Become A Butler of the Future for Your Customers: Bridge the Gap Between Digital and Physical Experiences

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Become A Butler of the Future for Your Customers:
Bridge the Gap Between Digital and Physical Experiences

February 27, 2015

Recently, being the creative I am, I decided to tackle a do-it-yourself night table project (the result of that project is a whole different story and doesn’t end on the happiest note). On my way into Home Depot, I noticed a new addition to their front entrance – a pick up location for online orders. How convenient! This new area enables you to wrangle your children or dog in one hand and purchase new hardware for your entire kitchen using an online app in the other. Isn’t that perfect?

Had I known about this new way to shop at Home Depot, I could have quickly picked up my items and made up the time I already wasted pacing up and down the same two aisles at Target trying to find quinoa (I didn’t even know what quinoa was at first, but was told that it’s the only grain/non-grain I should eat right now) without a sales associate in sight.  While searching the shelves, an internal flood of questions began . . . Is it in the grain section? But wait, it’s not really a grain. Is it in a special section? Maybe organic foods? Is it even organic?!

Daily, we encounter hundreds of questions with decisions to make in seconds, and needing to physically go into a store and actually focus on those tasks is getting increasingly difficult. I could surf for information online at home; but, what good does that do me if I will still need to put forth the effort locating items when I arrive at the store? Thankfully, the gap between our physical and digital experiences is getting smaller each day.

Consider the Target scenario I described previously. I learned that Target actually has an app I can access on my phone that allows me to search my exact store location.  The app will guide me to the correct aisle where my items are located and indicate if the items are in stock.  The app has proven to be a real timesaver on my last few trips. And, to top it off, I can scan barcodes directly to my phone for a couple extra discounts with Target’s Cartwheel app.  (I’m all about the discount, so count me in.)

It is the responsibility of our industry to be one step ahead of the decisions customers need to make so they don’t have to think about it. When this is done correctly, a customer’s experience is fluid from mobile device to the moment the product enters their hands.

What if you were able to pick out a couple of dresses online, and the physical store location had them waiting at a dressing room for you to try on with your name and everything ready to go?  That type of forward thinking would allow you to try on a dinner date dress before your movie at 6 pm. What does this create? A loyal shopper who now has more time to, inevitably, shop and talk to others about this convenience and their purchases.

As we work with clients, we think about not only creating an app or going responsive, but also about how the user is going to use these devices and apps and how will it enable integration from their digital experience to their physical experience.

The question many of our clients have is “Does my business need this kind of crossing realm experience?” Absolutely. I can’t envision a business situation where integrating digital and physical experiences wouldn’t enhance the customer experience. Our businesses are becoming more and more dependent on social media, technology, and devices; and, whether the uses are for communicating internally or getting a product in the consumer’s hands, the more we bridge the gap, the easier we can communicate and turn ourselves into the butlers of the future.

When you go to a hotel that has the car ready based on your itinerary, the room set just the way you like it, the bed turned down for you, breakfast choices based on your preferences, and your checkout process pre-scheduled, it creates an unforgettable and most definitely repeatable experience. Imagine taking your business to that next level. What kind of relationships could that create between you and your clients?

The biggest mistake I see is the perception that going mobile or making an app is bridging that gap. It must be meaningful to your users. Look at the fitness industry and the number of fitness apps out there right now. You can track your fitness in multiple ways, but who is the butler in this industry right now? Fitbit.  If we look at Fitbit, it interacts with us. It buzzes me when I’ve been idle too long. It syncs with my phone, and I can see how my friends are doing. We can compete, socialize, and encourage each other. It’s become something we are exchanging in everyday conversation and something I can’t be without. That is the power of bridging the gap from digital to physical experiences; and, we are so darn satisfied with Fitbit – the best butlers in the fitness industries – we don’t even realize the dependencies we have to now these devices – as it should be.

Our businesses are becoming more and more dependent on social media, technology, and devices; and, whether the uses are for communicating internally or getting a product in the consumer’s hands, the more we bridge the gap, the easier we can communicate and turn ourselves into the butlers of the future.
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