–and with interactive technology that doesn’t stop when customers leave their houses or look away from their smartphones.
Customers like to be able to have access to pertinent information while in-store, and businesses can use interactivity to either deliver the right information to shoppers’ personal devices or make it easier for them to access exactly what they need to know through in-store kiosks that feature interactive informational materials targeted toward specific products.
While a customer can always use Google to find out about a product, in-store interactive technology can make sure they’re looking at exactly the information they need in a way that relates directly to the product they’re looking at.
Customers Can Experience Even Better Customer Service
When we’re talking about technology, there’s always the question of how it will impact customer service. But many of the technological innovations that startups and incubators have been working with aim toward improving the customer experience both for customers and employees.
Interactive technology–whether it’s touch-screen kiosks or robots rolling around the sales floor–that can answer basic questions using AI about in-store product location and basic features can ideally free up staff to act as trusted advisors to customers. Without getting pulled away to handle the little stuff, customer service professionals can provide guidance and advice, and have the type of truly human interactions customers are looking for.
So as we see more interactive technology moving into businesses and retailers with all different target demographics, note that it’s not just the technology itself that customers prefer using. When implemented correctly, interactive technology makes the person-to-person experience better. Keep that in mind when you pursue an implementation, and you’ll give customers what they’re looking for–from the technology, and from the brand.