Saturday, June 8, 2013

Interact with Shoppers Like a Person

An Adweek article this week says a number of retail stores are incorporating interactive digital technologies. The main example given by the article is an AT&T store located in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile where you can play games on a video wall equipped with motion-sensing capabilities. Then there’s the Pep Boys outlet in Tampa, with its digital lounge, and the plans JPMorgan Chase has to hand off most banking functions to self-serve kiosks.
     The Adweek article also reports on concerns some retailing analysts harbor that all these devices might not be worth the investment. Opportunities for interactions with salespeople, not computers, are what distinguish store-based from online selling, and it is those opportunities which draw consumers away from online transactions and into the stores.
     Reading about this reminded me of how, in the 1980’s, the Social Security Administration got concerned about the amount of eye contact the claims representatives were making with their clients, the benefits applicants. SSA was installing computers in all the field offices and wanted to be sure that taking claims with an on-screen form didn’t keep the claims reps from delivering the personal touch of looking at the consumer. Eye contact communicates interest, confirms understanding, and allows checking for signs of dishonesty.
     During the transition from paper to computer, I was the chief outside consultant to SSA on human factors. We learned that proper positioning of the terminal and ongoing coaching of the staff accomplished our objectives. We all wanted the retail staff—in the case of SSA, the claims reps—to interact with the clients like people, not digital devices.
     Proper eye contact continues to be a success tool for every organization aiming to provide products and services face-to-face. During the time Ron Johnson achieved his sterling successes as Senior VP of retail at Apple, he emphasized the importance of Apple Store staff looking around to spot shoppers and then communicating commitment to the shopper’s interests by looking at the shopper.
     The Adweek article says the changes at the stores have been inspired by the triumphs of Apple’s retailing. It’s good to know, then, that management has heard the rest of the story. JPMorgan Chase plans to still keep the teller windows. Paul Roth, President-Retail Sales & Service at Apple, is quoted as saying success from the upgrades is contingent on more than the new playthings: “Retail always depends on how good your people are.”

Click below for more: 
Put On Soft Contact Lenses for Shoppers 
Compare Notes on Body Language 
Acknowledge People Waiting in Line

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