Digital Connect: How can brands meet consumers’ great expectations?

Tim Mason, CEO of Eagle Eye at the company’s recent event, Digital Connect

New research from Eagle Eye reveals that retailers and restaurants are failing to take advantage of widespread mobile phone-use to enhance the customer experience

The smartphone is an almost omnipresent feature in our lives. The days of using our mobile purely to make calls are a quaint reminder of the past. The impact of the digital revolution means we can now carry our music, maps, banking, dating, online shopping and restaurant advice in one hand. But once we get to the door of a store or restaurant, all digital enablement stops. As Tim Mason, CEO of Eagle Eye discussed at the company’s recent event, Digital Connect; it’s time that brands harnessed the power of mobile to enhance customer experience on-site. Brands must digitise if they hope to stay relevant to today’s connected customer.

The rise of mobile: All play and no work

Consumers constantly have their phone in their hand, their pocket, or on the table. This offers businesses a huge opportunity to connect with customers directly and in real-time. Photo sharing on smartphones via Wi-Fi means organisations are now privy to a consumer’s location and habits, which can be used to create personalised communications. Instead of relying on the guesswork of the past, widespread smartphone use gives businesses accurate information on each customer which can help close the gap between what the customer wants and what the brand delivers.

However, Eagle Eye’s new consumer research shows that brands are failing to tap into this crucial channel in shops and restaurants. While 60% of consumers are using their mobiles as they walk around a store, hardly any report actually engaging with the retailer. This is particularly true of 16-24 year-olds, who use their phone to send messages and make calls (48%) and check social media (37%), but rarely to locate a product in-store (17%) or pay (15%). The same is true for restaurants, with young millennials frequently on their phone for personal use: taking photos of friends or their food (37%). In contrast, just 16% had redeemed a promotion and even fewer (10%) had paid for a bill via their mobile.

An appetite for digital

There is a huge opportunity to take advantage of phone use to enhance customer experience, so why are so few retailers and restaurants utilising this key channel? The roadblock isn’t customer attitudes. Eagle Eye statistics showed that over two thirds (68%) of consumers are keen to receive mobile promotions while out shopping and, over half said they would consider downloading an app which made it easier to pay and redeem promotions in restaurants.

At Digital Connect, Tim Mason said that brands are suffering a digital disconnect when it comes to customer experience. Digital-savvy consumers are open to interacting with shops and restaurants via their mobiles, but businesses are failing to take advantage of this opportunity.

The dawn of casual dining

In the past, using a mobile in restaurants might have been considered rude. However, in today’s fast-paced society, where we manage more and more of our lives via our smartphones, even dining out isn’t exempt. Eagle Eye results revealed a rise in more casual dining, with frequent diners often using their phone in a restaurant. Regular diners (more than once a week) were significantly more likely to use social media (32% versus 14%) than rare diners (less than once a month).

Attitudes towards dining are evolving in today’s digital age. As dining out moves from a special occasion to a more casual affair, smartphones are becoming more commonplace. It’s now time for brands to make use of this key channel to create the connected experience that customers are ready for and expect.

The future is now

Businesses everywhere are in the grips of digital transformation. With younger shoppers and diners paving the way into a smartphone-led society, it won’t be long before more brands in the retail and dining world take note. Soon, customers won’t just be using their smartphone to peruse social media as they shop or wait for their food; they will be an active part of the experience.

Digital creates an improved customer experience and brings immediate benefits for the business including invaluable consumer data. Only through data can businesses get to know their customers as individuals and actually give them what they want, not what they think they want. Consumers have great expectations; it’s time retailers and restaurant-owners lived up to them.

To download Eagle Eye’s research, ‘Great Expectations: The Connected Customer’ please click here

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.