Tim Matthews, Senior Product Manager, TV and Visual Solutions for Vestel
In our increasingly digital world, interactivity has slowly become the connecting bridge between human interaction and the online sphere. In the AV industry, interactivity is double-edged, encapsulating how AV providers use digital signage to engage customers, and how consumers respond.
Today, we see interactivity at work in most spaces, from elevating a customer shopping experience through trigger-based content to boosting a visual experience through accompanying on-screen graphics for a sports match. What’s more, younger generations now expect interactivity to be available to them as a guide to what they should be doing and how they should be doing it, as they consume so much content through other digital technologies in their personal life. Most businesses have made the transition to digital to optimise their user experience but now, it is time to reconcile offline and digital by implementing immersive and interactive AV technology on-site to deliver an omnichannel experience.
The perfect trio of interactivity
When we consider interactivity from an AV point of view it can be easy to only consider touch and visuals. While there is no doubt both are important, interactivity goes so much further. It must also encapsulate audio, and emerging trends such as motion, to prioritise a completely immersive experience for customers. These two facets, alongside the essential base, hardware, create the perfect trio of interactivity.
People can underestimate the role AV technology will play in the future of traditional customer experience. Most in-person experiences such as retail stores, museums and stadiums have taken a considerable hit because of the pandemic restrictions, but as digitisation grows, these businesses must think of how they can bring the physical experience into the new digital age. High-quality visuals and the way customers can interact with them will no doubt be key to this. Taking retail as an example, we can clearly see how interactive displays can be used to optimise the visual customer experience while driving sales through product advertising in-store. If a customer sees a product they like on a screen they can click to see where this product is available in the store, creating a stress-free and easy-to-navigate shop. Evidently, visual effects and interactivity are intrinsically linked, however, this does not stop at just good digital signage.
Beyond visual: Light, motion, sensor!
There are two key ways businesses can take this to the next level. Firstly, by using sensors, businesses can put understanding the customer at the centre of their strategy which will lead to positive interactions. Most customer-facing businesses will know that a successful business is as much about cultivating a brand as it is about selling a good product or service, and both can be achieved by shaping the environment in which the customer finds themselves. By using sensors for voice, light, motion and temperature, businesses can have the ability to not only guide the consumer but shape their whole environment. For example, analytics can be implemented into AV technology that can determine what type of consumer is looking at the screen and suggest possible products of interest as a result. It’s a win-win, not only enhancing the customer experience by making it more personalised but also allowing retailers to leverage their in-store merchandise through screens, and eventually drive revenue growth. Furthermore, light sensors allow the AV technology to control brightness and energy consumption so information is always accessible and can be read, regardless of the external environment, such as natural light, or obscuring screens. It may seem simple but allowing customers to see clearly what’s available to them will make them much more likely to engage with a brand. Additionally, installing proximity sensors on the displays allows the brightness to be automatically lowered when no one is close by in order to save energy, which of course is not only great for saving costs but also great for the environment and demonstrates to consumers a commitment to keeping energy consumption as low as possible.
Sensors are also critical in this new age, where the Covid-19 pandemic has heavily influenced the way people engage with one another and spaces. Implementing motion sensors in retail spaces can help alleviate the increase in anxieties brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, by informing shoppers of the current footfall in-store so they can avoid busy periods if needed, thus demonstrating how businesses are prioritising customer welfare. By informing shoppers of the current footfall in-store they can avoid crowded stores, and additional sensors such as temperature and air quality sensors can allow businesses to monitor virus risk, so consumers feel safer and more comfortable.
Information for all
While sensors offer more depth to the interactive experience, it is important not to forget how crucial audio is. Language and voice technology are not commonly associated with AV screens, but it is integral to not only the success of customer engagement but also to create an inclusive environment that is accessible to all. Nearly half of the population worldwide today is bilingual, so multilingual availability is more important than ever before. Moreover, in spaces where multiple languages are being spoken, language functionality is invaluable to an optimised customer experience. In an airport for example, where passengers from any corner of the globe come together in one shared space, interactive screens with different language options allow for an inclusive experience with displays no matter their native language. Not only that, but according to a 2021 report it was found that not only was general customer satisfaction higher when multi-language options were available but also it was found to increase brand loyalty. Additionally, harking back to the retail space, using voice technology as the role of ‘greeter’ allows businesses to help customers upon arrival with any questions they may have, which in turn saves on training costs and frees up staff for deployment elsewhere in store.
Finally, having taken these two first points into consideration, the final step to the perfect interactive experience for a streamlined customer experience is hardware. Businesses need to be looking for the best hardware that is able to support their customer experience offerings. It is no use knowing about all these factors without being able to apply them. Finding an AV supplier that can provide a tailored and complete interactive offering is as much about optimising a customer’s experience as it is about boosting brand reputation.
As we look forward, businesses looking to offer the best customer experiences must realise the power that interactivity holds and how they can engage with it to their advantage. By tailoring interactive digital experiences with proper sensors and audio, businesses offer themselves the best chance of overall customer satisfaction. With the market ever-moving towards digital and every future generation expecting interactive digital signage as a baseline for all of their business experiences in all sectors, companies would do well to adopt and engage with the latest technologies available to expand and retain a loyal customer base. In essence, the perfect ingredients for a streamlined customer experience through interactivity boils down to three things: strong visuals, sensor technology and audio.