Do Customers Prefer a Personable or Tech-Filled Experience?
Consider your last tech-ridden experience at a place of business. Where electronics ran the show, and you were squarely in the passenger seat, along with any employees who may or may not have been present. How did the experience make you feel? We're guessing it ranged somewhere between super cool, and oddly unsettling – with technology there can be a huge gap of perception. Sometimes it's awesome and impressive and customers can't get enough. Other times it just gets in the way and actually takes away from their experience. Unless you're able to walk that line – while still keeping devices running properly (if they aren't working, after all, it's a huge nuisance) – you're better off without them in the first place.
The Argument Against Tech
Though electronics can make life easier, they are no replacement for the personal touch of a human employee. People can correspond, they can understand frustrations, and they can empathize or get excited about triumphs. None of these emotions can be felt or expressed by a machine. Yet they are an important part of a customer's experience. Even though customers might want to test something out or see what all a form of electronics can accomplish, a machine still can't directly access all their wants or needs.
Ever tried reasoning with a phone recording? How well did that work out? Much like these pre-determined choices, computers are set for a specific range of outcomes. Unless a person's issue (or want) falls within that criteria, they're going to have a hard time being helped. The interaction is going to take twice as long, and it will cause an immense amount of frustration.
Besides, companies can all purchase the same (or a similar) computer program. Which means that their experience will be almost identical, no matter were they send their business. However, personalities range across the board – workers offer a unique and satisfying transaction – even if money isn't exchanged and it's strictly an informational visit.
Can They Have Both?
Maybe. When companies ensure their electronics are working correctly, and that there are plenty of people to back up their technology, customers might enjoy a combination of experiences – where tech meets the in-person helper.
With as much as we rely on the Internet, etc. to run day-to-day operations, we can certainly argue that we can't work without machines. The key is to finding a relevant balance between the two. Some types of businesses might only need electronics to run credit cards or keep bookwork, while the rest is left to good old-fashioned employees. Others might have an entire gimmick that involved new apps, fully charged phones, and any new type of tech that might be released.
When in Doubt, Ask!
If you aren't sure which route your customers will prefer, you can always ask. Talk with other franchisees in similar markets to see what type of failures or successes they've had. You can also find out if they have advice – whether for what you should or shouldn't do through tech. Talk to the franchising company themselves, or reach out to others in the area, even if they are outside of your industry.
By taking a thorough survey of what customers want, you can gain a better understanding of best tech practices. This is a great opportunity to implement business-savvy programs, without wasting time on those that don't live up to expectations. Then, when all your research is combined you can benefit from a well-rounded approach with better business electronics.