Does anyone have customer experience all figured out? Five takeaways from SXSW

Jonathan Lovatt-Young

With a laser focus on the connected car and next generation retail (and huge plates of nachos) I went in search of who has the customer experience all figured out at SXSW.

A trend surfaced quickly – it’s emerging and we’re far from the elusive silver bullet with everyone still trying to figure it out. Here’s my top five takeaways from day one:

1. From ‘Designing your future with the connected car’, the focus on concept generation took a typical user needs path. The new news? Use giant props to create photographic storyboards – it’s easy to digest, engaging and most of all super fun. Maybe user journeys as we know them need a reboot.

2. For in-store, be completely transparent on your data policy and make it sexy so people accept it and there’s a clear value exchange. From ‘Beacons, mPay and the great shopper reboot’ we learned personal and anonymised data should be kept quite separate, even so far as to have separate servers in different physical locations. Don’t let the two mix.

3. As discussed at ‘Content marketing vs. Don Draper: The end of ads’, the internal organisation needs to change to accommodate content marketing, ensuring consistency across channels.

Consumers are influenced by blogs and the shift of trust from editors to trusted review sources means it’s everyone's responsibly to deliver the service of the organisation as it’s so transparent. I wonder how many traditional retail organisations are developing their operating model, job descriptions and training to make this change?

4. Data is the product. Interestingly Jennifer Hyman, CEO of Rent the Runway, talked about her first exec – a chief analytics officer. Data is the new gold and is the most precious asset for the business right through to its suppliers.

Designing your service with data at the heart drives product product development and by building predictive models, you arm the sales force with the correct propensity models that second guess what the consumer will do.

5.And finally, the big question on everyone's lips: how should stores configure themselves to compete? They need reinvention to deliver an experience that the consumer can't get online only – a significant change to the experience and services of today.

There’s a growing trend to turn these existing stores into customer service centres and distribution points, but £ revenue per sq. ft. just doesn’t add up when competing against pure plays.

The answer the panel at ‘Defining the Next Generation Retail Experience' gave was that stores of the future should think about the customer experience as one. There needs to be a hyper focus on customer experience so recommendations just for you are perfect and there is no handoff between channels as most operate today.

Jonathan Lovatt-Young is head of service and experience design at Tribal Worldwide. He tweets @naughtynorth

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