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The dark side of tech’s ethics

Mano che regge una lampada circolare

Our judgment, like a pendulum, continuously swings between optimism and pessimism. This inclination is self-evident when we discuss the technological developments, occurred in the last decades, that have modified our way of living. 

In 1964, Umberto Eco published Apocalypse Postponed, an essay that was meant to put in order the different judgments expressed on mass society. Eco tried to find a correct and rational middle ground between those who were enthusiastic about cultural innovations and those who loathed them. As an old catchphrase says, "in medio stat virtus".

 

The current situation

The same arguments could be shifted to our troubled years, where two opposite parties are fighting over different topics such as social networks, privacy, personal relationships, online hate, irresponsibility, and so on. Those who have faith in the birth of a just world and those who predict the end of our existence. As the pendulum above, we feel different emotions about the future of technology.

Recently, media have spread some news about the racist, discriminating and insensitive behavior of Artificial Intelligence's applications. This is usually a matter of social network management, recruitment procedures, predictive policing. 

Well, there is no wonder; technology is not neutral.

Technology is created by humans for humans and carries within it all the prejudices and personal histories of those who develop it. It clearly appears in applications where technology has a voice and relates directly to its creators.

 

Microsoft's Tay bot

In 2016, Microsoft released on Twitter its most advanced bot: Tay, to improve its conversational skills in the social network. In less than 24 hours, Tay started using an offensive and racist language, forcing Microsoft to shut it down. 

The causes of this media disaster were soon discovered: during that short time, the Artificial Intelligence, which wasn't given an understanding and limitation of misbehavior, learned from Twitter users to use inappropriate language.

 

Youtube's moderation system 

Another example to be mentioned for its pervasive presence in our lives is the social networks' moderation system. As we all know, in 90% of cases, an Artificial Intelligence that is trained to recognize inappropriate contents will control users' posts. Well, it is not uncommon that users have been the target of discriminatory censorship performed by the moderation system.

It is interesting to mention the episode involving YouTube, which has penalized, economically and publicly, the LGBTQ themed contents of numerous creators. In this case, the system was not able to distinguish between sexually explicit themes and videos that show the authors' sexual and gender orientations.

Many cases could be mentioned as examples, and many others that have not received media visibility and, thus, remain unclosed. 

 

OpenAI and university courses

However, in recent years, many subjects have understood the importance of this topic. OpenAI , a non-profit company that sees Elon Musk and Bill Gates among its investors, has set itself the goal of creating a free and secure Artificial Intelligence, to improve the life of all humanity, without discrimination.

Many universities, on the other hand, began to develop, within their training offers, examinations and specializations concerning ethics in Artificial Intelligence. Harvard, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology among others. All the most important pools of talent in the technology field have finally understood the importance of teaching their students this kind of technology, which is not neutral and must be conceived according to our conscience.

Ultimately, there is only one keystone. Machines don't care about our future; our wellness depends solely on people who develop them.

 

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

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Create Emotional Connections With Your Customers Using Data

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Much has been said about retail disruption, personalization, chatbots, and AI, with headline after headline enlightening the topic trends of the moment. Yes, we all know that mobile is the primary device when it comes to planning your marketing strategy; that the retail industry needs to evolve to keep up with the e-commerce giants; that the so-called industry 4.0 is the real thing; that personalization is the only feature that matters.

All these trends are clear markers of that simple truth we all know: customer preferences are changing so fast that it’s hard to predict or anticipate them these days. We can’t say which brands or products will shine in the next years with a soaring demand, nor which ones will lose ground.

Today, customer engagement requires innovative, specific, personalized experiences, and companies often strive to satisfy their needs. Following trends is dangerous: in the very moment you find a focus on a particular trend, it is likely already passed. You must learn to anticipate trends, create them starting from the knowledge you have right now.

Furthermore, traditional customer segmentation has become difficult and ineffective. Old-school data profiling is inadequate to illustrate the specific characteristics of the buyer personas, due to its broadness and non-specificity. Hard data, such as location, age, gender, or even interests, are not sufficiently distinct to portray a person’s profile and his behavioral patterns effectively.

