NRF 2019: In The Midst of Impressive Innovation, Don’t Forget The Basics

NRF 2019: In The Midst of Impressive Innovation, Don’t Forget The Basics

Retail’s Big Show was packed with innovative new technology and highlighted an impressive future of advancements in the industry, albeit reminding us of the importance of customer service.

yossi team photo

By YOSSI ABRAHAM

NRF 2019: Retail’s BIG Show was a spectacular showcase of impressive technology and innovation highlighting a bright future for innovation in retail industry. Over three days at the show, I saw captivating new technology on display. It all added up to a stunning example of the potential for retail technology to enhance customer experiences, but at the end of the show, I felt a critical piece was missing from the floor of the Javits Center.

There were smart shopping carts that track the items placed in them and have a built-in screen allowing customers to search for the location of items in the store. There was a powerful new optical recognition technology that can actively track how customers navigate a store and what they pick up off the shelves to help retailers improve the in-store experience. There was even new integrated self-checkout kiosks designed to run on the same system as the other registers in a store, allowing for better tracking for retailers and a better experience for customers. All of NRF seemed focused on getting customers to and through a sale as efficiently and strategically as possible, but there was much less emphasis about what happens next.

“All of NRF seemed focused on getting customers to and through a sale as efficiently and strategically as possible, but there was much less emphasis about what happens next.”

NRF 2019: In The Midst of Impressive Innovation, Don’t Forget The Basics

Don't Forget The Basics

While I was walking around the show floor in New York City my wife as back home dealing with just that. She hadn’t seen any in-store innovation. She never touched a physical shopping cart. My wife had made an online purchase more than two weeks before NRF 2019. Now she was still waiting for the item to be delivered.

Three days after her purchase was supposed to be delivered, nothing had arrived at our doorstep. The experience was disappointing and about to get worse. After looking for a way to submit a report and get some answers as to why her order still hadn’t arrived, my wife decided to call the retailer’s customer service line. She waited for an agent to pick up. She kept waiting. My wife waited 27 minutes for someone to answer her call and then gave up — a former customer lost to poor customer service.

NRF 2019: In The Midst of Impressive Innovation, Don’t Forget The Basics

Customer Service Is Critical

Improving capabilities and experiences in-store are important, but in the world of online shopping and customer-centric business, the post-purchase experience is just as vital to retailers’ success. The most efficient way of speeding up tedious customer service calls is to automate straight forward use cases and provide self-service options to avoid requiring a conversation with a live agent in the first place. A majority of customers try to use self-service before any other channel. Microsoft’s 2018 State of Global Customer Service report found a full two-thirds of customers look for self-service first. Our instant-gratification, on-demand society expects these capabilities to be easily available. Only more complex, nuanced, high-value customer service enquiries should require the expertise of live agents.

These are the customer satisfaction basics. Make it simple. Give consumers the answers they need as fast as possible, with as few hurdles as possible. When things get complex, make the interaction human, listening to customers and working towards finding the best solution for their needs. With the advent of flashy new technology and incredible advancements in in-store capabilities, retailers must remember to always get the basics right first, then focus on improving everything else.

NRF 2019: In The Midst of Impressive Innovation, Don’t Forget The Basics

Retail’s Big Show was packed with innovative new technology and highlighted an impressive future of advancements in the industry, albeit reminding us of the importance of customer service.

yossi team photo

By YOSSI ABRAHAM

NRF 2019: Retail’s BIG Show was a spectacular showcase of impressive technology and innovation highlighting a bright future for innovation in retail industry. Over three days at the show, I saw captivating new technology on display. It all added up to a stunning example of the potential for retail technology to enhance customer experiences, but at the end of the show, I felt a critical piece was missing from the floor of the Javits Center.

There were smart shopping carts that track the items placed in them and have a built-in screen allowing customers to search for the location of items in the store. There was a powerful new optical recognition technology that can actively track how customers navigate a store and what they pick up off the shelves to help retailers improve the in-store experience. There was even new integrated self-checkout kiosks designed to run on the same system as the other registers in a store, allowing for better tracking for retailers and a better experience for customers. All of NRF seemed focused on getting customers to and through a sale as efficiently and strategically as possible, but there was much less emphasis about what happens next.

“All of NRF seemed focused on getting customers to and through a sale as efficiently and strategically as possible, but there was much less emphasis about what happens next.”

NRF 2019: In The Midst of Impressive Innovation, Don’t Forget The Basics

Don't Forget The Basics

While I was walking around the show floor in New York City my wife as back home dealing with just that. She hadn’t seen any in-store innovation. She never touched a physical shopping cart. My wife had made an online purchase more than two weeks before NRF 2019. Now she was still waiting for the item to be delivered.

Three days after her purchase was supposed to be delivered, nothing had arrived at our doorstep. The experience was disappointing and about to get worse. After looking for a way to submit a report and get some answers as to why her order still hadn’t arrived, my wife decided to call the retailer’s customer service line. She waited for an agent to pick up. She kept waiting. My wife waited 27 minutes for someone to answer her call and then gave up — a former customer lost to poor customer service.

NRF 2019: In The Midst of Impressive Innovation, Don’t Forget The Basics

Customer Service Is Critical

Improving capabilities and experiences in-store are important, but in the world of online shopping and customer-centric business, the post-purchase experience is just as vital to retailers’ success. The most efficient way of speeding up tedious customer service calls is to automate straight forward use cases and provide self-service options to avoid requiring a conversation with a live agent in the first place. A majority of customers try to use self-service before any other channel. Microsoft’s 2018 State of Global Customer Service report found a full two-thirds of customers look for self-service first. Our instant-gratification, on-demand society expects these capabilities to be easily available. Only more complex, nuanced, high-value customer service enquiries should require the expertise of live agents.

These are the customer satisfaction basics. Make it simple. Give consumers the answers they need as fast as possible, with as few hurdles as possible. When things get complex, make the interaction human, listening to customers and working towards finding the best solution for their needs. With the advent of flashy new technology and incredible advancements in in-store capabilities, retailers must remember to always get the basics right first, then focus on improving everything else.

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