Even retailers who have the latest and greatest kiosks, digital signs and mobile devices deployed, and a strong social media presence will fail to engage their customers if they forget to empathize with shoppers, said Brian Solis in today's keynote speech at Customer Engagement Technology World in San Francisco. He believes that many retailers get too obsessed with implementing the latest technology and end up with a strategy that has no direction and drives customers away, an outcome that he calls screen burn.
"It's like an abandoned shopping cart; you didn't connect," he said.
Instead, retailers should put people before the technology and really think about who they are trying to reach and how. Solis urged retailers to find out what customers expect, the challenges they face, how they connect and communicate, and the journey they take to make decisions. Before spending thousands of dollars on new technology, retailers need to know their customers, and most don't, according to a 2011 study Solis conducted. His staff asked brand managers and marketers if they had a clear picture of their Social Consumer; 77 percent said yes. When the study asked them, however, whether they asked Social Consumers what they expected from engagement, more than half (53 percent) said, "No."
"This is intriguing because we have 77 percent of organizations who say they know what their Social Consumers want, but 53 percent haven't really asked. They do not—cannot—really know how to deliver value in social and mobile networks," he said.
To break through all the noise and connect with consumers, retailers must first articulate and design what they want the user experience to emulate or evoke; only then can they implement the technology or strategy to create that experience.
Solis calls this the A.R.T. of Engagement, where Actions, Reactions, and Transactions become the fabric of connected experiences.
"What is your mission, vision and purpose for your task? What is it that you want people to walk away with," Solis said. "I believe without that definition it's not worthy even spending a moment (on) and more importantly it's not worthy of me sharing it with the people I'm connected to, and therefore it's not connect-worthy at all."
Were you there for the keynote speech? What did you think?
Cherryh Butler has been a reporter for nearly 10 years, writing on a variety of topics ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining FastCasual.com as editor, she oversaw KioskMarketplace.com and PizzaMarketplace.com and contributed to RetailCustomerExperience.com. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.