Physical and Digital Customer Experience Today and How to Optimize for Tomorrow
The intersection of digital and physical experiences seemed novel just a few years ago. Today, phygital interactions are less about novelty and more about meeting customers’ baseline expectations in the most seamless way possible. Lenati was interviewed for a recent report by Forrester Research, which digs into some of the best “Bits and Mortar” experiences available today, highlighting not only how central phygital experiences have already become, but also some ways that forward-looking companies can set themselves up for success as they continue to develop new digital-physical interactions.
Optimized Journeys, Better Experiences
Most consumers leverage digital resources continuously, without even thinking about it. They do this through whatever resources are available, be it a mobile-optimized website, an app, or just a hack of their own devising. This means it’s up to savvy companies to uncover the hacks and work-arounds consumers are using along their journey and develop the right capabilities to 1) eliminate pain, 2) give customers control, and 3) anticipate their needs.
Eliminating customer pain is about cutting away challenges and leaving only the good stuff. Forrester’s report found five key ways companies are reducing the ouch-factor in transactions:
- Automate repetitive or mundane tasks (Lenati client Starbucks allows customers to pre-order through their app)
- Eliminate outdated steps (JetBlue has established auto check-in for e-ticket customers)
- Focus on experience high-points (Disney Parks Magic Bands and MyMagic+ technology allows people to forget about tickets and payment, minimize line waits, and focus on the fun)
- Increase transparency (Delta Airline’s baggage tracker lets customers watch their luggage make its way through the system, so they always know where it is and when it’s arriving)
- Introduce new experience models (Audi’s city showroom in London gives customers digital tools to configure, explore and buy vehicles, resulting in 70% of sales occurring without test drives)
Giving consumers control is about providing more information and allowing consumers to act on it. Forrester identifies four ways companies are handing over the power:
- Expand choice (Lenati client Hilton allows customers to choose their room through their app, providing full layout and amenities details)
- Enable self-service (Chilli’s customers use Ziosk tablets to browse, order, and pay for food)
- Help customers take immediate action (UPS MyChoice lets consumers re-route in-transit packages as needed)
- Extend customer’s reach (Neiman Marcus lets customers text associates whenever, wherever)
Anticipating customer needs is a way of showing you know them – and care. Forrester uncovered three ways companies are staying one-step ahead:
- Individualize interactions (Panera’s kiosks remember and re-suggest your recent orders)
- Bring employees up to speed fast (Tesco-owned coffee chain Harris + Hoole uses opt-in identity recognition technology to allow baristas to greet customers by name – and offer “your usual” no matter which location you visit)
- Take proactive steps on behalf of the customer (Taco Bell’s pre-order app uses geofencing to identify when a customer is close to the restaurant so the order will be ready at precisely the right moment).
Experimentation and Agility
The test-and-learn is an essential component of all digital-physical experiences. Much like a minimum-viable-product (MVP) in the start-up world, the test-and-learn approach to new customer experiences gives companies an opportunity to pressure-test new systems, measure results, and gauge reactions before broadly rolling-out new features. Forrester’s report acknowledges how early-stage most companies bits and mortar integration really is, and identifies five key ways to successfully get phygital, through experimentation and agility:
- Get out and try new experiences yourself. It’s important to get out in the real-world and find out what the customer is really going through.
- Frame the experience in human terms, not technology. Think from the customer’s perspective.
- Clarify internal expectations and goals. Align around timeframes, KPI’s, and target ROI.
- Keep your ear to the ground. Set up strong customer support and feedback loops for your test-and-learn environment so you really know customer reactions.
- Don’t underestimate technical and operational challenges. Identify system risks and a management plan – do you have a digital marketing platform, a customer database, a content-management system, in-store wifi that operates at industrial speeds, integrated web and physical POS and inventory systems? If not, you may have your work cut out for you.
As customers get more digitally connected, the world of bits and mortar will continue to grow. Customer Experience leaders are already leveraging phygital to smooth the customer journey and generate growth. For companies seeking to get on board, it’s time to be agile even while developing operational readiness for full digital-physical alignment.
To start, try mapping the customer journey to align management and ops around the customer. You’ll likely find opportunities to ease pain, give increased control, and act on anticipated customer needs through digital-physical integration.