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August 5, 2019 | By

AI IRL Podcast Episode 29: Leveraging AI to Create Exceptional Customer Experiences in the Retail Space


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You only need to look at the media or read a news report to see that the retail industry is facing challenging times. There are big things about store closures, bankruptcy, etc.

But these challenging times bring plenty of opportunity, as well. Retailers must step up and focus on serving customers in an exquisite way. And with the rise of technology and things like AI, there is that opportunity to serve customers better than ever before.

On the latest episode of AI: IRL Oliver Banks joins me to talk about how retailers can think strategically about the digital transformation to create the best possible customer experience.

These were some of our key takeaways.

It’s All About Upping the Customer Experience

When you want to buy a new pair of shoes, it’s very easy to go to the store and articulate to the store representative what you’re looking for. Once you do, that store representative can then help you go find the shoes you’re looking for.

In the digital store, you can see every pair of shoes available. You know whether they’re in stock, and when you’ll be able to get them delivered. But the problem is that much of the onus is on you as the consumer. You have to use filters, search menus, and all sorts of tools to navigate from 5,000 pair of shoes to the five that might be relevant to you and what you want.

There’s a tremendous opportunity in the retail space today to combine the benefits of an in-store experience — high levels of personalization, with the benefits of shopping online — infinite inventory and scalability to create the best possible customer experience.

Of course there’s technology you can use to bring those experiences together.

But to make sure you’re really creating an exquisite experience for your customers, you’ve got to think a bit more strategically.

“Physical stores have really got to step up and serve customers in an exquisite way.” — Oliver Banks

Before You Surge Forward, Step Back

Rather than just surging forward, one of the first things you want to do is actually take a step back.

Look at how the world is changing. What’s changing for your customers? In your business? For your staff members? Think about new generations…how is their mindset different from previous generations? How is technology changing? How is communication changing?

All of these things could play a part in how you choose to better serve your customers.

For your particular retail business, some of them will be relevant and some of them won’t. And you might be on top of some of them already, as well. The important thing is make sure you’re stepping back to assess the whole picture before you move forward with a new strategy.

Fall in Love With the Problem

Next, you’ve got to fall in love with the problem so you can actually work out what’s the best solution.

No one turns around and says, “Our problem is we don’t have AI.” That’s not the problem.

You have a deeper problem. And AI is a solution.

Maybe it’s the best solution. Maybe it’s not.

It depends on what it is that you’re facing.

Understand Your Goal

“With the rise of technology and things like AI, there is that opportunity to serve customers better than ever before.” — Oliver Banks

From there, understanding what your goal is is absolutely critical.

For too many transformation programs just start careening off into the wild meadow of change.

But it’s not going to be pretty if you don’t know where you’re going.

You’ve got to be really crystal clear on where you’re trying to go.

But you need to be semi flexible, as well.

It’s about the balance.

Do What You’re Good At

Oliver stresses on thing to his clients: Do what you’re good at.

If you’re not a tech company, don’t try to build your own AI solution.

Focus on what you do best.

You’ve Got to Actually Deliver Change

“You’ve got to deliver the change. Customers don’t care how hard you’ve tried. If nothing gets delivered, it’s pointless.” — Oliver Banks

You’ve got to deliver the change. If you just talk about it or plan around it, nothing changes.

Customers don’t care how hard you’ve tried.

If nothing gets delivered, it’s pointless.

Retailers must step up and focus on serving customers in an exquisite way.

And with the rise of technology and things like AI, there is that opportunity to serve customers better than ever before. But before you launch into technology solutions, step back and think strategically.

This discussion with Oliver Banks was taken from our AI: In Real Life. If you want to hear more AI episodes like this one, check us out on iTunes here.


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