Have you realised that in the ‘not-so-distant’ past, all it needed for brands to create a good ‘customer experience’ was to simply make the goods ‘available’ at the store?
And as for the customers, even those who lived on the outskirts of the town, they too happily obliged in taking a 30 minute ride (longer time if travelling farther), into the next ‘big town’, spent the day shopping in stores for consumables and other goods, then returned home with a big smile on their face and referred to it as having a great shopping experience!
How about today? Would you go through that drill to buy your groceries, or do some shopping? I highly doubt it, because today we live in a different world.
A world where you can shop for your groceries, clothes, shoes, furniture, electronics, infact, almost everything under the sun, all from your ‘smart phone’ or hand held device, and have them delivered to your doorstep.
A world where competition is so intense that when you walk down the aisle at your convenience store that says 'dairy', you’ll find an abundance of different brands of ‘milk’, all vying for your attention.
A world where it’s okay to ‘NOT’ pay for the pizza that arrived a tad late of the allotted delivery time. And did I mention, you can actually return the TV set after a week and get a full refund if you don’t like it? Yes, a world where ‘Customer is God’ and ‘Customer Experience’ is key to a brands’ survival and success!
The 2016 Digital Marketing Trends Report confirmed ‘Customer Experience’ (CX) to be the most exciting opportunity for businesses, and Gartner data also suggests CEOs believe better CX to be the key change, driving more wins for their organisations.
Take the race of big brands like Apple and PayPal to provide a seamless mobile checkout experience for customers . They’re already riding on this new ‘competitive edge’ and boosting their conversion rates. Similarly, giants like Facebook has recently bought VR company Oculus for $2 billion, to offer a more engaging experience to its audience.
The purpose clearly seems to be ‘raising that customer service bar to exceed consumer’s expectations’. As a matter of fact, a study from Walker suggests that by 2020, Customer Experience (CX) will surpass Price and Product as the key brand differentiators.
Let’s explore some of the trends we can look out for, which will dictate the ‘Customer Experience’ of tomorrow:
1. Immediate Gratification – Right here right now!
The customers’ attention span is lower than that of a gold fish and they are running out of patience. Their voice is loud and clear, “If you cannot deliver now, we’ll find someone who can”.
A Salesforce study has concluded that 64% of consumers and 80% of business buyers expect real-time responses. It’s the consumers who dictate their buying experience and not the other way round.
Disruptions in digital technology, communication interfaces and agile purchasing processes have ushered a 24/7 ‘on demand’ consumer culture, giving rise to the expectation of a speedy delivery of products and services. Brands such as Uber, Amazon, Zappos, etc., have been the forerunners in this regard and many others, such as GLAMSQUAD (hair styling), Rubicon (garbage pickup) and Bloom That (flower delivery), are also following the trend.
It seems future customers are looking even further than ‘immediate gratification’. The Communications Company says, “We must be able to predict what the customers want next. In 2020, customers will expect firms to be ahead of them, knowing what they need, before they themselves have shown the need”.
Companies will be expected to continually anticipate the needs of consumers at each stage of the Buyer’s Journey, and respond proactively.
2. Extreme Convenience
Yes, we’re getting lazier by the day. We expect businesses to provide us with a hassle-free, smooth and swift service on the fly, whenever and wherever we feel like, via whichever devices we’re holding at the time of purchase. Oh, and we’ll go for the best quality with lowest prices.
Companies such as Amazon are already competing on the ‘convenience’ card. The company has moved quickly ahead to whet our appetite for extreme convenience with its many innovative services like; Amazon Prime, Amazon Fresh, Amazon Go, etc.
Check out the video below from Amazon on the ‘Amazon Go’, which is revolutionising the concept of ‘self-service’ and the shopping experience:
Amazon Go is a convenience store, without any checkout counters. With their ‘just walk out’ technology and an App on your phone, you can enter the store, select what you need and simply walk out. There are no long lines at the cash counter, no payment, but a seamless shopping experience. The goods you take will be automatically tracked on a virtual cart and you’ll be charged on your Amazon account when you leave the store.
Time is of great value to all of us and consumers will be most appreciative of brands like Amazon, who is helping them save it. We are also aware of other companies including Amazon who are already taking this ‘convenience’ game to new heights through drone deliveries, bringing goods closer and faster to consumers.
Every customer loves to feel ‘special’, rather than receiving a ‘one size fits all’ solution to their problems.
We’re already receiving personalised experience from marketing teams and brands alike. Whether it be via a personalised email that speaks to us with reference to our previous interactions with the site/brand, to deals and offers that are uniquely tailored to our personal needs, to shoes designed and crafted to fit the dimensions of our feet. Customised solutions to our personal needs is a crucial trend emerging to entice the future consumers.
To provide such customer-centric, intelligent and customised solutions, brands need to adapt and evolve with more sophisticated CRM systems and analytical software that translate user data, in order to gain deeper insights into the needs of the customers.
Social media, community forums, and other networking platforms and online communities will be key in understanding the pulse of consumers and also provide a more proactive and focused solution on an individual level.
As an example, consider this... Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk demonstrated brilliantly how a brand can find opportunities in personalised communication and turn it into a massive advantage for both the brand and the consumers.
A Tesla owner had complained about fellow consumers hogging spots at a Charging Station in San Mateo, by tweeting the complaint to Elon. Within minutes Elon replied with a promise to take action:
Within six days of the incident, Tesla responded with a new policy on their website, indicating that an ‘idle fee’ charge of $0.40 will apply to owners who occupy the Supercharger spots for every additional minute, even after the car is fully charged.
Such ‘lightning execution’ is what the customers will get and expect with their experience with brands in the future.
In the digital spaces of tomorrow, with more empowered consumers, customer expectations will be even greater, and brands will need to be on their game and put more muscle into their Customer Experience Strategies to stay afloat the ebb and flow of this digital evolution!
If you'd like further assistance or would like to discuss anything covered today, we'd love to hear from you.
Call Andy Fox (me) on (03) 5249 5570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Website is element7digital.com.au