Human interaction in retail is becoming less common as consumers shop online or use automated machines to find and purchase products in stores. This does not mean, however, that companies should ditch human interaction in retail altogether, a new Raconteur article suggests.
Heather Richards, Chief Executive of customer service software company Transversal, says that customers prioritise efficiency, but that it usually does not matter to them whether machines or humans are the ones helping.
“What most people appreciate is an effortless experience, whether with a human or a robot. Answers delivered quickly, with minimal effort by the customer. When they need to speak to a customer adviser, they expect to be dealing with an expert,” Richards said.
Richards said that people often want human interaction when dealing with “complex or costly services or products” such as new cars, car seats for children and especially in emergency situations, such as when vehicles break down. Frank Palermo, Global Head of Digital Solutions at VirtusaPolaris, agreed. “Think of buying a home, a car or a life insurance policy – would you really be more satisfied doing this through an app without any human interaction?” Palermo asked.
Palermo points out that customers are able to do research before purchases now, giving them more power than before. Customers can know the details and cost of the product they desire before even stepping into the store. This does not mean that retail workers are now useless to customers, but rather they must learn to take on new, more consultative roles.