When we think about digital technology trends in the service industry, many picture robot waiters and virtual shop assistants. This is relatively true, albeit on a smaller scale. Still, there are plenty more examples to consider when considering the influence digital technology has on our everyday lives.
Three of them are AI and automation, interactive shopping, and collaboration in marketing and purchasing.
AI and Automation
Technology has never played a bigger role in the service industry as it does now. Let us take, for example, an entrepreneur looking to start his business in food services. Let us imagine that, after doing his due diligence and enough research, he has decided to look into a chicken franchise opportunity.
Once the business is set and ready to go, there are several ways in which digital technology can contribute to its success. One example is the use of automated POS or point of sales systems and network infrastructure. Instead of waiting in line or looking at a menu, customers can use personal computerized booths to identify available choices, make food and drink selections, and get advice on the most delicious or best-selling products.
When the customer makes his choice, this information is automatically uploaded into a prearranged system. This system not only stores information but also uses the data to create insights into future customer behavior.
The benefits to the organization are obvious. On the one hand, it can focus its resources on specific items that are more popular within its clientele. On the other, it can save money on marketing and advertising studies and campaigns.
Interactive Shopping Experiences
Even though clothing, shoes, bags, and accessories are products, they still fall into the service category. The reason is that customers who buy them at brick-and-mortar locations do it for both the product itself as well as the shopping experience.
People want to try out things, see whether they can mix and match them with other items they currently own and ultimately make the best financial decision.
Yet, interestingly enough, they want to do this without being bored by over-attentive salespeople and shop staff. They need the help and the information but don’t have the desire to speak to another person.
Enter personalized customer experiences, the key to survival for non-online retailers. Customers, before anything else, are individuals. As a result, they want to be treated in a way that is unique to them. They don’t want to hear the same advice that all other buyers hear. Rather, they are interested in customized suggestions that fit their bodies, gender, tastes, and wallets.
It is essential for shopping malls and department stores to incorporate digital technology systems into their daily operations. Only by doing so will they be able to keep customers walking in through the door.
Businesses catering to retail customers have different ways to market their products and services. In the past, the most popular one was hiring the services of an advertising agency and investing money in either a TV commercial or a print ad in a newspaper or magazine. As of 2021, this is still happening. Even so, things have drastically changed.
As many will attest to, the best kind of marketing is free marketing. By free, we are implying word of mouth. The probability of choosing a product because it was recommended to you by a friend or family member is much higher than if you see it advertised on television. Even if the person on the ad is your favorite athlete or pop star, most would rather believe the advice of those closest to them.
So, how does this relate to digital technology? The answer is straightforward. Digital technology allows users to rate the quality and level of satisfaction in the products and services they get in real-time. Not only that, but they can share them in words, pictures, and video through social media platforms and chat software.
From a business perspective, it means involving the customer in all aspects of the organization’s product development and marketing strategy. For example, a consumer electronics company like Apple or Sony can hold live online events to launch new products. A restaurant, cafe, or bar can have virtual launches for foodies to get a glimpse of their drinks and dishes months before the actual opening.
When it comes to the service industry, the biggest driver of change is digital technology. As new technology develops along with people’s expectations, one can only wonder what will happen next.
One thing is for sure, though. The level of influence the customer has in the entire process will only continue to expand.