Well folks, here we are in 2015. We’re officially living in the future that Doc Brown and Marty McFly travelled to in Back to the Future II. Yet, even as our collective patience wanes in expectation of hoverboards, flying cars, and “Mr. Fusion,” the world edges closer to Utopia. Today, as we enter “the future,” systems are coming together that make the impossible possible.
Imagine, if you will, a day when companies and their customers help each other simply by going about business as usual. Thankfully, unlike Jaws 19, this vision of the future is real. Using a knowledge base housed in the cloud, companies are beginning to see just how powerful a little bit (or maybe a lot) of customer data can be. One way we can do this is by collecting data on a customer’s preferences through social channels like Facebook and Twitter. This way, we can head off support issues before they have a chance to arise.
Here’s an example of how this works: you’re a regular at a chain of coffee shops, and you recently mentioned on Pinterest that you send your drinks back about half the time because you prefer them hotter than most folks. The next time you go for coffee, the employees are automatically prompted to make sure your drink is extra hot. You never have to worry about the temperature of your coffee again, thanks to a system that adapted to your wants before you even thought to bring it up with the barista.
Customers who prefer an automated shopping experience can now save themselves the time and cost of shipping by picking up their merchandise at an in-store customer service counter. Increasingly, people are even electing to pick up their items at a store’s loading dock. Not only does this at-store pickup option let folks bypass the customer service line, it frees up your employees to help customers looking for assistance with their shopping. It also streamlines your business, allowing retail outlets to double as distribution centers.
By tracking online purchases, at-store pick-ups, and the decisions of the folks who prefer the more personal in-store shopping experience, you’ll know which items need restocking and where. That same tracking data can come in handy for your customers too. Simply by walking through your doors or visiting your website, the customers of the future announce their identity to you via their smartphones and IP addresses. If you’ve got any sales or special offers that their shopping history suggests they’d like to know about, you can send notifications to your staff or straight to the customers themselves.
This same personalized customer experience can also be shared on the phone or online. By identifying a customer’s likes the moment they reach out, you can pair them with a customer service representative who shares their same interests. By merging the customer’s personal data with your database of analytics and current trends, you’ll give your agents the power to forge closer connections and solve problems more efficiently.
Another place where it’s helpful to know a customer’s preferences is in the fitting room. Using RFID tags and a very cool in-room touchscreen, the Connected Fitting Room saves both customers and retailers time and effort. As a customer enters the fitting room, the items they bring with them are automatically catalogued. This data then pops up on the fitting room’s touchscreen mirror, allowing the customer to request a new size or color, or even a new item altogether. On your end, this means a clearer view of each of your customers and quicker responses to customer service issues you may not even have been aware of before.
Empowering customers to effortlessly solve problems on their own, to shop in their own way and at their own pace, and lending them a sympathetic ear when they ask for help certainly sounds like Utopia from a buyer’s perspective. Heck, they might even go beyond simply being customers and start acting as advocates for you and your company, and that’s good for everybody. To see how Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help create a better tomorrow for both you and your customers, click below.
The “future” might not be as far off as we think.