“Digital and physical formats will be increasingly interlinked with one another in the near future”: and we can believe it to be true, if the one to say so is Paolo Mariottini, VP of Sales South Europe Middle East & Africa for Genesys, a company specialised in providing solutions for new generation customer experiences.  

The pandemic completely changed the lives of each one of us, and as consumers we learned to trust in the internet when making our purchases, with a strong acceleration in the use of digital technology in all fields and in all sectors. Now, however, with a return to normality, we are witnessing a new need for physical contact also in shopping, characterised by the pleasure of physically going to the store, while touching garments and accessories with our own hands, and exchanging ideas and opinions with sales staff… however, it is not just a simple return to the past. This is because – according to Mariottini – today’s consumers come into contact with companies in several different ways, with increasing mention being made of the ‘omnichannel’. As a consequence, the customer experience has become increasingly ‘phygital’, with digital and physical channels increasingly associated and integrated with one another. For this reason, it more important now than ever before to create interesting and engaging purchasing experiences, while making the digital experience increasingly human-scale and close to the needs of the customer. “From a study we undertook, it emerges that around 70% of consumers polled associated the quality of a brand’s service with the quality of the brand itself” – confirms Mariottini. And so, what emerges is a kind of ‘digital empathy’: “Not everything can be digitalised; even if I’m online, I need someone on the other side to be interested in my needs and willing to satisfy my demands, while offering rapid solutions to my needs that are as personalised as possible”. Customers feel the need to be listened to and understood, like they were in the past at their most trusted stores. “Empathy generates trust and trust generates loyalty”. Empathy, communication, and connected experience are accordingly the key words. “If you have a customer who believes in what you do and who is loyal to you, it will allow you to acquire additional customers. Digital word of mouth is essential, for better or for worse, because also negative reviews are blown up by the internet”. 

One aspect that is implicated by this change is the fact that consumers are no longer afraid to share their personal data, because by now they understand that it is this data that makes the creation of a personal and customised purchasing experience possible. 

Finally, let’s not forget – underlines Mariottini – that the first contact consumers often have with a company is with one of its employees, and for this reason it is important to always place the person (consumer or employee) in a central place of importance, in a sort of ‘empathy ecosystem’.