Digital transformation is popping up in many unexpected ways today. It’s impacting even routine transactions, like buying a doughnut.

Recently I was in a trendy urban food court and was attracted to a display of sinfully rich-looking gourmet doughnuts. I’m not typically a doughnut buyer, but these were particularly difficult to pass by and the salesperson behind the counter convinced me to try one, even though all I really wanted was a cup of coffee.

What happened next started a simple but effective digital cascade of customer engagement I believe is helping this up-and-coming vendor win over customers and build brand loyalty.

“I can swipe your card right here. Would you like an e-receipt?” the salesperson said, holding up an iPhone with a Square scanner. “OK here’s my card, and yes, e-receipt please.” I’d like to think that, in that split second, I determined that heading to the register at the other end of the counter to pay cash was inefficient, and that the e-receipt would be a good way to capture an incidental expense. However, I believe I reacted mostly to the convenience of transacting “in the moment.”

About 15 minutes later after consuming what was indeed an exceptional doughnut, my mobile phone email lit up with the promised receipt together with a clever request for feedback: “We hope you enjoyed your doughnut.  Please tell us about your overall experience with us.” I was presented with the simple option to click one, two or three smiley face emojis to express my level of satisfaction. Perfectly timed to get an honest assessment, I clicked three and hit “send.” Instantly I received another email thanking me for my feedback with a coupon for 50% off my next purchase.

So, what happened? The credit card transaction with expressed permission for a receipt triggered a digital relationship opportunity for the vendor -- one that was executed particularly well. Will I visit this shop again? The odds just got a lot greater in favor of the vendor. Let’s see why and break this down:

  • Attractive physical display, high-traffic location. These are the basics for brick and mortar retail success.
  • Friendly salespeople trained to encourage digital transactions. While not only convenient for the customer, this provides the vendor with an opportunity for a digital relationship with their customers—while reducing the risk of a cashbox on site.
  • Off-the-shelf technology. Providing iPhones equipped with Square scanners to facilitate sales is easy to implement and manage.
  • Perfect timing. Receiving the follow-up receipt 15 minutes after making the purchase was critical in this case. It would not have been effective hours later as the “experience” would not have been fresh in my mind.
  • Customer feedback. The vendor did not miss the opportunity to capture the level of their customer’s satisfaction in a simple, nonintrusive way.
  • Gamification. While it’s not elaborate, the “click the emojis” was a perfect approach for the simple transaction of buying a doughnut and coffee.
  • Reward action, and build loyalty. The vendor generated an opportunity for repeat business with the e-coupon, while rewarding the customer for providing feedback.

The tactics used and lessons learned here can be applied to any business looking to improve how they combine physical presence with digital presence to improve customer experience. This clever vendor sought first to understand their customer’s purchasing journey, and then deployed a sales and digital strategy to engage the customer, build a positive relationship with their brand and encourage repeat business.

More and more businesses are discovering that digital innovation does not require complex or expensive solutions to achieve meaningful impact and results, and they can be applied to many types of transactions, large or small. We’d like to hear from you about other examples of digital innovation in action.

Send me your thoughts at pbonington@dprism.com.