Customer excellence: welcome to the age of bespoke shopping experiences

Chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) and live chat solutions are helping retailers take their customer experience to the next level.
By
Brad Wing
August 13, 2019

Convenience vs Experience Shopping

Shopping journeys can be divided into two main categories: those focused on convenience and those centered around experience.

First up is convenience shopping, which involves mundane, low-value purchases to which we give little thought – think of stuff like buying your weekly groceries, replenishing your pharmacy supplies and stocking up on garbage bags when you run out. This isn’t the fun shopping you do when you’re looking for retail therapy, this category is all about day-to-day necessities, and it accounts for about 90% of our purchases.

At Heyday, we know that nobody wants to spend more time than they absolutely need to choosing toothpaste, and we love to leverage technology to help ease the burden and boredom of utility shopping. People’s disdain for boring browsing is why ecommerce and game-changing Amazon are so popular. By streamlining the buying process, they’re crunching down the amount of time spent on something that feels like a chore and making more room for fun.

Speaking of fun, this is where experience shopping comes in. The flipside of convenience is all about an individual’s enjoyment and wants over needs. This section accounts for less than 10% of our purchases, and includes all sorts of items, from the electric car you dream of driving to the two-in-one barbecue and smoker you’ve been dreaming about for your backyard. When it comes to these more financially and emotionally driven purchases, people like to engage with product experts and real people.

These journeys are more of an experience than just routine, as if we want to share the moment with someone when looking to buy a high-value item. Traditionally, people have gone to stores to talk to individuals when making these larger purchases, because it’s a high-involvement purchase during which you might need assistance, and it feels like there’s more at stake.

If you run a convenience business, odds are you’re getting eaten alive by the likes of Amazon and other behemoth ecommerce sites. However, if you’re in the experience sector, your competition is actually smaller local shops that curate hands-on shopping journeys for their clientele. Stop for a minute and think about what would happen if you could mix the convenience and efficiency of online shopping with the exclusive experience of brick-and-mortar stores. Now that’s a winning combo.

Customer Excellence

As consumers, we have a firmly set mental divide between convenience and experience shopping. We associate the former with the efficiency of technology and automation, but accept the impersonal nature of the transaction as the price to pay for this convenience. Then, on the flipside, when we think about experiential shopping, we’ve come to expect a tailored V.I.P. service that’s not only about buying an object, but is rather an immersive experience that’s about engaging with a brand on a more meaningful level.

Heyday’s goal is for all shopping to feel personalized and pampering, and we believe the latest breakthroughs in conversational software and AI will be the vehicle to bring about this new age of bespoke customer experiences. We like to call this time the era of Customer Excellence, and it earns its name by housing convenience and experience under a single roof.


What Goes into Creating Customer Excellence?

Availability

With the disappearance of physical stores and companies moving to the web to find their customers where they are, business hours have become irrelevant. Leaving the old open/closed sign behind also means that people expect you to be available 24/7, 365 days a year, digital rain or shine. Within this model, users are calling the shots, and if they want to be able to get their hands on designer lipstick at 3 a.m., you best be ready to jump on that.

Constant availability is its own form of luxury, it’s the level of dedication and service only a personal butler could deliver. Thanks to chatbots and AI automation, it’s now possible for brands to deliver this kind of V.I.P. treatment at scale.

Memory

One of the most crucial parts of building your online brand is having data and the memory that will come from it. Collecting data and feeding it to your chatbot to memorize will allow your AI assistant to bring it back up at exactly the right moment to tailor a relevant experience for every customer in milliseconds, making the shopping experience seamless. How many times have you filled out an online form, say for booking a test drive, only to end up having to answer the exact same questions two days later at the dealership?

This example is the epitome of a bad customer experience from an organization that works in silos. What’s the point of collecting all that data if you never use it? When striving for real customer excellence and intelligence, data should flow smoothly throughout the organization and you should leverage memory to deliver unprecedented personalization and consistency in the user experience.

Anticipation

In this high-expectation consumer environment, it’s no longer enough to just meet someone’s needs. Now, brands have to be able to anticipate needs with suggestions and offerings that are personalized to shoppers.

Again, data is going to be your knight in shining armour here, providing the much-needed intel to always be one step ahead of the marketing game. The greatest product innovators and marketers of our generation – like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs before him – have this innate knack for not only answering customers needs but anticipating and creating new ones. These once-in-a-generation visionaries have a unique ability. But with data, this ability to foresee demand will become increasingly democratized.

Curation

One of the main tasks of chatbots like ours is to quickly sift through thousands of product options in the blink of an eye to present users with just a few that are relevant to what they’re looking for. Think of the chatbot like an instant sieve that filters out the noise and does all the pesky browsing for you. Heyday’s chatbot will be integrated with your online store’s product feeds, knowing everything you have to offer at all times, and also what each person has browsed for or purchased in the past. When it comes to shopping in the modern world, the more you know the better, and the more data our chatbots have, the better they’ll be at tailoring experiences to every shopper’s wants and needs.

Integration

For users, it’s really about the entire omnichannel shopping experience, and the savviest brands know to stay flexible between platforms, regardless of where the point of contact with the shopper was first made.

If high-end Chanel and speed-of-light efficient Amazon had a baby, it would be customer excellence.

This concept doesn’t distinguish between online and offline, but rather takes for granted that the new customer always has at least one foot in the digital world. Rather than seeing the two shopping experiences as opposing forces fighting each other, you should understand how they complement and build upon each other to deliver increased convenience and experience, as demonstrated by the click-and-collect model in which shoppers select items online and pick them up, ready to go, at a store or collection point.

Enabling Personalization at Scale with Chatbots and Conversational AI

Chatbots, also known as virtual shopping assistants, are the single most valuable tool for ecommerce brands looking to step up their sales game by offering a solid mix of convenience and experience.

Heyday is positioned to tackle convenience with chatbots that can provide lightning-fast responses at any time of day, since they won’t be taking family vacations or going for long business lunches. These bots will ease stress by tracking orders, guiding consumers in self-service and immediately answering frequently asked questions, from ones about shipping costs to business hours.

When it comes to experience, our chatbots will really show you what they can do by engaging in AI-powered one-on-one conversations. These interactions then lead to personalized, on-demand product recommendations or put users in immediate contact with an available person if the situation calls for a human touch. Now, all brands can offer everyone an experience that was once exclusive to luxury brands.

In our current shopping world, it’s not enough to pick either convenience or experience. These categories should be seen as two sides of the same coin rather than opposing forces, much like how automation and people are now working seamlessly together to offer the personalized and intelligent shopping experiences that will bring customers back for more.

Though it requires the right thinking from the get-go, pioneering Customer Excellence and making your brand irreplaceable in its category, untouchable by Amazon and hip specialized shops alike, is well within your reach. Though it won’t be done in a day, taking the time to create a direct conversation with your customers will pave the way to sustainability. Then, just short of rolling out the red carpet, your V.I.P. treatment is complete.

Contact us for a free consultation session so that we can help you achieve Customer Excellence.