Today, customers are accustomed to weekly product turnover, monthly technology updates, on-demand streaming services, on the moment news, and automated customer support: everything is available everywhere, at any time.

How can we expect our customers to stand still enough to let us detect their needs, design a solution, and provide it at our convenience? Even broaden concepts like sustainability or privacy compliance, considered as evergreen trends, are not always reliable in the mid or long term. One season it’s all about life-long garments made of organic cotton and the next one everyone wants that 10$-plastic-trendy shoes.

Now, imagine being introduced to this buyer persona: a young male, located in New York, with a lot of different interests - from sports to technology and music -, who spends around 70$ per month for discretionary activities.

How can you tell whether he is interested in taking insurance coverage / taking part in a guided tour through the mountains, rather than exploring new cities on a self-organized trip? How can you predict if he would prefer a long, descriptive written content, rather than a chart, to delineate the advantages of your service?

Traditional profiling can easily become a false friend: it gives the idea that you are gaining knowledge, while you are actually focusing on generic data and missing the real key to the heart of the single person. There are just too many variables among customers to pretend that using only a little part of them might be enough to predict their behavior.

And so what?

So, it is necessary to gain a deep, valuable, holistic understanding of who your customer is as a person and what he/she expects from you in terms of feelings, emotions, and experiences.

Customer loyalty is all about experiences. Offering high-quality products is important but delivering relevant experiences that resonate with the inner feelings of the recipient is essential. Thus, brands need to achieve a profound knowledge of their customers, investigating the key elements that provide the basis to establish meaningful bonds.

These elements are the personal characteristics that are stable across time and situations; the ones that determine the attitude and approach towards life and everyday choices, such as personality traits, values, and beliefs.

For example, the ideal buyer persona for insurance providers tends to be someone who has a high-risk aversion and an external locus of control rather than someone who is more prone to bear ambiguous situations and usually feels in control of his life.

More, someone who has a strong inclination towards adventures and spontaneity would prefer a self-organized, backpacked trip, while a person in the same socio-demographic sector, but with strong values of security, familiarity, and ease will probably pick a guided tour, with scheduled times and activities.

Communication messages need to be tailored to the recipients characteristics and their attitude towards information: not everyone copes and assimilates data similarly, and these differences need to be taken into great consideration.

Another example: people with a high need for cognition need to deepen the search for precise information to form an accurate opinion, while those with an inclination towards affection absorb emotional appeals better.

These few examples provide the necessary understanding of the individual differences that occur between people, not regarding socio-demographic or behavioral data, but concerning other aspects that have long been ignored.

Today, the state of technologies grants us the opportunity to identify, isolate and use this information to provide better experiences to our customers. Are you willing to gain this deeper understanding and stay on top of your customers’ desires?

 

Photo by Federico Beccari on Unsplash

 

 

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Visual Marketing – Everything You Need To Engage Customers

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Take a look at the advertising and marketing trends of the last four, five years. You can immediately recognize that there is a common trait: visual content. Today, in fact, people prefer visual contents, rather than texts.

As a result, social networks have become primarily visual oriented - i.e. stories and 360 videos - with optical technologies, such as VR and AR, used as marketing tools to create a full, immersive experience for customers.

Why do people prefer visual content? Also, how can companies choose the right image to deliver valuable content and increase customer engagement?

WHY DO PEOPLE PREFER VISUAL CONTENT?

We are meant to process and respond to visual content better than words: it’s in our DNA. In fact, 50% to 80% of our brain is dedicated to visual processing - colors, shapes, visual memory, patterns, spatial awareness, and image recollection. This tendency leads to an innate preference for images, illustrations, videos, and colors.

Also, today’s customers want to receive information quickly and without huge efforts; thus, they are more likely to consume visual content, which is processed 60000 times faster than text. What about the information we retain from experiences? We actually remember 20% of what we read and 80% of what we see.

