By Toby Collins, Aug 17 2015 03:24PM
History is littered with once dominant companies or industries that failed after not keeping up with the latest technological changes. Over the last few years, some of the biggest changes have been in communications and the delivery of product or services, most notably through the Internet and the recent growth of mobile device communications.
However, in utilising these technologies, care needs to be taken not to lose all human interaction and make the brand too remote resulting in weakened brand relationships. In our work, we have identified several trends that we have seen in consumer needs and behaviour across a number of industries and look at some of the ways that technology can improve the customer experience. A few of those trends are outlined below.
The well documented increase in the speed of consumer lives means that they want everything, and much more quickly. The Internet is the primary facilitator, allowing products and services to be purchased 24/7 at much lower cost than having a physical high street presence, and the growing use of in-store tablets or augmented reality help consumers make a better choice.
However the lower cost of entry does allow new competitors to enter markets, for example, Transferwise and the new banks are taking advantage of the better e-commerce platforms and lack of IT legacy issues. The increased competition means that website and app performance is critical, both functionally but also integrated with other platforms with access to more human contact, via telephone, online chat or for todays early adopters video chat (a 2013 American Express Service study demonstrated that a video chat increased the perceptions of great service and feeling loved).
Our full trends presentation highlights other key technological and service innovations that consumer are responding particularly well to and how those innovations improve emotional proximity to the brand.
For many years we have heard consumers say “as long as it is relevant to me, and at the right time” when talking about promotions or sales contacts. What we are hearing now is that consumers expect this of companies because of the information they have given to companies. This has implications for not only the smarter use of customer data, but more importantly in the capture of information, where expectations in some sectors are that in-store or phone conversations should to be recorded to personalise communications.
Two way conversation
One implication of the above is the need for faster, engaging and less overtly formulaic conversations, to ensure that the consumer feels valued. This includes not just social media, but turning all consumer contacts including traditional sales calls into genuine two-way interaction. Consumers tell us that their expectations of a good response time is now thought about in minutes or hours, rather than days.
This is especially important as the way that consumers complain has changed, with Facebook and Twitter amplifying dissatisfaction and enabling publically naming and shaming. Complaints procedures need to be addressed accordingly, as the typical letter response within 28 days will now often just result in the loss of a customer as delays and apparent silence or disinterest just builds up resentment.
While this article has only very briefly touched on a couple of issues, there are clearly implications for website and app usability, cross-function customer contact platforms, CRM, data-collection and management, social media, complaint resolution, retail experience, staff recruitment and training. To find out more information about these and other trends as well as the needs of consumers in your industry, please contact one of our partners, Mark or Toby.