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Essentials of Human-Centric Customer Experience

“People ignore design that ignores people” …Frank Chimero

There is a change in thinking about the core essentials of human-centric customer experience (CX), which is the sum-total of all interactions a customer has with a brand.

With the pandemic driving the accelerated adoption of multi-channel engagement, technology has become an essential tool for humans in their everyday experiences. Today, four consumer trends broadly dictate the art and science of human-centric CX design.

CHOICE the need for anything anywhere anytime

Today, consumers are behaviorally multi-channel for most of their needs, and this opens them to a plethora of choices of stores, products, and solutions. To stay relevant and preferred by customers, retailers need to enable multi-channel engagement within their ecosystem, to deliver an ‘endless aisle’ that extends beyond what is presented in the store.

The dichotomy of reducing space and increasing choices has compelled the use of innovative tech applications as a necessary intervention to deliver CX.

A practical application of technology is the use of a projection system to demonstrate different colours and patterns from the brand’s catalogue. This enables customers to digitally browse through a range and physically experience it on the product.

Human-Centric Customer Experience

CONTENT intuitive enabler of informed decision-making

Content, in the form of data or information, has become an integral part of most of the decisions we make. It helps to demystify our lives by helping answer the why? how? what? when? in almost everything we do. In today’s world, the consumer can not only seek information from the company but from other consumers as well, in terms of ratings or testimonials, to make an informed decision. This has pushed retailers to provide seamless information at all their touchpoints, to educate, inform and advise consumers and positively influence their buying behaviour.

A phygital product education and advisory section in a tile store enables discerning customers to know, understand and experience the huge assortment offered by the brand. This helps demystify a complex range of engineered products with multiple attributes and make an informed decision.

Human-Centric Customer Experience

CONNECT build trust through personalised service

Personalised service helps in creating belongingness, encouraging communities and enabling recognition – all ingredients for a memorable experience. This requires companies to put in a committed effort to know their consumers and be empathetic to their personal, social and material needs without being intrusive.

Connect in today’s context is the ability of brands and retailers to have a 360-degree connect with their ecosystem – company, customers, influencers and community – at all times. Studies suggest that over 92 per cent of individuals trust word-of-mouth recommendations, and 76 per cent say that they are more likely to trust content shared by ‘normal’ people than by a brand’s marketing campaign. Retailers and brands have turned to technology to enable this vital component of CX design at all touch points.

Information in terms of consumer rating, in the case of products that warrant high involvement in during buying, helps customers evaluate and make informed decisions at the point of sale. Using digital signage enables the rating to be synchronised with the company’s online platform.

Human-Centric Customer Experience

CARE, show responsibility in delivering sustainability for the planet, people and profits

Finding the right balance between these three principles of a sustainable business can lead to customers becoming brand advocates, which is considered the most effective form of marketing today. Caring bands have integrated this as part of their culture and way of doing business, by enabling their customers to participate in their initiatives during the retail experience.

Responsible brands have included their customers in their mission to reduce carbon footprint through practical and participative initiatives, which are integrated into their operating processes. On the retail floor, a well-thought-out signage system informs customers of products and actions that help deliver their sustainability goals.

Human-Centric Customer Experience

High-tech or high-touch

The challenge for retailers is not whether customer experiences need to be high-tech or high-touch. Instead, the mission is to elevate customer experiences by effectively balancing human-centeredness and technology in a hybrid model.

Human-centric CX seeks to deliver experiences that are both relevant and useful to the customer at every moment of interaction, irrespective of where or how they are delivered in the brand environment.

Also READ: Omnichannel: An Imperative for Home Improvement Retailers

Surender Gnanaolivu
Surender Gnanaolivu
Surender Gnanaolivu has over 2 decades of experience in retail strategy, store design, space planning, retail marketing, CRM, visual merchandising, retail audit, coaching, data analytics, project management and content development. He has held senior positions as Executive VP and Head Marketing, Brand Experience, Store Design, VM & Rollout at leading retailers/brands like Shoppers Stop, Reliance Retail and Mahindra Retail. His experience includes designing and operationalising over three million square feet of retail space across malls, department stores, supermarkets, and speciality stores for national and multi-national brands in India and overseas. Currently is a Retail Experience Design Curator, Lead Strategy & Development, with 4Dimensions Retail Design; and Advisor to In-Store Asia and VMRD Retail Design Awards.
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