This week’s Ask the Expert is answered by Dave Stark. Dave is the CEO of Conversity, a provider of a guided selling technology platform that helps retail, telecommunications and consumer brands to replace inconsistent, fragmented customer journeys with personalised and consistent ones across all channels. 

Ask the Expert: What is guided selling technology and how can it help brands to offer a more personalised customer service experience?

Intelligent guided selling (IGS) technology is a tool that can help potential buyers in their decision-making process by gently prompting and guiding them through a logical sequence of questions, options, comparisons and decisions, in order to help the right products and services that best fulfil their needs. By leveraging the insight gathered through methods such as structured consultation, behavioural data analysis and a company’s transactional data, the tool is able to gather relevant information and automatically put together a solution that best serves the customer. This can create a much more personalised and fluent consumer journey, often helping to drive higher conversion rates, higher order values, reduced buying process abandonment, quicker journey completion and improved customer satisfaction.

Intelligent guided selling can be delivered on a cloud-based platform and it can be linked to other applications such as CRM, a company’s own product data, stock availability, and various other sources of data such as customer reviews, previous sales records, social media analysis and consumer behaviour. This approach enables brands to better understand their consumers and how to best interact and sell to them. The intelligence and data-driven approach of the technology enables recommendations to be made in real time. It also has the ability to react to changing trends, consumer demand and other important factors such stock availability, promotions and previous shopping habits.

In today’s competitive and digitally-focused world, where brands are faced with changing consumer demands, pressure from increasing costs and fluctuating consumer confidence a more intelligent and agile data driven approach can act as the key differentiator for any retailer wanting to stand out from the crowd. This approach can also be one of the key drivers in helping retailers to mitigate against catastrophic performance slumps many have seen this year. The engagement, interaction and consultation provided by a guided sales platform provides a reason for customers to visit, buy and repeat visit physical stores.. Therefore, the importance of understanding a data-driven approach can be a crucial turning point here.

Consumers today expect their omnichannel shopping experience to be dynamic, personalised and informative. It is no longer sufficient to simply offer a product, provide some basic information and give a price to a customer. Consumers are inundated with choice, which can lead to paralysis of decision, and a prospective customer leaving a site or store to conduct their own research on a product if not enough is done to guide them. To this end, providing them with advice and support throughout their journey as a customer is crucial if a retailer is to make headway in such a fiercely competitive environment.

A recent consumer buying behaviour panel revealed a majority view that digital consumer journeys, offered by both pure play digital or omni-channel retailers do not offer the product information or assistance that consumers love about in-store retail. The answer would seem to be to converge the best of digital and bricks and mortar as a consistent customer experience. Guided sales can offer virtual assistance via the digital channel and a platform for instore consultation with learned instore retail associates. 70% of the consumer panel recognised assistance drives them to buy more.

Intelligent guided selling technology can help to simplify the complexity of choice and speed in the customer journey. Instead of a generic approach, it can match consumers’ individual needs to deliver a personalised service recommendation. In a world where speed and responsiveness play a huge role, one of the only things to help retailers to stand out is the relationship they have with their customer. Companies like Amazon are always going to be strong on price, convenience, availability and delivery options. However, increasing personalisation and customer intimacy gained through guided selling can help level the playing field and provide a key strategic advantage in today’s competitive environment.

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