It doesn’t mean that text is not important anymore. An extensive textual content, in fact, can provide a level of completeness that is incomparable, and sometimes you cannot use a simple image to explain complicated concepts. Combining the two elements, text and images, however, you can reach the best results.

HOW CAN VISUALS IMPROVE MARKETING RESULTS?

With the enormous amount of content and information running each and every day, companies need to do everything they can to differentiate. Using visual elements is much more effective than text only because - as we have just seen - they can capture customers’ attention.

Moreover, the use of relevant and compelling visuals generate more engagement, as it make website visitors stay longer on page, consume more content, and understand the messages you are trying to deliver.

The use of high-quality magnets such as infographics or canvas can also bring a lot of relevant inbound links, boosting your ranking in search results, and increasing brand relevance. It’s been proved that customers make decisions based on what they remember. Thus, leveraging on the most critical driver of customers’ choices - memory - visuals ultimately increase the chances to be recognized.

WHAT TYPE OF VISUAL CONTENT WORKS BEST?

According to iScrabblers, a real photo produces better results than a stock photo (35% more), and employees and customer testimonials generate engagement respectively in terms of viewing time and conversion rate.

Also, colors capture attention, increase recall, comprehension, and brand recognition. Not to mention how they can influence human emotions: certain colors or color combinations generate particular feelings and affect the way people (and customers) make decisions.

To achieve better results, consider putting more efforts on creating original contents and matching colors with the emotions you want to resonate with your message.

HOW CAN YOU FIND THE PERFECT IMAGE?

Marketers often struggle when it comes to producing engaging visual content on a consistent basis. As a result, more and more companies adopt online tools or software to facilitate the process of producing such contents and enhance their performances.

However, this might not be enough: the fact that your image is beautifully crafted doesn’t mean that it is also effective. Every time you grab the audience’s attention but they don’t recall your brand or product, you are losing a chance to convert and monetize.

So, how can you find the perfect image for your blog post, advertising, or product presentation? You can rely on AI tools such as Image Memorability, which can answer this specific need, revealing the memorability score of images or advertisements before they are published, to predict the effectiveness of your visual marketing.

 

Photo by Tony Webster on Unsplash

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Three Insights From The State of Digital Transformation 2018 – 2019

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A few weeks ago Altimeter has released its annual report “The State of Digital Transformation”, investigating the evolution of digital innovation in the enterprise ecosystem. Technologies reinvent and reshape markets and business behaviors, and it is crucial to monitor the key trends and insights that can guide you across the modern digital transformation.

This year, the results show an overall maturation: companies are modernizing and working together through this essential and unavoidable transformation. Even more, companies seem to comprehend the importance of expanding and reorganizing their business in a way that responds and corresponds to customers’ expectations and market competitiveness.

However, they still have to cope with a few resistances and missteps, as you could expect. Incorporating such a significant transformation into the organizational culture and people mindset requires efforts that are not-trivial, in terms of investments and guidance.

Looking at the report, we have gained three crucial insights, that describe the state of digital transformation in business.

The Customer Experience is still high-priority

This is the era of customer-centricity, a time when people’s preferences and concerns are much more critical than any other assumption. It is a time of tweets and social sharing, of personalization and co-creation. A time of humans and emotions. Ultimately, a time when empathy and technology must work together.

Over the last few years, customer experience has become the top priority for companies. Fixing and regulating it to meet customer’s needs and expectations is a long-term work that requires a combination of efforts and investments.

In 2018, companies continued to focus on customers, connecting all the touchpoints and empowering an infrastructure tailored to their preferences: 57% of companies report it as their top priority in the long-term roadmap (the next five to ten years) and 54% in the short-term (the next three years). This confirms that the customer perspective will still be a key element when deciding where and when to allocate budgets.

How does this willingness translate into action? Most companies are doing so by investigating customer journeys (59%). This adds to the perception of an increasing level of maturity among businesses, that seem to leverage on the customer understanding when designing the digital transformation roadmap. Only a small part of organizations (7%) hasn’t even studied the new customer journey, revealing a significant gap between mature businesses and the green ones.

