Exceptional customer service is not optional for today’s businesses. In order to succeed, customer experience must be a top priority. "Innovation is the watchword of the digital age. For decades, the focus has been on product innovation, with software, electronics and consumer products generating billions of dollars of value. Today, however, product innovations are often incremental and fleeting, with competitors quickly matching or surpassing most improvements. At the same time, social media prompts consumers to quickly switch allegiances with attractive new offers." Johannes Groenewald, General Manager: Demand Factory, Tarsus Distribution
If the product is no longer the hero, what is driving differentiation and growth? The answer lies in customer experience.
Eighty percent of customers today saythat the experiences companies provide are as important as their products or services, and customers are 2.7 times more likely to continue doing business with a company that provides high-quality service.
It is no coincidence therefore that the most innovative brands in the world are also leading the way in customer experience. Brands like Apple, Disney, Amazon and Zappos are front of mind during conversations about memorable customer experiences. Few companies in our digital era are as synonymous with the concept of great customer service as Zappos. That’s because the company sees customers as people first.
Because customer priorities are constantly changing, successful companies continually innovate to stay ahead of the competition and provide excellent, relevant experiences for customers.
An antidote to mass haircare
American haircare brand Prose is one example of how the beauty industry is turning toward individualisation. The company decided that customer segmentation was not working, because it was trying to put people in a box. In 2020, Prose implemented an automated fulfilment technology, which lets the company produce made-to-order products at scale while reducing environmental waste.
A proprietary algorithm uses 85 different factors to determine a blend of ingredients and creates a formula for customers that is 100 percent unique to each individual. With over 79 trillion different possible permutations, Prose has become one of the most personalised beauty brands in the world.
Trying on clothes virtually
Walmart recently launched Choose My Model, a virtual try-on tool powered by computer vision and artificial intelligence on the company’s website and app that allows shoppers to pick a person who resembles their height, shape and skin tone to show how clothes would look on them without having to go to a store. The aim is to provide a best-in-class shopping experience online and lead the way in the shopping of the future.
The Choose My Model tool aims to make customers more likely to click the “buy” button, especially on higher-priced items from an unfamiliar brand and could lead to a lower return rate.
Personalised AI-powered cooler doors
US pharmacy chain giant Walgreen’s refrigerator and freezer doors act as a digital merchandising platform that depicts the food and drinks inside in their best light, but also as an in-store billboard that can serve ads to consumers who approach, based on variables such as the approximate age the technology believes they are, their gender and the weather.
Cameras and sensors inside the coolers connected to face-detection technology can also determine which items shoppers picked up or looked at, giving advertisers insight into whether their on-screen promotions worked – and can let a retailer know quickly if a product has gone out of stock.
These are just some of the exciting ways that customer experience is evolving, driven by the critical need for better customer experiences as a brand differentiator, and the AI advancement to enable those experiences.