The rapid pace of digital change has put companies in the unenviable position of trying to decide which tech trends to invest in and when. All too often, much-touted “revolutionary” innovations offer only incremental benefits at best; at worst, they are a costly distraction. The right technologies, however, can be incredibly valuable, driving customer satisfaction and possibly even providing a sustainable competitive advantage.
So how will you recognize a true digital differentiator when you see it? Generally, it will do one or more of the following: eliminate customer pain points, elevate customer service, or create a differentiated, personalized customer experience. Let’s take a closer look at each.
What are your customer’s biggest pain points? Start by identifying those, and then use digital technology to alleviate them. Marriott, for example, uses digital technology to streamline the hotel experience for its consumers, particularly its high-value business travelers. These guests are pressed for time; they often arrive late at night and check out first thing in the morning.
Marriott’s mobile check-in and check-out allows guests to bypass reception. Keyless room entry through mobile devices and bill payment via Apple Pay further reduce the friction associated with a traditional hotel experience. What’s more, guests can seamlessly request other services (e.g., car service, extra pillows) through their mobile devices up to 72 hours prior to check-in, skipping the concierge. For guests who have time, they can also book services such as spa treatments or chat with hotel staff to get help with dinner reservations.
In the online realm, Amazon’s experiment with its Echo wireless speaker technology – also known as Alexa – has the potential to turn the cumbersome online checkout process on its head. Forget one-click ordering – Alexa could be at the vanguard of No-click voice-ordering, radically streamlining the online purchase process.
The second lever is to use digital technology to materially improve customer service. How this is applied will vary by retailer. In the end, however, the introduction of technology should enable better delivery of the core components of your brand promise.
Kroger has aligned its entire business around a “Customer 1st” brand strategy. Successfully delivering on this involves many things, one of which is the core experience of checking out. To improve this mundane, (often) time-consuming and (potentially) frustrating aspect of the shopping experience, Kroger rolled out sensor technology to track store traffic.