When it comes to customer experience, marketers can never underestimate just how much convenience has been a factor in most major influential changes in changing consumer’s tastes over the past few decades. Jon Roughley, Head of Strategy at Experian explains why convenience is king.
Customers have quickly become used to new, frictionless digital services that work in real time and fit in seamlessly with busy lives. Businesses are responding fast to new measures of convenience – and pushing the limits of the possible. The result is that more often ‘change teams’ are being established to focus on the task of innovating for – and delighting – customers.
This development has come from not only the customer becoming accustomed to this new way of doing business – such as applying for a loan online – but their expectation about what they get from service providers continues to escalate.
For traditional businesses, this is all part of the challenge of going digital. For disruptive new businesses, keeping up with this demand is how they maintain a competitive edge.
So, consumers experience and then demand more innovation. Until we could order taxis from our mobile phones, it wasn’t a desire. Now, it has forced massive disruptive change across an industry and helped fuel debate about even automating driving itself.
Similarly, we could not have appreciated how convenient it would be to book a nights’ accommodation in a stranger’s home – and couldn’t have imagined how much more we would purchase if someone showed us a curation of what we would like.
At a basic level – maybe it all started with the coffee bag.
It sounds so simple, but for a consumer – how much easier is it to enjoy a premium coffee experience without having to rinse the cafeteria of discarded grounds? Marketers can never underestimate just how much convenience has been a factor in most major influential changes in changing consumer’s tastes over the past few decades.
Disruptive businesses unleashing new goods and services like this haven’t just caused established businesses to think about how they overhaul their own practices – they have changed the very nature of innovation and created entirely new markets. Essentially, they have shifted the competition onto their own turf.
What does fundamental digital innovation look like?
Applying the coffee bag example further… If we are to take the retail industry as an example, it’s clear digital innovators have moved in and carved out a niche for themselves by putting the customer front and centre. For example, personalising a customer’s offers and product recommendations and incorporating social media into the account access journey – making the whole process much simpler (perhaps even fun) and more convenient. Remembering passwords is already a challenge for many, and alternative means of access allows users the flexibility to use the details they feel most comfortable with – or the ones they have to hand.
In banking, we are accessing our accounts using digital identities and biometrics – as well as reaping the rewards of instant payments and banking apps. In automotive, innovators are intent on driving society to a future where (perhaps) few will own personal vehicles. Instead, travellers will rely on a fleet of public, autonomous vehicles to transport them to and from destinations, all controlled by an app.
These conveniences and services may have been beyond the desires of consumers years ago, but the drumbeat of digital innovation means that convenience is layered on convenience increasingly fast, and our desires change to match.
The tools of yesterday are out of date – consumers have changed – quickly
Now, when an established business wants to change, it has a difficult position to negotiate. If change is brought about, how does it continue to deliver its current business model while also attempting to disrupt what they have for something that’s potentially unproven?
Most change now is a result of the rapid building of innovation in digital technologies. With social media and internet usage rising globally, powered by smartphone quantity, access is convenient in a way unimaginable two decades ago. But, with many enterprise legacy systems that don’t consider or enable a full digital integration, it causes some business to overhaul their systems and strategies to be effective innovators.
Given these demands, it is not surprising to see growth in Chief Digital Officer (CDO) positions across corporate boards. The number of CDOs is currently around 2,000 globally, and hiring one typically signals a commitment to digital transformation.
The role is that of chief transformer, coordinating and leading significant change and updating how the organisation works. It’s all about delivery execution, customer focus, building agility – and understanding data.
These new technologies and methods of delivering the customer journey can create frictionless customer experiences, which address the potential ‘unhappy paths’ in a journey. This will allow organisations to redefine themselves, truly delivering lower cost models that digital promises, and delighting customers.
Finding the right people
Access to the right skills to deliver change programmes is key.
Having the right people to drive corporate programmes forward is important to be able to innovate at pace. Equally, having the right systems, processes and critical thinking in place are just as crucial.
Disruptors are increasingly meeting the needs of the customer – straight off. They don’t need to battle past historic reviews or perceptions, they are delighting their customers and intriguing prospects without the baggage of legacy systems, thinking and skill-sets. Yet they are not always doing this through pure innovation, but by changing mind-sets and the framework of how they engage with customers. This is in turn influencing customer expectations for the whole market.
These new, smaller, start-ups may even present an opportunity for established players to partner with. They may be someone to help influence and shape traditional designs into future-ready versions. They may offer the ability to deliver excellent experiences and interactions to customers in a way that traditional businesses aren’t able to design right now.
It’s about understanding what customers want, how they get it, and what conveniences customers may not even be imagining yet. This is becoming more and more important as competition increases and customer expectations evolve. People don’t want old, cumbersome experiences, they want new, fast, responsive services. And they are more likely to want it in a digital format.
It’s all about convenience – the bag, not the grounds.
By Jon Roughley
Head of Strategy