Commentary | IT Matters

Improving Customer Satisfaction with Consumer Engagement Apps

Tags: Logistics I.T., Retail, Manufacturing

Nate Henderson is the Global Manager of BILT, at SAP.

Walking into a retail store today, customers are presented with myriad options for every product. But how can they know which is the best for their needs, among two, five, or 10 different options?

Before the digital age, we might have asked a friend or neighbor which product they use. Now, we turn to the Internet, where thousands of virtual strangers can offer input on our decision. This applies not only to a product’s features and capabilities, but also its assembly and maintenance. For example, what good is a baby crib if you can’t figure out how to put it together?

Often, we are left with a flimsy sheet of cryptic instructions, sometimes presented without words at all, to transform a pile of materials into something useable. It’s a daunting task, and if things don’t go as planned, the consumer is left frustrated and unhappy with their product – and they aren’t afraid to tell their friends online. Loudly, if need be. With this disconnect between product selection online or in-store and the dissatisfaction once it’s brought home, there is a call for better solutions to aid customers in today’s Do-It-Yourself (DIY) culture.

To answer this need, technology companies are creating new applications that provide interactive, 3-D, voice-guided assembly, repair, and installation instructions. When buying a product – let’s take that baby crib as an example – the consumer can find corresponding video instructions through the app, and get help with the entire assembly process, from identifying the materials, to turning the right screws, to standing it upright and polishing it off, all ready for a baby in less time than it would take to assemble using standard instructions.

For manufacturers, this is a game changer. Unhappiness with a product’s assembly can result in a high volume of complaints and returns, resulting in a loss of revenue. Even more, if the consumer is angry enough, he may become a detractor on social media, posting critical feedback and taking future customers away from the brand.

Help Where Customers Need It

With these new tablet applications, manufacturers and retailers engage with the customer even after they leave the store. New software helps consumers register their products and manage the warranty process through the customer’s device. Additionally, they can provide feedback on the experience in real-time.

Consequently, retailers see fewer returns and less negative feedback online. This tangible evidence of customer satisfaction can prompt retailers to keep a manufacturer’s products visible and well stocked. For manufacturers, this also means improving customer satisfaction scores without touching the engineering of the product.

This extends to the world of repair and maintenance as well. Products break or malfunction – usually after you’ve tossed the instructions or manual. This applies to consumers, but can also be brought to professionals working in plants, or maintenance workers in warehouses. Since these applications typically require no implementation or technical integration, the benefits can be achieved quickly.

In today’s digital world, consumer engagement never ends during the lifecycle of a product, and if the consumer is happy with their purchase, it ensures the continued business of the consumer, and a strong relationship between the shopper and the brand. With more and more manufacturers providing a revolutionary assembly experience, the consumer – and manufacturers themselves – stands to benefit.

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