Meanwhile, companies are also prioritizing - 49% in the long term and 45% in the short term - the empowerment of an efficient IT infrastructure, to go with and support the CX innovation. This confirms the idea that the customer experience is an omnichannel, general concept, that can’t be detached from the presence of an agile and flexible architecture of technologies, to deliver the exact offering and innovate more efficiently.

Increasing budgets and decreasing controls

When it comes to disruptive technologies, the budget is essential. There can’t be any transformation without investments, and the budgets must evolve in line with the technology upgrades and cross-functional initiatives required.

This year, the percentage of companies that report larger investments has incremented significantly: budgets between $15 and $30 millions boosted 210%, and budgets more or equal to $50 millions presented a dramatic raise of 640%. Even though the latter includes only a few companies (11%), it is a clue of an enterprise-wide movement.

Yet, there is a big concern about whether or not these budgets are relevant to gain an effective transformation. A significant percentage of companies seems to be using the budget without the guidance of a specific roadmap or a clear understanding of customers’ real needs and behavior.

The hardest challenge is the lack of data or a measurable ROI to understand the impact of the digital innovation. If change agents can’t easily show the real value of digital transformation and justify the investments with visible data and results, consequently they struggle to get the material resources they need to thrive.

The perception of digital transformation is, in fact, mostly as a cost center, rather than an investment in growth and performances. This is an example of the difficulties that digital transformers have to handle every day, an expression of the resistance to change that still survives.

Promoting a culture of innovation

One of the most encouraging data is that almost half of the companies have invested in building a culture of innovation, as mandated from the executive level (mostly through an in-house innovation team/lab with dedicated enterprise resources).

On the other side, 48% of companies reported that creating a culture of empowerment and innovation is one of their top priority in digitally transforming the employee experience. Since the digital transformation is an enterprise-wide change, it is essential that this mindset is shared and promoted across all the organization.

It is also promising that this effort is advocated by executives who possess a broad organizational purview. For the second year in a row, CTO/CIOs are reported as formal owners or sponsors of transformation initiatives, followed by CEOs and boards.

These few insights are just a small part of the relevant data and aspects that can be found in “The State of Digital Transformation” by Altimeter.

 

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

 

Discover how you can innovate your business strategy to deliver personalized experiences and turn prospects into loyal customers. Download the free report Digital Innovation in Retail & Fashion.

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How the DCX Can Improve Customer Lifetime Value

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Today, customer retention is gaining attention in business. The importance of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and repurchasing behavior is becoming central. The focus has shifted from customer acquisition to customer retention marketing, due to the recognition of its primary relevance.

It is a matter of fact that acquiring new customers is important, but not at the expenses of the ones that already exist. There are plenty of statistics about the massive impact that customer retention can have on business value. Nurturing the relationship with customers, in order to gain their loyalty and advocacy, and watch them coming back over and over, is the main purpose every Brand should pursue.

Therefore, even among those silos that are focused on numbers and sales, the concern shifted to the value of retention. Despite the fact that acquisitions have always held more weight, and metrics were chosen to examine the revenue of new purchases, today there is a better way to measure business success: customer lifetime value.

 

WHAT IS CLV AND WHY IS SO IMPORTANT

In order to get a better understanding of the value of customers, rather than using metrics such as Return On Investment (ROI), companies should choose Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
ROI measures the gain and loss generated on an investment, within a specific period of time; otherwise, CLV measures the revenue brought by one customer throughout the course of all the interactions with the company.

The main fault of ROI is that it gives a short-sighted business perspective: the concept of “return” requires to set the time by which you want to measure the net profit of your investment. On the contrary, CLV measures the entire value of a lifetime relationship between brand and customer, shifting to a long-term perspective.

Furthermore, Return On Investment considers only the amount of profit gained, regardless of the meaning of specific, different interactions. Repurchasing behavior, positive word of mouth or any action of searching, posting or talking about brands value as much as the return of selling products, or even more.

Switching from an acquisition- to a retention-oriented business strategy requires a different mindset: rather than giving value to consumers based on the amount of their first transaction, brands should measure the cumulative profit provided by customers during the entire duration of their relationship with the company.

