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Customer Behavior

Self-Service: Meet the Demands of the Re-Wired Shopper

The Re-Wired Shopper

Customers have changed over the last six years to the point where they are completely different from how they were in the early 2000’s. The widespread use of technology has increased the number of ways a customer can interact with an organization and how they make purchase decisions.

Before Internet Marketing, Social Media and Mobile Marketing, customers understood that they had limited contact with companies and businesses had limited access to customer information. People were more forgiving of sub-par shopping experiences that were not optimized.

Now, consumers expect a more targeted approach to advertising, products, and services. If a business doesn’t offer the right services to create exceptional shopping experiences, they may find that the repercussions of that mistake will have huge implications for their revenue.

But, digital technology and mobile have not only changed what customers expect from businesses and how they shop, they have literally changed the brains of shoppers and how they think. Neuro-Psychology refers to his phenomenon as “Re-wiring”.

Book: Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy

In 2007, Gary Small, UCLA professor of psychiatry conducted a study on brain activity with 3 experienced Web surfers and 3 novices who were asked to start searching and shopping the Internet.

The result: The two groups showed remarkable differences. Brain activity of more experienced surfers was far more extensive than that of the novices, particularly in areas of the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with problem-solving and decision-making.

These new rewired shoppers are looking to learn and discover things on their own and companies need to provide self-service options that help them find the right solutions. The changes in consumer decision-making mean that marketers need to adjust their spending and view this development not as a loss of power over consumers, but as an opportunity to be in the right place at the right time, giving them the information and support they need to make the right decisions.

Managing the Customer Experience

Businesses need to create a more customer-focused approach to marketing and customer service, especially with mobile strategies. ClickZ suggests a sense and response strategy that helps a company continuously collect data and use it to modify its marketing and services. With 60% of digital media access being done via mobile devices, a comprehensive approach to the re-wired shopper needs to include mobile apps, responsive websites and flexible customer service.

Self-Service Strategies that Work

The ability for a company’s website to learn, improvise and adapt is especially important when it comes to customer service. Studies show that 67% of people prefer the self-service approach to solving product issues and 59% are frustrated when they have to contact the customer service department. These customers feel they can solve problems faster on their own without having to go through the hassle of contacting customer service and explaining their problem repeatedly.

[bctt tweet=”71% of customers prefer a virtual assistant to static Web pages when it comes to self-service.” via=”no”] (source)

[bctt tweet=”Gartner predicts that 50% of online customer self-service will happen though virtual assistants” via=”no”]

Yet, despite the fact that the majority of customers prefer the self-service approach, 58% of people find that it is impossible to locate the answers they need. That is because many businesses have yet to develop a successful self-service strategy.

As shoppers are shopping in a different way, companies need to change how they think about and interact with their customers and leverage opportunities to stand out. These are 4 aspects you will have to consider:

1. Do it yourself

Don’t call me, I’ll call you!

Today, buyers are digital explorers who want to be in control, prefer doing their own research online and want to feel absolutely secure about the purchases they’re making. They’ll be coming to you not necessarily knowing what they want exactly, but with a stronger sense of what they need.

Opportunities to stand out:

  • Help customers help themselves by offering interactive content resources that help shoppers learn about your product or service on their own – without having to speak to a sales person
  • Make the information easy to find with links to your social profiles and other marketing materials
  • Make sure your shoppers leave the store knowing a lot more about you and your products than they knew before they walked in.
  • Re-evaluate your strategies regularly to make sure to build and continuously manage your digital presence.


2. Less tolerance for complexity

I want what I want when I want it, and that is pretty much now!

Shoppers today are less patient and crave simplicity. They have a lower tolerance for ambiguity and complexity and hassle-free shopping is more important than ever before.

Opportunities to stand out:

  • Offer control and simplicity
  • Remove barriers and de-clutter pages
  • Reduce the time shoppers need to evaluate, decide and choose products


3. Faster Decision-making

Be an insight provider, not a product pusher

Today’s buying decisions are made on a short notice and in most categories, it takes only two days from the first impulse to the actual purchase. Considering that shoppers are confronted with highly complex offerings, businesses have to make sure that their potential customers are capable of making a decision in a short amount of time.

Opportunities to stand out:

  • Understand what makes your shoppers decide
  • Every moment in a consumer’s decision journey matters. To win these moments, you need to be there when inspiration strikes consumers and as your shoppers start researching purchases online.
  • Offer solutions that help guide your shoppers through to a confident purchase decision


4. Me-oriented

Make it all about me, even if I’m not able to articulate what I need

The rise in social media interactions has created “me”-oriented and self-driven shoppers who welcome the attention of businesses and are interested in products and services that work for them specifically. These empowered shoppers expect personalized offers. However, research also found that social media has made people less trusting and being more self-protective shoppers.

Opportunities to stand out:

  • Focus on the shopper’s needs throughout the complete purchase journey to build trust
  • Deliver personalized experiences that consider the shopper’s explicit and implicit preferences
  • Be consistent across channels
  • Match the online experience with the experience in stores
  • Don’t make it difficult for shoppers to engage across channels they prefer
  • Allow customers to access product information, including reviews, and alternative product options


Self-Service Done Right

The sense and respond approach is a strategy that works well in the customer service environment.

Offering self-service creates a clear opportunity for service providers to provide a better experience and reduce costs.

If you integrate effective self-service solutions, you are not only able to save operating costs but also help create successful customer journeys and foster customer loyalty. Online self-services offer many gains for both customers and companies. You encourage your customers to become product and brand experts, and you can become experts on your customer’s experience with your products and services.

Using a comprehensive approach to meet the new demands of all your shoppers will help your business to connect with the re-wired shopper:

Find out about the differing needs of your shoppers (experts vs. novices) and create a self-service path that is easy to use and navigate for each of these shopper types.

Use feedback and testing to continuously optimize your self-service solution for all devices, remove unnecessary steps and make the self-service experience more personalized.

Talk about it. Your shoppers need to be made aware of your self-service options and its benefits compared to other services. Make them easy to find and integrate the look and feel of the rest of online web presence.

Check out how different businesses use Guided selling approaches to give shoppers the guidance they need and the control they want: Guided selling examples

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Wendyann Lewis has over twenty years of sales and marketing experience. She has degrees in e-business management and business technology and has worked for eight years in digital media. Wendyann is an avid tech geek with an interest in technologies to help business and consumers.