Between the ages of four and six, I grew up in a small Austrian village called Rechnitz, 100 or so miles from Austria’s capital, Vienna. Every week, my grandfather would take me around the town square to complete his weekly routine which included visits to the bakery, supermarket and last but not least, at least for me, was the confectionary. No matter where we went, every employee at every store knew his name and they would engage in some level of small talk and exchange trivial bits of information (which they would never forget). They knew what he wanted as soon as he walked into the stores and sometimes even gave suggestions on what he might want to try based on what they knew of him from the bits of information they had exchanged over the years. After my first visit with him they even knew what I wanted (Kinder Surprise!) While this term didn’t exist back then, today we’d refer to those interactions as a personalized experience, or ‘personalization’.

By personalization, I don’t just mean sending marketing coupons with the right context at the right date/time. I mean building a relationship with a customer where they genuinely feel the connection with the brand and people. Ask yourself when you have felt a similar level of connection with a brand that you are loyal to. Ask yourself when you have felt that loyalty rewarded rather than being treated like it’s the first time you’ve done business with that brand. I’m not living in the past, but how do brands bring back that “small town” feel to their organization and do it at scale and cost effectively?

Defining omni-channel

Trying to couple today’s digital complexities with yesterday’s ‘brick and mortar’ traditions to create that small town feel is no easy feat (doesn’t matter whether it’s retail, hospitality etc). Omni-channel is at the heart of this digital customer experience transition that organizations need to strive for, yet it’s been an elusive goal for many.

While I’m not a huge fan of the term “omni-channel”, I can’t think of a better one so we’ll go along with it for now. One of the reasons for the dislike of this term stems from it being extremely overused yet one of the least understood or practiced terms in the industry. Omni-channel in my book means (at a very high level), retaining context when moving from one channel to another. That could be from web to app; web to contact center; app/web to store; store to contact center etc. Most organizations struggle with retaining context within a channel (repeating info to an agent(s) when transferred within a contact center for example), let alone between two separate digital channels and all bets are off when moving from a ‘brick and mortar’ channel to digital or vice versa.

     “Omni-channel is at the heart of this digital customer experience transition that organizations need to strive for, yet it’s been an elusive goal for many.”                                                                                                 

Going back to the beginning of this post, I essentially touched on a personalized buying experience. In order to provide that personalized experience, one of the required ingredients is an understanding of who your customer is. What are their habits, trends, likes/dislikes and demographic details that you can stitch together into actionable insights?

Digging into analytics

Click Analytics, Page Views, Visit/Session, Repeat/Return/New Visitor, Bounce Rate, Session/Visit Duration: the list goes on and on and keeps getting longer. These are some of the terms we use with web analytics. Generally, these analytics are used to understand customer behavior and optimize web usage. But how useful is this information for you to understand your guest/customer/patient/employee behavior/trends etc. in your very own building(s) whether that be a retail store, mall, airport, hotel, sports arena, or restaurant?

While analytics for web/app have been around forever, analytics for brick and mortar just haven’t been a big focus or metric that organizations measure. I’m not sure if it’s because of the we’ve-never-done-it-that-way mentality, or because the solutions cost an arm or a leg, or because some solutions just don’t scale (someone carrying a clip board observing behavior). Whatever the case, this is a space that needs major attention.

What part does Wi-Fi play in an omni-channel world?

Do you have a good pulse on what your customers/guests/patients/consumers/fans are saying, doing or expressing under your roof? In an omni-channel journey that your customers embark on, social and ‘brick and mortar’ are just two of the channels where the metrics on what your customers are feeling or doing are least understood. Voice of the customer programs (VOC) might give you a glimpse but these are rarely in real time.

What if, in an effort to understand your customers better, you didn’t have to “pull/push” them for information (surveys, phone calls etc)? What if we just tapped into their preferred channels they are using every day and monitored those without being intrusive to understand what is happening underneath your roof?

     “What if, in an effort to understand your customers better, you didn’t have to “pull/push” them for information (surveys, phone calls etc)?”                                                                                                

We’ll start with Wi-Fi. It’s not very well known, but just as you can track someone’s mobile phone via GPS or triangulation with mobile tower pings, your Wi-Fi network has similar capabilities. Local Measure has partnered with Cisco, and decided to partner with Cisco alone due to many reasons but the obvious one is that they are the undisputed market leader when it comes to connectivity. Considering that a majority of the US population (and many around the world) have a smart phone, this gives organizations the ability to detect smart phones under their roof and start collecting very relevant data. While this article is a couple of years old, the key learnings it highlights are still relevant, “How many people come by my store or my department or my display? And of those people, how many actually stay? More importantly, how long? This helps you answer questions like, when should I schedule more salespeople or which promotions are grabbing people’s attention? And while this example is for retail, it’s just as relevant for hotels, theme parks, airports, stadiums, hospitals, and museums.”

One can take advantage of wireless technology to capture anonymous guest/customer behavior within their four walls. That gets you one level closer to what your customers are doing. Companies deploying Cisco wireless technologies (whether it’s their Meraki solution, CMX on premise or in the cloud) have the ability to access this capability but surprising very rarely do. But how do you know WHO they are and what they are SAYING? Enter social.

What part do social channels play in an omni-channel world?

While it’s possible to allow free guest Wi-Fi access to your customers/guests, how you do this can vary greatly, each method having pros and cons.

Maybe you have a brand app (only a small percentage of customers use a brands app in any meaningful way) that allows access to guest Wi-Fi, and that allows you to correlate that user (the who) with the Wi-Fi data. For example, John walked into the store at 11:15am, when in the store he walked from the entrance to xx department where he dwelled for 12 minutes. John engaged with 1 store associate and left shortly after. Maybe you just provide a click through (no real correlation to the WHO) or have customers enter their email address (while I don’t have data on this, I would assume most people enter a phony email address when this option is presented).

Another option for customer Wi-Fi is to allow social login. Which means one can use their credentials from social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. to login to guest Wi-Fi. This is where Local Measure ties the social world with the mobile/Wi-Fi world. Now it’s possible to not only correlate who is moving about your location, and what they are doing in your location, but also understand their likes/dislikes, posting history, influencer level, and demographic information to be able to truly personalize the experience for that guest/customer. This is just scratching the surface. From here, many possibilities exist and how you leverage these actionable insights to truly turn them into unique experiences for your brand is something we’d love to discuss.

Learn more about our Cisco partnership or get in touch.