 

HOW CX CAN IMPROVE CLV

How can companies accomplish the purpose of cultivating long-lasting relationships, in order to increase Customer Lifetime Value? Focusing on customer experience.
First of all, companies should consider the overall journey of customers. Looking at the bigger picture they can identify the weaknesses and work across functional areas to replace the causes of dissatisfaction and discomfort.

Moreover, concentrating on the relationship, rather than on single interactions, they can cultivate emotional bonds, based on trust, dependability, and reliability. That is the basic requirement of relationship marketing: providing relevant experiences that delight, satisfy, and engage every person, connecting/resonating with their inner meanings.

The first step to the extent of building a strong reputation of the company is to work on the customer touchpoints. The growing area of conversational support, provided by chatbots and messaging tools is opening to new patterns. Due to advances in Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and natural language technologies, Brands can engage customers with personalized and helpful communication.

This kind of “conversational commerce” is growing up quickly, as long as it provides a continuum thread between companies and people, offering the chance to add value to every part of the customer journey. People can search for information, receive support, get personalized recommendations, chat with the company representative, read reviews and click to purchase, without even leaving the messaging app.

Among all the benefits provided by AI, personalization is the feature that best helps companies improve the customer experience. AI technologies let brands easier target specific market segments and provide personalization at scale, using the data gathered by behavior-based algorithms and predictive analytics.

Delivering the best customer experience throughout all the touchpoints allows customers to achieve the highest levels of satisfaction and loyalty - the starting point to create a solid bond between brands and people.

Just as much as customers have started to choose value over price, companies should consider enhancing the worth of the relationships they establish with people: Customer Lifetime Value can be helpful to gain a deeper understanding of this parameter.

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Three Emerging Aspects From the Brand Relevance Index 2018

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Think about the brands that make a difference in your everyday life. The ones that make your life easier, better. Offering you exactly what you need, at the exact moment that you need it.

These brands have the power to influence your decisions, inspiring you day by day. These are the companies that Prophet calls “relentlessly relevant”.

In this article we give an overview about U.S. market, with the purpose to find some relevant aspects that can help marketers understand what people value the most. This perspective gives brands a different approach in order to unlock growth.

THE BRAND RELEVANCE INDEX

The Brand Relevance Index was launched four years ago and is performed country by country, with the aim to distinguish the differences that exist within people and markets from various part of the world.

The crucial point of this ranking is that it is made by surveying more than 40.000 people to list hundreds of brands on many aspects and attributes. According to Scott Davis, “customers are the real only experts” and the choice to start from their perspective to investigate the brand relevance is determinant.

The BRI is based on 4 principles:

  • The inclination to think, make investments and create with a customer-oriented vision;
  • The capacity to meet customers needs, offering products where and when they require them;
  • The ability to provide emotional experiences and ideas that inspire customers day by day;
  • The inclination to continuously reinventing themselves, finding new and creative ways to anticipate unexpressed needs and desires.

The results are mostly congruent to the expectations: tech giants are still dominating the top of the list and, besides few big movers and some surprising entrances, the most famous brands are meeting the expectations.

While a third of the top 21 brands is owned by three companies - Google, Disney, and Sony - none of them stands in the top 5. Instead, Apple is still the most relevant brand, for the fourth year in a row, while KitchenAid and Nike moved into the top 10, replacing Disney and Pixar.

Prophet presents four key findings, common to all top brands: all the companies on the top of the list are constantly reinventing themselves, in order to build a specific, strong community around them. Furthermore, they still are focused on customers and their needs and desires, while trying to inspire them and chasing a higher purpose.

GIANTS AND NEWCOMERS

Tech giants are on the top of the list: 8 of the top 10 are inherently digital and experiential, most born in the last 20 years. How can traditional, brick and mortar companies keep up with the wave of newcomers?

Looking at KitchenAid, a company started in 1919 that has just moved into the top ten, it shows the way to winning customers’ mind and heart: reinventing and renewing is the key to stick out of the ordinary and to emerge from the obsolescence.

