Innovation, transformation and user experience go hand in hand in 2017, in light of several recent studies published by consulting firms like Forrester and Accenture.
The connection between these concepts is strong because, as the latter explains in “Digital Disconnect in Customer Engagement”, a large percentage of consumers still turn to the physical world to establish relationships with brands, indicating that–for some reason–such physical, concrete relationships outweigh the digital experience, at least for the time being and in certain circumstances.
What is surprising in this study is that the assertion encompasses not only older consumers, but also many Millenials.
If we consider the study in further detail, we can conclude that there is a common denominator in this preference for physical reality: personalized attention and the emotional side of the human world, present in a physical store; these are perceptions that many consumers find difficult to replace in the digital ecosystem.
That is why improving the customer experience (Cx) in the digital channel has become a vital concern for brands. In fact, 63% of brands are increasing their efforts in this field, according to Accenture.
All with the aim of offering comfortable, new and attractive user experiences that reduce the dependency on the physical world and, whenever possible, improve the conventional customer journey, optimizing and taking advantage of all the possibilities technology has to offer in connection with our customers.
Once technological maturity has been reached, brands have come to recognize that technology can generate growth margins through customer satisfaction, apart from contributing to reducing costs or creating loyalty in certain groups like Millenials, simply because they are digital natives.
Ultimately, the point is to offer users added value, above and beyond the product or service they buy. Adapting to a digital environment where competition is multiplying is also important, with concepts like non-ownership gaining significance and sectors diversifying and crossing formerly unassailable boundaries, entering business areas that used to seem inaccessible.
Today more than ever, having a client is like having a treasure, to whom we offer different products and services, and in a way that would have seemed impossible before. We’re even talking about products that belong to other industries and sectors. For example, now you can use a supermarket like a cash machine, or buy digital services through a mobile phone operator.
In summary, globalization has given us very different consumer profiles, but they share some common traits that can be worrying for brands. Among them is the fact that they are less predictable and less loyal, because they have such a wide spectrum of offers to choose from.
For example, again according to Accenture: 52% of consumers in the US changed at least one service provider last year because they perceived they were receiving bad service.
Accepting that consumers are volatile, and that their profitability can be much greater over time than was foreseeable with traditional models (because we can offer products in the future that we might not even envisage today) involves understanding that earning customer loyalty is essential, because if they have a positive perception of the brand they will trust it when they purchase new products or services that carry the brand’s name.
For all these reasons, it is crucial to work on the so-called “loyalty loop” for users (buy-use-recommend-bond), by listening to their needs and their identification with the brand, even allowing users to participate in the construction of the brand and, as one of the key objectives, eliminating the step defined as “reconsider-buy another similar brand” from the conventional “purchase loop”.
Resources like ideas crowdsourcing with clients allow brands to open up to users, and to have an impact on all the phases of the customer journey, creating a lasting relationship between client and brand that is based on transparency, trust and two-way listening.
Also, co-creation with clients allows brands to gather innovative business ideas from consumers themselves. Ideas that have to do with real demands, or reflect fluctuations in the market. Ideas crowdsourcing with clients can also be implemented in a digital environment, in an asynchronous and distributed manner, ensuring the best possible user experience and conforming to four main aspects defined by Harvard Business Review: automation, customization, contextual interaction and continuous innovation.
Finally, let us highlight the fact that this openness with consumers depends on the willingness shown by brands themselves, who must adapt their global culture. In this regard, both consulting firms mentioned above agree on the need to implement internally what we proclaim externally.
Co-creating, breaking down silos, and sharing–even outside the organization’s perimeter–are concepts that must be on the agenda for companies that want to make the “experience” their hallmark. The final objective is to pay special attention to the experience of employees, clients or citizens, if we are talking about a city. As expressed by Accenture: “digital is not disruptive, but human beings are”.
Pilar Roch. CEO ideas4all Innovation