Phygital (physical + digital) work started as a marketing term that describes blending digital experiences with physical ones.
As the channels of customer interaction and communication proliferate, companies aim to make combining these channels frictionless and seamless, enabling a customer to make a phone call, then communicate in a social media platform, then send an email, without the company losing the thread of the communication or a sense of the customer issues associated with the customer account record.
The term is now being used in the workplace by architects and interior designers as they design the spaces for mobile and transformational companies.
Sometimes referred to as an omnichannel customer experience, companies now have a mandate to bridge this gap to reduce customer friction, frustration and churn. Phygital experiences can add value by enhancing physical experiences with information but augmenting digital experiences with human connections or physical enhancements. Companies may use marketing automation software to send personalized messages to customers in email, via SMS text or on social media, among other options.
Consider the impact of beacon technology, which can identify a customer in a particular aisle, and combine his mobile identity with his online identity to potentially identify that he has certain items abandoned in his shopping cart online. The customer could then be sent messaging about where to find similar items in the store. By combining environments through data, phygital experiences ultimately augment the value of each domain. Phygital blending often benefits from geolocation information that indicates where a customer is located in a store or in its environs. Similarly, wearable devices can pinpoint a customer’s location and send and receive data with recommendations, alerts or other personalized information.
Some airlines now use social media to create phygital experiences, where they become aware that a passenger is traveling on the airline, then greet the passenger in the airport and present him with a gift from loyalty points. With the Internet of Things ( IoT), sensors may be able to proactively detect that a car or refrigerator needs service and send a technician without requiring a customer to even schedule an appointment. Retail stores are also piloting devices such as “smart mirrors,” which may make other outfit suggestions or provide information on other colors and sizes once a tag is scanned.
These kinds of developments not only bridge the gap between the digital and the physical but also enable companies to provide proactive, unique. These right-place, right-time interactions are designed to predicatively engage customers and serve needs or provide up-selling opportunities. At the same time, some of these experiences can easily verge into the intrusive or “creepy” realm if customers aren’t comfortable with the way or kind of data a company uses to create these experiences.