More than half of the companies named on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000. When you look at consumer data, the average person is exposed to 10,000 brand messages per day. Attention spans have dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over the last 15 years.  With this accelerated pace of change and audience fragmentation, you have to lead or die.  Fast followers will fail. 

Despite what we know about human needs/desires and business opportunity, few companies truly give customers a seat at the table.   While business's lament the unfair dynamic Amazon has created, their mission state is to be the earth's most customer-centric company. As of 2017, Amazon was named No. 1 in corporate reputation in a Harris Poll with over 23,000 votes.

While there are several customer-focused tool kits out there like Medallia, nothing beats actually baking costumer-centricity into your DNA.  Some try to do this by adopting design thinking, but too frequently companies approach design thinking as either a one-off or quarterly exercise and fail to embed customer-centric strategies in the day to day operating model.  This is more of a cultural challenge that people realize, and it requires, in part, the willingness and enthusiasm to spend at least 25 percent of your time in the presence of your customer.  Not just listening but engaging, learning and asking why.  Surveys usually don't get to the why.  It is critical to get these three things right:

  • Give customers multiple vehicles or outlets to provide unstructured feedback.  
  • Empower employees with mechanisms to provide personalized customer experiences.
  • Design a system to share feedback especially the negative, and turn pain points into opportunities.

These opportunities can then fuel innovative customer experiences.  New research from Forrester's Customer Experience Index reveals that hybrid customer experience outperforms both purely digital and purely physical experiences.  Several retailers have designed stellar experiences in this space, like Sephora and Uniqlo, and there has been a lack of persistent innovation in other industries and sectors (perhaps because they haven't had an Amazon-like wake-up call yet).

According to a study by Harvard Business Review 86 percent of business leaders agree that customer experience is vital for success, so the question is, what can you do this year to move the needle?

On-Demand

Whether it is catching a ride with Didi Chuxing in China or binge watching media on Netflix, virtually worldwide, our expectation is on-demand commerce and entertainment.  There is no exception.

Voice Is the New UI

Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and other virtual assistants, like  Soul Machines harness developments in voice recognition and even provide humanoid interfaces. Determine what is best for your brand and embed voice into your experience.

Perpetual Flow

The traditional rules of day-parting no longer apply.  Consumers switch screens up to 21 times in one hour.  While we talk a lot of agility in product development, we need agile communications and customer experiences that could allow someone to save for later or show me tomorrow.  If I receive the most compelling message for a brilliant product while I am on a deadline, guess what, I will ignore or delete it.

So get to know your customers, really.  To win in the post-channel era of today we must adopt a customer-first mindset and put the customer at the center of everything we do.

Published on: Feb 27, 2018