How digital economy changes customers’ expectations
A company’s main objective is to generate income; without it, the castle crumbles. Therefore, the people, the processes and the systems in place all have one goal : to bring in revenue.
When everything’s going well, no questions are asked. But when things start to go wrong and money isn’t coming in as it used to, we tend to get nervous. We question the sales team, production costs and strategic positioning of the company… We look for solutions and even for a scapegoat. But when identifying the cause of ineffectiveness in the traditional business environment, the culprit is not what you think. The real culprit is the customer.
In the digital economy era – or Digital Darwinism as described by the authors of Altimeter Group study – the customer is king. Regardless of the strategy in place or the active business initiatives, if the customer’s experience is not the priority, all efforts will only yield short-term results.
The digital economy has impacted the way businesses are conducted and the systems companies use, but, insidiously, it has also profoundly transformed customers’ attitudes and expectations towards companies.
They are impatient
Digital is often associated with instantaneity. Google understood this and penalizes sites that doesn’t load quickly enough. And because finding information or sending an email is done promptly, responses are expected to be just as quick. Nowadays, as a customer, we have high expectations and companies that cannot catch up to this trend will lose to those who will.
They are egocentric
Surfing the web is a solitary and egocentric action. Whether it’s for ourselves or for our employers, human nature is such that, we always seek personal benefits for our actions. Therefore, companies that manage to clearly communicate benefits and relevance will undoubtedly, lose less customers in the middle and long-term.
They are not prisoners anymore
The internet lowers opportunity costs for switching. Finding alternatives no longer require face-to-face meetings or attending trade shows. Even products are built to reduce barriers to exit. For example, SAAS models are now a commonplace and offer ways of importing and exporting data boosting adoption rate. Lack of knowledge and technological incompatibilities, once locking customers to their providers, are now vanishing.
Now is the time to adapt
Considering this reality, companies that want to stand out ultimately have two options: offer the best prices or the best customer experience. For the time being, product companies can still continue to operate using the traditional marketing 4Ps, but service companies – where human relationships are paramount – have no other choice than to be ready to efficiently manage impatient and egocentric customers.
Currently, lots of effort and money is invested in attracting new customers but little is done to make them feel important after they’ve made the jump. But the thing is, making customers feel important doesn’t require a whole lot. Customers, like you or I, simply want to be treated like humans and with common sense. They do not care about systems and processes, only to be reminded of the reasons for their fidelity.
A good look in the mirror
At Objectif Lune, we are working on enhancing our customer experience with great humility. As we do so, we are dealing with the same challenges and difficulties as I am sure other companies, doing the same thing are facing.
This road, most would agree, is riddled with closed information systems, silo processes, various paradigms – all of which implies compromising. And when decision making, the concept of common sense varies depending on the context and department mentality, but it is only when putting the customer at the center of the equation that it becomes possible to steer in the right direction.
That’s the reason customer experience systems don’t exist – and I don’t believe one can be built, no matter how much money you have. It’s human qualities that we must turn to, like empathy and the will to change, which are, in my opinion, at the heart of the solution. In order to avoid getting entangled in a pile of processes and new business rules, a strategy by simple rules approach is probably warranted. And then, what will remain are the technological barriers that prevent organizations from communicating in a timely and consistent way, on channels customer use… But for that, we have PlanetPress Connect. ;O)