The Customer Experience Wars
A clash of tech-fueled convenience, free flowing media, experimentalism and relentless distraction.
Perhaps it dawned on you while you were sitting in traffic, stuck behind a car using Adaptive Cruise Control. You saw its driver sitting dozily at the wheel – probably tuned into a mindfulness podcast – and realised: these are different times. Traffic moves at a crawl, but information moves so fast a Kickstarter product is plagiarized and produced in Shenzen before its campaign has funded. Meanwhile, Vice makes meal kits and brews beer, breweries open hotels, hotels launch designer apparel, and apparel brands sell bricks, stones and metrocards. Verticals are artifacts from a more timid time. One of long corporate lifespans and easily impressed customers.
You can’t sit out the 21st Century Customer Experience Wars. Shots are fired every second. From Oslo to Ottawa, from Seattle to Santiago. No brand is safe. No wonder, then, that 86% of business leaders agree that customer experience is vital for success (Harvard Business Review, January 2017). Time to get to know the rules of engagement…
The Fundamental Question
When attention is your customer’s most precious resource, are you saving or seizing it?
In a hyper-competitive Experience Economy where consumers are digitally empowered, yet feel forever time-starved, there’s a fundamental choice to make with your Customer Experience strategy. At any particular moment, you must decide if your brand’s offering is a stepping stone on the way to experiences or if you are providing the experience itself. At every interaction or encounter you must ask: is your brand saving the customer’s attention or seizing it?
The answer to that question may change over the course of the customer journey, yet the challenge remains constant. Fail to save or seize attention and you’ll end up wasting it. And wasted attention is unforgivable.
The Fork in the Road
Why is this Customer Experience dichotomy so urgent?
Customers today are beyond fortunate, yet they often feel that ‘paying’ for anything – with time and attention – is an almost intolerable cost. And while the question, “are you functional or delightful?” is as old as commerce itself, it’s more relevant than ever. Here are just four shifts that have brought us here:
• Digitally-supercharged business models deliver everything, from baby food to life advice on-demand, and battle to maximize efficiency.
• Connected devices (with image and voice recognition and more built in) actually work. Meanwhile machine learning and massive data trails empower brands to better decisions on the customer’s behalf.
• The switch to ephemeral social sharing via Snapchat and the Copycats is pouring gasoline on the Experience Economy.
• A chorus of purpose-driven brands, big and small, promise (and increasingly deliver) a path to self-actualization.
In response to the above shifts, many brands will specialize and either seize or save attention. Others are a hybrid, varying at each touchpoint. The core truth to absorb? You must know exactly where you stand in this dichotomy or you will suffer the consequences.
2019 Trend Event
Our first series of 2019 trend events will take place in Amsterdam, London, New York, and Singapore.
This time we’ll be exploring The Future of Experiences, specifically in-person experiences and the consumer trends placing them at the center of B2C brand and marketing strategies worldwide.