What is the beacons main benefit? Business opportunities are fleeting by nature. You need to be at the right place, at the right time, delivering a message in context, all the time.
Most of the customer journey today happens in a digital space. We live in a digital world, but at the same time, we buy tangible and physical products. A beacon can help us bridge those two worlds. At the end of the day, it seems that customers feel more comfortable interacting with things instead of other people. So bring that to them. Let things have a voice. Let things connect with your clients. Bring the T2C (Thing to Consumer) to life.
The Customer Journey evolution
I bought my first car in the mid-90s. Internet was quite different then; therefore, the purchase path was simple.
We recently bought a car for our daughter. Her customer journey was entirely different (see below):
The key difference between our generational journeys is that digital was the main stage for her journey. Another noticeable fact is that her decision was made close to 70% before she visited the dealer and most of that journey happened on a mobile device. One of the only reasons to visit a car lot was to test drive the vehicle i.e. to make a physical connection with the product. Until that time, the car was a virtual thing. The dealer, same as in my case years ago, was blind to the “before” time. So what has changed since then? Technology.
The T2C opportunity – connecting a real product to a virtual customer journey
One thing caught my attention. When we were at the dealer, I had the impression that the salesperson had the same polarity as us – magnet-wise. Whenever some of them tried to approach us, we moved in a different direction. We didn’t want, or weren’t ready yet, to speak with another person. In reality, most of the questions we asked later could have being answered by an online service. The problem was that there was a disconnection between the physical world and the digital realm.
In this context, mobile transforms the “Before, During, After” to “far away” and “close by”. And the close by is split into when you are outside the store, in front of the product or at the register. How would a beacon have helped in this case? A beacon can provide information, deliver customized messages, or trigger interactions in context. A beacon is at the right place, at the right time, all the time.
A beacon, for example, can retrieve and reinforce messages from traditional channels, and connect the previous and future interactions with a concrete and tangible product. Here, the beacon provides an excellent link between a particular product and the full customer journey. Seeing the car specs, reading reviews for a particular model, requesting an e-quote, or asking friends in social media what they think about this vehicle are just a few of the actions you can trigger in front of this product. It helps connect the dots.
A quick reflection
While it makes sense in some cases, I’m not saying here that we should eliminate the salesperson role. On the contrary. I’d argue that we can make the channel job much easier if we connect the customer’s digital journey with a here and now product, allowing the clients to approach the sales rep at the right time (for them).
Most of today’s customer journey happens in a digital space. Mobile devices act as a compass steering their digital journey to a tangible and physical product. A beacon can serve as the bridge to smoothly connect the digital realm to the physical world. Forcing that transition will have the same effect as pushing the customer to cross from one side to the other. It’s no wonder that without bridges, many deals end at the bottom of the cliff.