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AI & customer experience at the time of Covid-19

The Covid-19 is profoundly transforming consumption patterns and customer experience, understanding consumer expectations has never been more crucial.
Here's how AI will enable you to address customer experience issues for the future.

Customer experience, a core issue for points of sale in the Covid-19 era

Post-lockdown is a major issue for retailers. The objective is for them to regain a level of activity and attendance at their points of sale similar to the pre-crisis level, while 47% of French people say they are worried about going back to the shops.

This period will be marked by social distancing and other safety rules; it is therefore essential for retailers to understand these new behaviours as soon as possible, as well as new consumer requirements, in order to rethink their customer experience and facilitate the return to their points of sale.

New customer expectations shaping the point-of-sale experience

The emergence of new behaviours and needs


Thanks to the Covid-19 crisis, new types of consumers, new expectations and new modes of consumption have emerged. 

On one hand, some are reluctant to go back to stores for safety reasons, others advocate for more responsible consumption and are reducing their purchases considerably. On the other hand, reassuring customers about their safety and compliance with hygiene measures in points of sale has become a major issue for retailers, since 34% of French people consider cleaning and disinfecting to be the most important criteria when choosing a store after the lockdown. Finally, customers have embraced online consumption; in France in April 2020, 18% of e-commerce websites recorded an increase in sales. Some customers are even planning to adopt this mode of consumption on a long-term basis, with 9 out of 10 shoppers saying they plan to continue to shop online after the lockdown. 

Retailers must therefore be attentive to these new consumer habits and adapt their point-of-sale experience accordingly. The aim is first of all to reassure consumers, but also to be attractive compared to e-commerce, by offering an adapted customer experience. 


A redesigned customer journey


When adapting the customer journey, there must be a strong focus on hygiene in points of sale: cleaning and disinfecting stores, offering contactless payments, and compliance with barrier gestures are all measures that will help restore consumer trust.

On the other hand, retailers must be innovative in terms of in-store experience in order to attract customers back. This can be achieved by digitizing points of sale (e.g., PSG with its interactive in-store device) offering flexible purchasing options (Click & Collect or Click & Drive), or highly personalized in-store advice adapted to new health measures (e.g. information tablets in points of sale). 

Finally, given the acceleration of e-commerce sales, retailers will undoubtedly have to rely on an omni-channel experience, which will necessitate increasing the number of instore and online contact points to simplify the customer journey. In fact, 57% of French people say they carry out their research online before going to the store(5).

In this constantly evolving context, retailers must be attentive to customer expectations in order to implement these initiatives. This is why it is vital for them to equip themselves with tools to measure customer satisfaction in real time.

Measuring satisfaction, a key issue in rethinking the customer journey

Now more than ever, listening to the customer's voice is a real opportunity to synchronize with their new needs. In order to rethink the customer journey, and adapt it to the realities of the pandemic, it is crucial for retailers to capture customer satisfaction in real time and understand its sources.

In order to help our customers measure customer satisfaction in real time, across an entire retail network, Sia Partners' Data Science team has developed Deep Review. This artificial intelligence solution collects and analyses thousands of online reviews across retail networks, compares them within a single brand or with competing brands, and identifies satisfaction trends according to different themes. A way for organizations to reinvent their customer experience and respond to new requirements related to the health crisis.

Dashboard Deep Review

For example, this solution has made it possible to highlight customer pain points in several supermarket networks in the Paris region, post-lockdown. The theme of hygiene appears in 11% of online reviews, with a positive opinion rate of 76%. Similarly, waiting time is found in 9% of online reviews, this time with only 58% of positive reviews. The challenge for retailers will therefore be to identify and prioritise recurring themes of dissatisfaction in order to adapt their customer experience appropriately.

Never before have data and initial insights into consumer trends been so important. The information that can be gathered in real time from customer data, both during and after the crisis, allows organizations to make relevant operational decisions about their customer experience. The anxious climate caused by Covid-19 requires companies to address customer needs that were reinforced by the pandemic: reassuring the consumer about their return to points of sale, and simplifying the experiences offered through digitalization and mastering of new technologies.