Let’s face it. Retailers and brands have a problem. And that problem is the need to engage with customers in a meaningful way. Working with both types of businesses, Conversity has learned first-hand what they are trying to achieve – real time relevant personal service, both in-store and online. This is sometimes couched in “we need to build a better customer experience” to “we need to better understand our customers”, but it is always about the connection with the consumer. And despite increased investments and tons of consumer data, brands and retailers are truly losing that connection.
Just think about the in-store experience. Now that we have gone through one of the most turbulent times in recent memory, customers are just not chomping at the bit to come back to stores. Some are not coming back because they have gotten accustomed to ordering online, while others have security and safety concerns. And even if they do come back, they are going to expect it to be a real experience. Something better than it was before. The bar has been raised. Their time and their safety require it. As customers come back, they are likely going to see fewer employees in the stores. Either because of employment issues or budget constraints. And the team members that are there may or may not know much about the specific product or service that a customer is interested in. To add insult to injury, many companies have reduced the on-boarding and training investment they are making in these in-store team members. When there is more pressure than ever to get the in-store experience right, a number of retailers have cut back and are going in the opposite direction.
Now just think about the online experience. It’s not even as good as the in-store experience. You can’t talk to anyone. Most websites are just a catalogue of products on the internet. It’s so impersonal, just rows and rows of products, pics, prices, and specs. And the navigation tools that many companies have deployed are great, if you know what you are looking for. And many times, we just don’t. And even when we do, comparing options can be overwhelming. Analysis paralysis sets in and you get visitors clicking away looking for something better or, worse yet, they actually choose a purchase, but give up and abandon the cart.
Customers are expecting more both in-store and online. That much is clear. The question is what can you do about it? With the unprecedented growth taking place in e-commerce, a number of progressive brands are focused on optimizing their online experience. There are two technologies that represent a way to do just that.
The first is VIBA, which stands for virtual interactive brand ambassador. VIBA, created by T-ROC, helps brands to provide a virtual sales experience on their websites. It allows a customer to choose to speak to an agent during their time on a website. That agent can be a member of a brand’s contact center team, a team member in one of the stores, a virtual agent, or a third-party agent that can even be hired for this purpose. With the simple click of a button or scan of a QR code, customers can be routed right to this person virtually to have a live interaction where the agent can share content, stream videos, and answer questions. This creates a degree of buying confidence that neither simple bots nor the current online experience can replicate.
The other solution is IGS, which stands for intelligent guided selling. IGS is a software-as-a-service solution that embeds on a brand’s website to engage visitors to ask them dynamic questions about who they are, what motivated them to come to the website, and what their interests and budgets are, so an effective recommendation can be made. This approach helps brands better understand the customers who are on their website while also materially increasing online conversion, session duration, and average transaction values.
The most powerful approach to building customer connection is the integration of these two technologies, either IGS that produces a VIBA experience or VIBA that produces an IGS experience.
IGS -> VIBA
Imagine a customer on your website going through a dynamic journey through an intelligent guided selling platform. In other words, the customer lands on your site and begins answering those questions that establish their motivations, interests, and budget. They complete the journey and several optimal recommendations are now presented to them. This is the Conversity Connect experience. But they still don’t know what to buy. The need to ask one more question. Or maybe they want to co-browse with a brand agent. They just need to make absolutely certain. Right next to the recommendations is a button or a QR code that when actioned immediately route the customer to a virtual sales experience where a representative for your business appears. They are there to provide that final assurance so the customer can add to cart and complete the transaction. This representative could be a member of your contact center team, a person in one of your stores, or they could even be a virtual bot trained to answer up to 100 pre-defined questions before routing the customer to a live agent. The VIBA virtual sales experience creates a one-on-one interface that allows your brand representative to speak to the customer, to share content, or even stream video. VIBA takes all of the risk off the table and provides customers with a reassuring interaction that provides that human connection online.
VIBA -> IGS
Now imagine that customer has chosen a virtual sales experience. They want to talk to a representative from the brand. This is a make-or-break interaction. VIBA is the perfect solution. It is important to effectively answer all of the customer’s questions and close the sale. How reassuring that the sales representative can use a guided sales enablement tool to walk through all of the appropriate qualification and discovery questions required to make the perfect recommendation? This is where IGS makes VIBA even more effective. We refer to this use case as Conversity Charm; guided selling where an agent assists the customer with dynamic question sets to arrive at the best fit for both product and price point.
Competition among brands looking to optimize their e-commerce is increasing at a rapid pace. Putting the customer at the center of it all will be the key differentiator. VIBA and IGS are unique sales enablement tools that brands and retailers should be considering to create a compelling customer experience and give customers the confidence to buy and the satisfaction to come back again for their next purchase.