What will change in the next ten years? We often try to identify and assess what changes will occur in the long term in order to establish a solid business strategy. However, as Jeff Bezos says, the question is not knowing what will change in the coming years, but knowing what will remain constant in order to focus all our efforts on it.
A small trip through the recent history of retail, can give us the key. We have gone from the grocery stores of the 70s, with scarce references and product categories but great knowledge and customer treatment, discount supermarkets of the 80s. After the massive purchase of hypermarkets in the 90s and finally , to electronic commerce. The two main constants in all this time were the massive self-service and the dehumanization of the purchasing process. Will these remain the keys of the 21st century?
Self-service continues to grow under the continuous pressure of greater efficiency. However, the humanization in the purchase has ceased to be the great sacrifice, to become the differential element of the customer experience. The big keys are, and will continue to be in the next 10 years, self-service and humanization. The companies will continue to charge the customer with the responsibility of the purchase to maximize their efficiency, providing in return an immediate and convenient self-service. But above all, human and personalized.
The big question is how can we increase efficiency if we are obliged to be more human with the client? The answer is phy-gital and its four principles; the physical world is an extension of digital, technology offers a human touch in the relationship with the client, its history always goes with it, and personalization is present in all interactions.
The world phy-gital It is a reality and many have been developing this concept for a long time. The just walk out of Amazon Go is a clear example of the humanization of shopping in offline supermarkets thanks to technology. A humanization based on making the customer experience something natural, easy, intuitive and personalized. You just go to the store, you take what you want to take with you and you leave, just like that. Amazon Go identifies the client by reading a QR code generated by the app, registers the chosen products through a complex system of cameras and sensors with computer vision Y deep learning (a subset of artificial intelligence), and load the amount of the purchase in the client's Amazon account; without scanning the items, or going through the box.
Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in China, thanks to facial recognition and artificial intelligence, identify the customer, recommend products ad hoc, according to characteristics and history, they manage your order and authorize payment. Also they digital testers by Rebecca Minkoff they merge with the physical world interacting with the shop assistants and the selections of the customers since they enter through the shop door.
In Spain companies such as Lucecem integrate the history of loyalty programs and off-line purchases with on-line navigation, to offer at all times the most appropriate product and a close and memorable experience in food distribution or hotels. Even the sometimes cold world of contact center, now it can also be much more human thanks to another Spanish company. Insight Solutions has developed the Tinder of telephone attention, the so-called agent matching, which not only identifies the most suitable product or service to each customer that calls, but also assigns the operator available with the greatest affinity to their profile and history.
The opportunities are many and we can all work to develop a massive, convenient and human self-service. However, we must never forget that customers do not buy technologies, they only buy experiences.
Jorge Martínez-Arroyo is president of DEC -Association for the Development of the Customer Experience-