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Comment: Make contact more human says Paul Silcox of Green Room

Today, the complexities of retail are almost without end.

The path to purchase is no longer linear, or predictable. And with myriad touchpoints at their disposal, brands and marketers continue to find themselves in unchartered territory. Stitching together our omnichannel retail world is more complex than ever, further compounded by an increasingly unforgiving and impatient customer as the audience.

The challenge for retailers is not simply to provide great product, prices and service – those are a given. But beyond this, competitive advantage is gained with well-considered key ‘moments’ - interventions that perfectly understand and respond to the emotional state of the person at specific points along their ‘journey’.

Attempt to engage me when I’m on a quick convenience journey and I, more often than not, won’t appreciate the intrusion. Avoid me when I’m on an indulgent journey, perhaps sending signals that I want to engage and I will, without doubt, resent you.

Identifying the defining moments that add the most value at each individual touchpoint is crucial. Considering basic human needs and emotional states along the way will help construct a clearer picture of the physical journey. Moreover, the emotional fluctuations that are encountered, which might range from delight to disgust, go toward shaping their overall experience. Take time to scrutinise what these moments could and should be, as they are not always instantly obvious.

It doesn’t have to be complicated; we all seek memorable experiences, experiences that help us learn, teach, grow, do, give and be more. In the commercial world nothing is different, customers today expect to be surprised, inspired and made to feel valued.

Whether offering a customer an unexpected free upgrade to a suite on arrival at the hotel check-in on their birthday, or creating a minute or two of escapism that allows ordinary folk to experience life in the fast lane as an F1 driver, if we are able to identify these defining moments, through a sea of potential touchpoints, then we can find ways to create the ‘spikes’ that help people fall in love with your brand.

Make them bold, make them stupid, make them personal… whatever is appropriate at that moment to make your brand, product or service connect in a way that makes people respond positively. Above all else – to ensure maximum return – make these moments HUMAN.

To be human means to have our own personal feelings and emotions. We are individuals and we want to be treated as such. More than ever we are seeking an emotional interaction and connection with the brands we bring into our lives, beyond the transactional exchange.

On a lower emotional scale, Uber Eats offers customers reassurance in knowing when their anticipated bottle of wine is being delivered to their door, down to the minute. While not necessarily the be all and end all, it is important to get this ‘moment’ right, as it may still connect with a basic emotional human need, resulting in customer loyalty and satisfaction.

We can all be wonderfully volatile, impulsive, contrary, quirky, irrational and often aren’t fully aware of the influences around us; our subconscious doing much of the decision making. The mood-state and mind-set at the time of interaction with key brand moments will vary for all of us. Therefore, upping the game and employing every sensorial weapon we have available to talk to all the senses, to get the desired response, is fundamental to success.

With so much today being spoken and written about how technology – through the customer journey – can create great consumer experiences, it is easy to forget that we are human first and foremost and that treating us as such at the right moment must be where the creative solution starts.

Paul Silcox is creative director of Green Room