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Put the customer first

Technology can help retailers make the shopping experience all about the customer, argues Garry Lee, chief executive of RedEye.

In my foreword to last year’s report, I talked about better anticipating the customer’s needs, being prepared for GDPR and the omnichannel experience. Apologises for repeating myself a little, but I’d like to touch briefly on one of those subjects again, before talking about something a little different for this coming year – how AI is the saviour of both marketing and the customer, not the wolf in sheep’s clothing it’s sometimes pictured to be.

I’m pleased to say that the omnichannel experience has become a hot topic over the last 12 months, although I’m not seeing a wealth of data showing that brands have cracked it yet. There are more and more brands getting the multichannel process right, ensuring that the same general message translates across the different channels your customer uses. However, what brands need to strive for is an individualised message that follows the customer across channels, a one-to-one communication regardless of where that customer interacts with you.

If you know that a specific customer could lapse, recently looked at trainers and loves a bargain, let’s make sure this information is fed into your email campaigns, messages in the customer’s social media timelines, a push notification or even a mail drop (what’s old is new!).

Let’s use the technology to make it genuinely about the customer. This is where I believe AI can increasingly support retailers in the future. It can help you to both anticipate the customer needs and fuel powerful marketing automation. It supports you in not only understanding your customer, but also in using that knowledge to communicate a resonant message across different channels. I’m hopeful this is where we are heading in 2019.

AI in retail

AI and its influence on retail and the customer experience is one of the most in-vogue topics right now. I hear the following phrase a lot: “AI will kill the influence of marketing”. People assume that the rise of things such as machine learning and the increasing influence of marketing automation means that traditional marketing and marketers will lose their influence.

However, I firmly believe the opposite! It frees marketers up to focus on where they can make the difference – understanding the customer and delivering the right message, free from all the manual work that the computers can do for you.

I think this is exactly the same for customer services and our ability to improve the experience we deliver to the customer. Imagine, if through things such as automated response systems and chatbots, you were able to manage quickly and effectively 90% of customer enquiries. We are already in a world where this happens and, as we head into 2019, it will become the norm.

Next year will bring more intelligent use of data to further anticipate problems before they happen. The focus will switch to spotting patterns and then interrupting a poor experience to help the customer get back on track before the issue becomes fatal to the relationship.

All of this then leaves you much more time to focus on the 10% of enquiries that need your attention and allows you to take a genuinely personal approach with those people. Improving the customer experience, lowering complaints and, ultimately, increasing revenues in the long term, all the while giving those working in marketing and customer services more enjoyable jobs… what’s not to love about that?

So, let’s continue to embrace change. Allow the machines to take on the jobs we don’t actually want, and free us up to focus on what’s important – the customer.

About RedEye

Using RedEye’s Multi-Channel Marketing Hub, B2C brands increase their income by an average of 38% in only their first year, with our unique mix of data, people and technology. And that’s our goal: to help you deliver amazing results. We’re fans of big words like ‘AI-driven marketing automation’ but really, we believe that sophisticated solutions can be simple. Wherever you are in the process of automating your marketing, the RedEye team is here to help.

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