The connected customer in the land of plenty

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

The connected customer has been a key theme of many marketing campaign, eco-system redevelopment and digital product strategy for some time now. A connected customer is the idea that your customers are now ‘connected’.

They are cross-device operating, intelligent shoppers who browse, consider, purchase and shop in non-traditional ways.

They have the power to disrupt your shopping flow.

To survive in the age of the connected customer, its imperative that brands and companies offer a consistent experience across all platforms, and create experiences for their customers, in the right place and at the right time.

The Mobile Marketing Association

Recently I spoke at an MMA event about the ‘Connected Customer in the Land of Plenty’. The presentation hinged on the assumed fact that we’re all connected now and the mental models and technology that underpin the concept of everyone understanding how to use different devices is cemented in our culture. Brands that aren’t offering an experience to meet this behavioural norm ‘have’ already fallen behind.

The idea came to me when I drove my Mum, a 60 year Digital non-native to Curry’s to buy a printer. After asking for a demonstration of the one she’d targeted while browsing on her ipad, she walked away, got her phone out and had brought it on Amazon Prime before we got to the car. If my 60 year old Mother, can confidently strategise using multi-devices to get what she wants, then my assumption is everyone can and probably are…

Expectations are driven by first class experiences. Expectations now transcend vertical and category. Customer expectation isn’t going away and within saturated markets, if you’re not meeting the expectation of your customer within an experience, they’re going to go away.

With all of this technology, we’re more time-poor than ever before, which is not what we expected…

How can customers keep up in the land of plenty?

I believe that technology and innovation should not be regarded as a threat, but welcomed as an opportunity. Ensuring that you are not only keeping up with the connected customer, but also setting the agenda should be your target.

You just have to get over the fact that a new-age, connected customer is not interested in your excuses as to why you can’t match Amazon, Google or Netflix for experience. Once you’re over that fact, start planning it out.

Join the dots, don’t tick the boxes

CX Planning, the practice of understanding and answering the needs of your customers at each potential touchpoint where they interact with your brand or product is more important than ever. As technology platforms scale, your opportunities to come into contact with and please your customers does too.

Each of these ‘touchpoint’s not only need to be connected, they need to offer services relevant to the customer.

You need to be serving your customers at the right place, at the right time, whenever and where-ever that might be.

The brilliant basics

Innovation is great. Things like AI and ChatBots doing things differently will certainly have an impact on your business and your customers, but its really important that you’re doing the basics right.

The technology that underpins and supports your customers in buying your product needs to do its job well and meet the evolving needs of your customers. And its important that these things are as frictionless as possible.

Know your customer

If you ask an objective question, you tend to get objective answers. Don’t just chase the opinion of a customer.

Understanding what they’re thinking, feeling and doing is much more powerful and true to their requirements.

This is why as well as using traditional research such as interviews and user testing, we also attempt to use ethnography where we can and work with psychologists in order to gain a better understanding of the unconscious perspective of users.

Add utility & value

It’s much cheaper to make products that people want, as opposed to trying to make people want your products.

There are not many digital products out there that are not classed now as Digital Services. With so many out there for people to choose from, its important that the ones you’re creating have utility and value.

Ensure you’re creating products that are centred on needs and are solving them in a simple manner, but are packed full of extra value.

If you’re solving a genuine customer problem, people will come back and use your service again and instill trust in you.

Don’t be scared of having an idea

It’s important to stay ahead of your customers. By keeping up with trends, you’ll retain the opportunity to really surprise and delight your customers.

Even if the basics of your operations are not in order, don’t lose your creative flame and don’t be scared about trying something different or new, even if you lack support for it within your organisation..

Prototyping and testing of an idea is a simple and easy way to test a hypothesis, idea or validate something for your organisation. As the number of design software options increase, the learning curve for using design tools is flattening.

Whether its an app, a small part of the journey, or an entire platform, you never know the impact your own creativity may have on your customer, your organisation and also yourself.

Neil Ballinger, UX lead, Nimbletank

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