A (r)evolution is brewing, and most companies are not prepared for it.
It’s no secret how, with an overabundance of new devices and platforms available every day, customers are more empowered and finding new ways to either hack or completely ignore company touchpoints. With this complex customer journey unfolding, great marketing, products and services are not enough to win. Now, companies need to create and cultivate meaningful experiences for their customers. This starts with designing a more intuitive and efficient customer journey that works the way connected consumers want to work. The results from investments in a more dynamic customer experience (CX) are more meaningful customer engagements and a notable competitive advantage
Improving CX is easier said than done however since today’s always-on consumers are hard to please. They’re multi-taskers. They’re mobile. They’re expectations and behaviors mimic their favorite apps and networks. And these connected consumers transcend demographics. They’re not Gen X, Gen Y or Gen Z; they’re the “Connected Customer”—Generation C.
For this generation, experience is everything. Gen C is a generation of people who live a digital lifestyle. Thanks to apps and on-demand services, they have become accidental narcissists. I say this lovingly of course. For example, many, who have used Uber, would prefer never to use taxis again. The experience is far more personal, streamlined and it caters to people who are driving a new on-demand economy. Additionally, those who have used Doordash and Instacart are now second-guessing whether they really need to go out to eat or shop for their own groceries. Fortunately or unfortunately, for Gen-C, impatience is a virtue. On-demand apps are setting the standard for a new genre of customer experience. Gen-C is learning to live in a world that puts them at the center of everything.
Now, empowered, connected customers live in what I call an egosystem where they want products and services now. And in the egosystem, shared experience is the standard for customer experience. That’s because Gen C relies on shared experiences to make their purchasing decisions. When they look at mobile to decide whether to buy something, they rely on reviews—shared experiences—to make the call.
To improve CX, companies must develop an understanding of the fractured, real-time customer journeys that Gen C consumers undergo to foster personal and shareable experiences. However, companies have relied on the traditional funnel as a starting point for improving customer experiences. Over the years, businesses have assumed that consumers take a linear path of awareness, interest, desire and, ultimately, action. But mobile changed the customer journey and research shows that the traditional funnel is dangerously outdated. In my research at Altimeter Group, now part of the Prophet company, I learned that the customer journey for connected customers is far more dynamic than most businesses realize. It’s rife with new patterns, expectations, resources of information, forms of media and screens, which is rendering the sales funnel frustrating at best. In fact, many journeys, even if modernized, compromise expectations and force connected customers back in time.
One of the most exciting outcomes of my research as what I called the Dynamic Customer Journey (DCJ)—a model that takes into account how the connected customer forms and makes decisions today. This model is similar to the traditional funnel in that it includes the steps of awareness, consideration and evaluation. But unlike the old funnel, this model accounts for real-time, shallow and deep dives and more so, introduced bridges between customers and shared experiences in every moment of truth.
At the middle is the influence loop. This loop reflects the fact that, in every step of the customer journey, connected customers go to places where other people have published their experiences to uncover the truth about your brand, your products and your services. They’re looking for validation from someone like them.
How to win the business of Gen C
To attract and keep connected customers, companies must design for shared experiences. Connected customers influence other connected customers who embark upon a similar journey. If the experiences people have don’t result in positive influence, there’s no hope for preference. And, without positive experiences, loyalty or advocacy will never happen. Said another way, great experiences are the minimum ante here. Experiences must also be shared and fostered to inspire future consumers.
To design for shared experiences, companies can’t rely on data like NPS and CSAT alone. The future of business is experiential, and companies must commit to understanding the complex, connected world that Gen C consumers live in.
You can’t drive CX using general numbers or data alone because they don’t reveal why connected customers do what they do. Companies must use customer intelligence to make sure that they understand and optimize these shared experiences. That’s how you lead a relevance revolution—by engaging with your customers on an ongoing basis and developing deep, genuine customer insight over time.
The CX Revolution is here—and it’s here to stay. Gen C lives in a connected, mostly mobile world—and companies must design accordingly. Their behaviors, expectations, preferences and values are evolving as a result. In this era, if you’re not an experience, you’re not a brand. To lead this revolution, companies must be prepared to use customer feedback and engagement to making key decisions around improving the customer experience and uncovering opportunities for innovation.
To learn more, join me and Nick Stein, senior vice president of marketing at Vision Critical, on April 14 for a webinar on the Customer Experience Revolution.
Image Credit: BusinessInsider Australia