Inside the (un)Panel

The first rule of (un)Panel is that YOU are the panelist. Everyone participates, providing perspective about the trends, opportunities, and challenges you face. Over the past two weeks, we’ve toured through Boston and New York, spreading customer experience insights and the good word of relevance. These unPanels have provided the clearest picture of what’s happening in retail, as well as what’s to come, thanks to the voices of leading brands and retailers. 

One reason I love the unPanels is that I learn so much more from you, the unpanelists, than you do from all the research we share! And for that—a massive thanks. I’d also like to extend a special kudos to the brand spotlight leaders, Jurgen Nebelung and Natalie Lodwig, for sharing your stories of humanized and data-driven customer experiences.

Here’s a brief glimpse into what we learned during this latest round of unPanels:

Emerging channels are still, well, emerging

We hit on all the buzz-worthy tactics and channels, though the audience was tempered in response, clearly emphasizing that there is no silver-bullet approach for attracting and engaging customers. The stalwart marketing channels, like social, SEM, and email, remain trusted and reliable, while investments towards broadening SMS and influencer programs aren’t generally expected to hockey-stick anytime soon, according to our unpanelists.

Service-led retail is the next frontier

For far too long, we have ignored the front-line teams that are engaging most with our shoppers. Service, including call center agents and store associates, is the true 1:1 channel, but has been a data desert for far too long. Our unpanelists expressed commitment to putting data into the hands of service agents and implementing proactive outreach. This shift to service-led retail is creating “agents of relevance”—service agents empowered to personalize the customer experience through the use of customer data and insights. By bringing relevance into the service experience, brands can deliver more intimate experiences, especially for shoppers that are showing strong intent, but have not yet purchased. 

Data is no longer just a dream

The unpanelists overwhelmingly displayed a data fluency that, candidly, is the most advanced and genuine that I have seen over the past few years. At a time when the digital footprint is deeper and wider than ever, transforming data into relevant experiences is becoming a reality. Gone are the days when brands and retailers merely wish for great access to data. These unpanelists are collecting, acting upon, and, maybe most importantly, stewarding customer data across their organizations. 

Looking for the insights shared from Zaius, Zendesk, and Swym? Check out the recap from Scott at Metric Digital (thanks Scott!).

We’re hosting unPanels across the country. Want to join us? Sign this guest list and we’ll let you know when we’re in your neighborhood. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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