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2022: The Year of Hybrid Experience & What it Means for Customers

Mar 18, 2022   |   Business Growth, Speaking Our Minds
The year of hybrid experience and what it means for your customer

Hybrid experiences will be prevalent in 2022 for both employees and consumers, presenting incredible opportunities for growth for the businesses that master it. With hybrid experiences, organizations like yours can create more accessible and inclusive experiences for those who engage with them, thus expanding the range of customers you serve and the employees who serve them. It will also expand the pool of candidates you can tap into for employees, making it easier for you to hire the best person for the job, and not necessarily the best candidates who live or can relocate to your area.

We will explore what this hybrid shift means for organizations and different ways that you can tap into this trend.

What does this hybrid shift mean for your customers?

Click and collect in retail

From the customer perspective, we will see a rise in a variety of systems and services focused on convenience. Buying online and picking up in-store arrangements have been growing at a tremendous rate. Data suggests that the ‘click and collect’ rate will grow by an impressive 21 percent over 2022, which will equate to $101 billion in sales. That rate of growth will likely continue at nearly the same speed into 2023.

Customers appreciate this trend because it allows them to take care of the more time-consuming part of the shopping process from the comfort of their homes. They can browse desired products and even compare deals and bargains between stores before making their purchase. Then, instead of having to wait for shipping, they can pick up their desired items while running their typical errands.

Retail customers need to define and maintain curbside pickup and provide clear explanations and videos on the website to help people decide to use it.

Hospitality experiences

Restaurants and other hospitality businesses, such as spas or tourist destinations, can also work to create a hybrid experience by offering online reservations. Allowing customers to schedule their visits quickly and easily from their mobile devices can simplify the process for each of them.

Allowing them to see the open slots for appointments, schedule their visits, and compare different booking options that you offer can all enhance the experience offered to customers. The customers can browse reviews and compare different options and then book in a single interaction online. Milestone has helped hotels provide more experiential designs that engage and convert customers.

Hotels can digitize more of the event and experience information traditionally handled by the concierge and allow more people to self-guide. This will help both pre-booking and during their stays all in a more covid-safe way.

Tying the brick and mortar and online stores for hybrid shopping

An increasing number of businesses, including e-retail giant Amazon, have seen the benefits of also having in-person stores where customers can touch and inspect products personally, rather than relying on pictures. Customers also appreciate the benefits that come with online stores, such as looking at reviews to gauge the thoughts of other customers and looking at all the different options available.

Bringing these two together with features, such as showcasing popular online items in stores and using online reviews in stores to help guide in-person customers can all help improve the shopping experience. Customers can combine the benefits they receive from each type of experience, creating an effective and higher-converting interaction.

Milestone advises hybrid clients to centralize the data and distribute it to all the channels and points of interaction where it helps propel the customers on their journey.

How can you take hybrid to customer service and help?

Hybrid experiences will also dominate the customer service and help portions of your business model. Offering customers help sections, videos, and FAQs that help them find the answers to common questions allows them to find the answers they seek on their own. Forcing them to call when they would rather just read about the solution or watch a step-by-step video can hinder engagement and cause abandonment. Similarly, failing to provide phone support when they need direct assistance can drive people away. This hybrid structure for your customer support will create more satisfied customers.

This flexibility in your available customer service channels helps each customer find exactly what they need to solve the problem and help you create the best possible customer experience.

A recent Milestone poll showed 65% of marketers were investing or planned to invest more resources into FAQs, which can be used to create more virtual support and better help experiences.

How can you go hybrid with weddings, events, and conferences?

If you offer a facility for people to host a wedding, event, or a conference, then you need to also offer the ability to stream it while it takes place live. The pandemic has taught us how to engage with others, even when stuck in our homes. Even as restrictions end, people will still appreciate the convenience that comes with attending certain events remotely.

This approach can increase participation and help you boost attendance. People can now attend multiple important events happening close together. They can also participate without incurring unnecessary costs. For those who want the opportunities that come with in-person networking or engagement, however, those options would be available as well.

Milestone research on forecasted wedding and event RFPs in 2022.

Offering these services can help entice those who are looking to create a hybrid experience for their attendees. It will provide you with a greater capacity to attract customers.

Milestone advises hotel customers to provide video streaming services or at a minimum provide a list of local businesses who can as part of their wedding and events planning package.

What does the hybrid experience mean for your employees?

The virtual experience will not only tremendously impact the experiences of customers when engaging with your brand. It will also impact how your employees behave and management expectations. Creating a hybrid work environment can empower you to combine the benefits of remote work, such as work-life balance, with the value that comes with creating a strong workplace culture and taking care of tasks that cannot be done of remotely.

You will find that hybrid work culture can take a variety of forms. Here are some common ways you may experience it.

Hybrid in-office days

Hybrid in-office days allow employees flexibility on the days when they come into the office. Your business might establish a schedule where employees work two days in the office and three days from home, for example.

With a hybrid in-office setup, employees will still be responsible for hitting the same benchmarks and attending the same meetings as they had before, but they now do it from their home office. Zoom meetings become an important part of the day. A big advantage of the hybrid scenario is, however, that the employees do get the chance to get to know each other in person. That means the Zoom meetings become just one facet of communication instead of the core of personal interaction, creating a stronger work culture.

Companies meeting both virtually and in person

Your company work meetings can also allow in person and virtual options. This flexibility can make it easier for businesses with multiple offices to bring in important contributors from other areas without having to pay for flights. It also means that if a team leader has to travel for another assignment, they can still dial into the important meeting if they are needed. Similarly, employees on hybrid schedules can attend meetings that occur during their work-from-home hours.

Online training capabilities alongside in-person training

Online and in-person training can provide employees with an improved experience. Online opportunities to train can allow employees to do it from the comfort of their home office. If it includes pre-recorded videos, they can also manage the training with greater flexibility, taking care of it on their own schedule. In-person training can then help to show new hires around the office space or teach them how to use programs that cannot be accessed from remote computers or need the input of others on the team.

The pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 have thrown the professional world headlong into remote work and hybrid work situations. In 2022, however, businesses have begun to adapt and modify these arrangements for their advantage. This year will be dominated by hybrid work both for the benefit of customers and for advantages or employers and employees. See how you can incorporate these ideas into your business plans for the coming year.

Milestone increases acquisition by enhancing digital experience and increasing content visibility. Contact us at [email protected] or call us at 408-200-2211.

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