Top brands have the commitment to stand ahead customers’ needs and to surprise them, continually reshaping experiences and expectations, in order to offer ever-greater involvement.It’s not just a prerogative of the newcomers.

Older brands, such as Dyson, Chevrolet or Ford, have recently broken into the top 50, confirming that there still is a room for historical brands, if they can keep the pace, transforming themselves while remaining true to their roots and consistent with the brand heritage.

Furthermore, the youngest customer base has a preference for these companies too. While these customers have always been known for being social media obsessed, this stereotype is no longer true - it has never been, probably. In fact, besides all the posting, tweeting and snapping, social media brands aren’t the most relevant to their lives.

On the top of their list there is Netflix, confirmed as the best entertaining media. Due to its ability to offer suggestions tailored to individual preferences, and to increase the content base with new, peculiar projects, it keeps reaching the highest “make me happy” score. Definitely one of the best recently born brands.

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

It’s evident that among millennials, all the social media platforms are losing ground; especially Facebook, the biggest mover of the year (-102 positions). However, this drop is seen in every age and gender demographic as well, confirming that this decline is not ascribed to the youngest base.

The decreased usage of Facebook is imputable to the lack of trust and interest. The “fake news” attribution, and the numerous big data breaches have brought down the brand reputation, making people doubt about its value.

Partly, this drop may represent a natural shifting to other parts of the social ecosystem, as people are always looking for the best place to express themselves. Instagram is still running the photo-framed social interactions, WhatsApp is the most used messaging system, and YouTube is the natural place for video sharing.

Nevertheless, all these social media platforms don’t seem to be considered as “relevant” to people: no one of them is ranking on the top 50, except for Pinterest.

INSPIRATIONAL BRANDS

Among social media, only Pinterest is winning customers attention, ranking third in the overall list, and first among “makes me feel inspired”.

Delivering great experiences and promoting relevant ideas, is one of the most important aspects of relevance, that results in the opportunity for brands to create a deeper connection with their customers. People want brands to express a unique model of thought, that is consistent with the brand image, and which customers can relate to or get inspiration from.

Likewise, Android is perceived as “The People’s Platform”, making its openness and ease to use a major of the brand characteristics. Its usage is worldwide - actually 86% of mobile devices - and people have the perception that it is accessible and futuristic, and gives them the power to contribute to its development.

Both these aspects - letting people get inspiration from each other and from the brand, along with showing a purpose to chase - result in the opportunity to build a strong community that shares a common view and meets common values.

The few takeaways presented in this article are just a small part of the relevant aspects that can be observed looking at the report by Prophet. The starting point to study the relationship between brands and customers, that it is the most important element when shaping brand personality in order to become relevant, meaningful and essential to customers’ lives.

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Download our brand new report, Digital Innovation in Retail & Fashion, and discover why you must know and understand your customers before even thinking about selling, and how you can use personalization to deliver relevant experiences that drive loyalty and increase value.

Schermata 2018-09-17 alle 15.40.21

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Three (Avoidable) Steps To Create The Ultimate Bad Customer Experience

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Growing a happy customer base is the key to success, we all know it. We usually look at the bright side - how Brands could and should deliver the best possible experience. This time we want to focus on the dark side of the DCX.

In a nutshell, are you willing to delight your customers with amazing experiences? Do you work constantly to improve your strategy? If the answer is Yes, do not read this post. Or maybe you should. Warning: this is a (not so much) ironical post.

When creating a business strategy, most companies do not consider the importance of a well-rounded customer journey. They simply look at the tip of the iceberg - made of standard recommendations - not considering the uncovered area, that refers to valuables experiences.

MAKE YOURSELF HARD TO FIND

In love, the winner is the one who flees. The same way, you could be tempted to run away from your customer’s attention, hiding and making yourself hard to find. What better way to start a relationship than to be desired, right?

If you want to deliver a horrible customer experience, the tipping point is to make your customers feel upset. Forcing them to struggle, testing their will to find information about you or your products. The result? They will soon turn to your competitors.

