Today’s experience economy is largely focused on utilitarian dimensions of customer experience – factors like simplicity, speed, and convenience. However, this is table stakes, and customers have come to expect these as a necessity to even do business. In the digital-first world, attracting, and crucially holding the attention of the future customer will require brands to differentiate on the human element of customer experience.
Shifts caused by Industry 4.0 have vastly altered customer expectations throughout the last few years which was greatly accelerated by the pandemic. The three areas that will impact customers’ perception of experience are:
- The rise of intelligent context. With an explosion of data, customer expectations are experiences that are specific and contextual to their needs.
- The age of experiences. Every element of customer engagement from the content or frequency to the choice of channel informs the whole experience; dissolution of channel boundaries requires organizations to bring fluidity to experiences.
- Social Accountability. Trust and privacy are paramount to a customer’s choice in brand. Brands are being held accountable by customers for their ethics and values, both, toward customers and the broader society/community.
This new age of experiences requires enterprises to recognize and act on the following four tenets:
- Focus should be on digital-first and digital at the core, but not digital-only.
- Engage intelligently and differentiate from other brands by honoring the emotional dimension of the customer experience.
- The winning combination of a differentiated experience is excelling in the micro-moments as well as whole journey experiences with a focus on customer outcomes.
- To be perceived as an organization that delivers empathy at scale, brands must act as a steward of the customer and their data.
The following four themes illustrates IDC’s thinking of a human-centered digital-first experience:
First, is about experiences becoming Immersive. Customers should perceive experiences as intuitive, positive, and memorable. The convergence of physical-digital with augmented reality, Zero UI, or machine learning/AI and IoT can deliver desired customer outcomes while customers navigate their journeys on “auto-pilot”.
Second, Customer Value Parity will become essential. Organizations will need to shift their thinking and success measures from value obtained from the customer to value delivered to customers. For example, with the rise of decentralization, customers have more control of their information and how they allow brands to use that information. By tapping into technologies such as journey analytics, social listening, and customer sentiment analytics, brands can determine the next best value centric customer outcome to offer customers.
The third theme is Empathy. Organizations will need to elevate personalization to create individual and intimate experiences through a continuous understanding of customer context. Technologies such as affective computing, socially aware/ethical AI enables an organization to actively learn about a customer to progress from predictive engagement to prescriptive action.
The fourth is about Engendering Trust with customers. With pervasive digitalization, how will a customer trust a brand if their data isn’t secure, or if customers constantly perceive bias in terms of how systems/technologies employed by organizations make customer decisions? Being transparent on data privacy and usage goes a long way in creating greater customer loyalty and trust.
IDC is seeing examples of organizations that are already pursuing a vision of a reimagined future digital-first experience. These companies are focusing on the fundamentals of understanding wholistic customer data and insights, applying this intelligence in the right contexts, and focusing on delivering customer outcomes that deliver value and empathy at scale to their customers.
Further, not only do these organizations offer a stellar digital-first, customer facing experience, but they extend that across the mid- and back-office functions. The more mature organizations extend the customer-centric mindset further with a cross-ecosystem approach with partners and suppliers as well.
For details about the organizations who are pursuing a vision for a reimagined digital-first experience and more information about the Future of Customer Experience, watch our March 2022 Directions presentation on “Rethinking the Digital First Experience”.