Digital businesses understand that customer experience is their only differentiator. It’s no longer enough to offer great products or services – now you must also offer great experiences.
There’s power shift to the customer
Traditionally, the way we served customers was fairly standardised, with attempts at customer centricity often sabotaged by internal silos that created disconnected sales, marketing and service functions.
New Social, Mobile, Analytical and Cloud (SMAC) technologies have opened up a world of information and competition, causing a power shift away from manufacturers and suppliers and toward customers.
Your customers have been changed by these technologies – their expectations are higher and it’s easier for them to shop around. The personalised experiences they get from Amazon and Spotify are now “normal”, and we’re expected to provide this level of service anytime, anywhere and on any device.
Nowadays, a digital business puts the customer experience first. It works hard to understand the different needs of increasingly diverse customers and offer the experiences that each individual customer demands.
Going digital puts the customer first
Technology helps us create experiences so that your customers are now:
1. Less reliant on you for information because so much is available online. Today, customers are on average 57% of the way through a purchase before even engaging with a supplier
2. Spoilt for choice with instant access to more suppliers, products and pricing options online. The internet makes it easy for new global, niche and disruptive competitors to lure your customers away.
3. Flooded with information and options, making it take longer to research and select products. Customers are gravitating toward solutions that are described in their language about their needs – rather than selling product features and benefits.
4. Already purchasing online – Nielsen research has shown that 1.9 million New Zealanders now shop online (that’s 56% of the population) and the average annual transactions per customer has increased to 11 – up 58% in two years.
5. Increasingly mobile as consumers, according to Neilsen with 41% of smartphone owners and 58% of tablet owners using their device to make purchases. Google shows that a massive 71% of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience.
6. Increasingly mobile in business, with Google saying that 90% of executives use smartphones to research for business purposes, 14% making a direct purchase because of it – and 34% who didn’t purchase because of a non-mobile friendly interface.
7. Demanding more variety of interaction than ever before – from digital natives who want an online and mobile experience, to baby boomers who don’t trust technology and want to deal face-to-face in store. Each customer expects their own desired balance of physical and digital.
8. Wanting personalised experiences that are tailored for them, based on knowledge about their preferences and previous behaviour. Marketing today is expected to be relevant and provide on insightful recommendations.
9. Better connected to each other and able to share information more readily than ever before. Consumers are more likely to purchase based on social media recommendations, with 88% trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Corporate customers seek out referrals and case studies online and on social networks.
10. Demanding better, more reliable service because they have come to expect instant access to what they want, when they want it. Great customer service is available 24×7, engaging, personalised and offers self-service.
How to provide a digital customer experience
To win in the age of the customer, you need to invest in customer experience as a discipline within your organisation and provide the best experience, not just the best product.
That means you must:
- Understand your customers and really learn what they want from you today, as well as what they value from suppliers in general. This may signal an opportunity to give them a new, desirable experience. Disruptive innovators often enter (and take over) industries by offering a unique experience to that market based on existing technology
- Offer engaging experiences from start to finish, with options for customers to interact with you in the ways that work best for them. The best customer experience journeys are consistent, insightful and personal.
- Provide consistently good service across all interactions that your customers have with you. Make sure you deliver the right service for the medium; customers have different expectations of in-person, online, mobile and social interactions.
- Win the hearts of your customers and you will win their minds. Technology has opened up new methods and approaches, but success comes down to connecting to your customers on an emotional level.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This is the third story is in a series of six articles about 5 areas of focus to survive in a digital world.
About the author
David Reiss, Propositions Manager, Spark Digital
Follow David on LinkedIn for his regular posts on digital transformation, disruption and innovation.
10 ways technology has changed the customer experience
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