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Tony Chilvers
Industry Expert

Tony Chilvers is a marketing and communications specialist with experience in multiple industries in South Africa and Australia

Tony Chilvers
Industry Expert

Tony Chilvers is a marketing and communications specialist with experience in multiple industries in South Africa and Australia

Retail and customer service is dramatically changing, but a world where the online experience is also offline is becoming increasingly important.

The overwhelming movement for businesses towards getting online and using technology to streamline the purchasing experience and cut costs has been going on for many years.  But in the rush to take advantage of the benefits of an online presence, it’s important to ensure your fundamentals aren’t lost – especially when it comes to customer experience.

In an increasingly online, on demand world, it can be a real pleasure to remember what it’s like to be looked after.

Kent and Lime's office

Hello human

The challenge and opportunity for small business today is to create a customer experience that not only transcends the digital/real world experience, but also brings a level of human interaction back into the game. What small businesses lack in budget can often be made up by smartly using the right team who are already on the ground.

A focus on human interaction is needed to provide a more engaging, personalised and comprehensive customer experience.

Connectivity and the combined online and offline customer experience will set retailers apart...

– Will Rogers, Kent and Lime

Made for men

When we first met with Kent and Lime, their innovation – capitalising on a gap in the men’s fashion retail industry by combining phone consultations with men’s stylists and a personalised online shopping experience – was just hitting its stride. Aside from finding a niche they could service, they smartly tapped into audience insights and harnessed the power of fast Internet and mobile devices to resolve the tensions (for men) that come with shopping. More importantly when designing their product, they designed a crucial real-world experience into their offering that brought their online startup offline.

We caught up with them to get their thoughts on why being online isn’t enough.

You’re invited

While online at-home shopping will continue to grow, it’s important that businesses don’t lose sight of the value a personal connection can bring – even if technology is a facilitator of that connection. Technologies such as webcam and video calling are bringing the human element back into purchase cycles that online can’t fully replace.

Whether you’re selling financial products, walking through technical product specifications, or helping someone design their perfect wardrobe: pick up the phone or line up a video call. Your audience wants (and will likely appreciate) that personal connection.

Three tips to personal connection
  1. Understand your audience and what they need. When you know who your true audience is and what their pain points are, you can align your online experience, technology and on the ground team to deliver a differentiator in your customer experience
  2. Good customer experiences don’t have to break the bank. Assess the capabilities and infrastructure that exist between your offline and online offering – there is a sweet spot. There is no need to overthink and overinvest in your ‘moment’ – look for the gap between online and offline that can be bridged through human interaction
  3. Technology and connectivity are your friends. Small businesses that plan their technical infrastructure, technology and connectivity around the digital behaviours of their intended audiences put themselves in a position of power. Keep investing in the online to understand your customers and then seek to bring this to life in the real world
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