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Best Buy is readying enhanced text communication in a quest to provide customers with greater information regarding product delivery via a seamless and frictionless interaction.

The electronics retailer, with the help of partner 3C Interactive, is tapping an emerging communication protocol — Rich Communication Services (RCS) — to go beyond today’s text capabilities.

Right now, Best Buy customers, who opt-in for messaging alerts, are pinged regarding delivery date and appointments with Geek Squad advisers.

With RCS technology Best Buy will be able to enhance that basic message with product images, maps for store pick-up and more details on purchases, explained Bill Worple, senior director, marketing technology, in a phone interview with Retail Customer Experience.

“We’re evaluating timing for next year,” said Worple.

Best Buy began working with 3C Interactive on an RCS strategy just over a year ago. The technology, which is viewed as the next generation of mobile messaging, has been evolving for years and emerging now that mobile telephone carriers and services providers are supporting the protocol.

Industry watchers expect RSC to eventually replace current SMS messages given the richer experience provided. It will allow retailers to better brand their messaging experience with customers, according to 3C Interactive.

“Today’s customer expects and demands a personalized and frictionless experience with their favorite brands or they will go somewhere else. The experience matters as much as price — especially for millennials. Those winning in the market today, like Best Buy, have been able to take their programs to the next level by incorporating mobile and creating timely and relevant touch-points throughout the customer journey,” Brian Heikes, vice president of product at 3Cinteractive, told Retail Customer Experience in an email.

Best Buy’s quest to enhance customer-focused messaging comes as retailers are striving to tap innovative technologies to boost customer experience, drive customer loyalty and beat the competition.

The decision to embrace RCS

As Worple explained, Best Buy’s decision to embrace RCS was pretty much a no-brainer given the retailer’s focus providing consumers with better insight and information regarding products and purchase.

“It’s a great new technology, but if we step it back and say ‘what are we trying to do for the customer,’ it’s more about delivering the right message and right information to a customer at the right time,” he said.

In embracing RCS the retailer needed to establish a strong strategy regarding goals and intentions, explained Worple.

“When we started taking a look at RCS initially, over a year ago, it was really framed up as a marketing vehicle to market promotions to customers as a way to sell more. But then, over the last year, as capabilities really started to evolve we started to grasp ‘Hey, where can our customers really use this,'” said Worple. “We know from work we’ve done in email that there is certain information that, if we can make it more accessible, makes it easier for the consumer. Then the customer satisfaction goes up and questions [to support regarding delivery, appointments] go down. Overall the customer experience with Best Buy gets better.”

Enriching the customer experience

This initial RCS effort is likely just a stepping stone as Best Buy will be investigating how the technology can be used to create new and different experiences.

“We have put some time into use cases but as we look at resources, and how we want to invest resources, we want to make sure we get enough reach,” said Worple.

Best Buy’s consumers are hungry for up-to-date insight on product delivery and tracking and current SMS messaging lets them know when a product is ready for pickup. But it doesn’t remind them of the store and its location, Worple said.

With RCS Best Buy will make product acquisition much smoother. For example, when a text alerts a consumer about an appointment it will allow users to share the appointment info in their smartphone calendar app.

“In-store pickup is very big for Best Buy, so if they [the shopper] finds what they want online and want to pick it up in store our text lets them know it’s ready for pickup. But sometimes customers don’t choose the right store [in the checkout process]. So simple things like not only telling them it’s ready but providing a picture of product, and an actual map creates confidence for the customer,” said Worple.

One prime reason retailers are likely to jump on the RCS wagon is the consumer love of all things mobile.

“The phone is so personal as you choose your communication and it truly has to appeal to customers or persons purchasing the service. That’s why we think RCS is so cool. It creates a lot of opportunity to make customers interactions with Best Buy easier and more seamless. That’s where we see the additional opportunities with RCS,” said Worple, adding that Best Buy isn’t viewing RCS as a tool to create a new business or new business model but a way to better facilitate interactions already taking place with consumers.

“Ten years ago the Best Buy experience was primarily an in-store retail experience and evolved to where in the last five years has been both an in-store and online experience. But it’s just not about the store or just about the website or about the Best Buy person coming into home., It’s all of those things together. It’s ‘how do I create a best buy experience that is seamless to customer’ and as you think about creating a seamless experience, across all those customer touch points, the one thing consistent is the mobile phone. RCS is another tool that helps us stitch that experience to create a better Best Buy experience.”

Judy Mottl

Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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