The best view comes after the hardest climb, right? No. Not when talking about the customers and their experience. It’s essential to make sure that people can easily find what they are looking for, whether it is the localization of your store, the price of your product or the contacts of support.

Today’s people are always on the move and connected. They don’t want to waste time and request immediate answers to their questions. 75% of online customers expect help within 5 minutes. If you’re not there, you’re anywhere. Digital and mobile technologies got them used to the easiest, fastest and the more natural way to do things; they expect your brand to do the same.

In this scenario, the worst thing that you can do is to believe that you don’t need to oversee as many touchpoints of the customer journey as you can, online and offline. Do you want to be bad at DCX? Hide where none can find you!

DO NOT UNDERSTAND CUSTOMERS

Sometimes, even when you’ve been working so hard to make them run away, customers still have the guts to believe in you and your product. They want to connect with your brand at all costs. How can you escape from this heavy task? Easy: show no understanding at all of the channels.

In this era of constant data flow coming through all sorts of touchpoints, so many companies get lost in the stream, stuck with no idea of who their customers really are and where they are. All the information in this world is useless if you don’t know what to do with it.

Just think about social media, the perfect place to build useless strategies, waste your budget and not reach your audience anyway. One of the first things they teach you in a marketing course is that no brand/product is similar to another in terms of target audiences and channels.

Do you want to be irrelevant? Throw your messages and contents to a random audience using randomly chosen channels. Otherwise, find the perfect platform to interact with the right audience: think about your buyer personas and look for the right place to find them.

Most customers use multiple channels to complete a purchase; improving your omnichannel presence is a must if you want to maximize the opportunities to interact with prospective customers. The goal of a multi-channel strategy is to give your potential customers the chance to choose where and when to talk to you and buy your product.

Not only the presence on social media is important to build a good community; it is necessary to find the right way to interact with your customers, using all the channels they are connected to.
And before you say, no, posting and tweeting are not enough to make your presence relevant.

Delivering meaningful experiences means having a cohesive message across a number of channels, and a continuous evolution as the data about your customers’ behaviors and needs increase. You need to keep moving fast to be one step forward your competitors.

TREAT YOUR CUSTOMERS AS NUMBERS

After everything you have done to make them run away from you, if they are brave enough to buy your product, you can always change their mind with terrible customer service. Treat them like a number, not the most valuable asset of your company. That is the ultimate recipe for disastrous customer experience.

Keep in mind that the customer journey doesn’t end when a lead converts into a customer. It just starts there. People will judge you for your ability to offer good and timely support to their requests, whether they need advice or fixes.

People consider bad service experiences like waiting too long on the phone, being rebounded from office to office, having to explain the same issue to multiple service agents, or having to mail back a product ordered online.

When your customers feel they are being ignored or underestimated, they will share their experiences with the community. You know what that means? Bad reviews. If you do not accept your customer’s feedback, remove them, or reply with rough words is the worst thing you can do to improve your brand reputation.

You might get an enormous number of mentions through social media, even launching a trending topic, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be good for you. “Any press is good press” doesn’t work for marketing in the digital era.

People want brands to take their responsibilities, to act wisely and kindly. They want you to break the rules only when it’s for a worthy cause, not to get attention. Invest in your reputation with a long-lasting relationship, or you’ll end up as a shooting star.

A very well known example of bad brand reputation is Comcast, that provides one of the worst customer service all around, with customers usually complaining about the difficulty in reaching live support and, last but not least, for the hidden fees and extra-payments.

EXTRA: CHARGE & CHARGE

Charging an extra fee to surprise customers is the ultimate step for the worst customer experience people have ever seen. There is nothing more irritating and disappointing than being charged an extra fee, unexplained and unexpected.

Customers want to be sure that all the information, prices and fees are clearly declared. Not acting in transparently forces your customers to contact you to get information or, in the end, to ask for a refund. It affects brands perception, and decrease loyalty. Is this what you want?

Ultimately, you must remember that the road to DCX hell is full of good intentions.

Photo by J W on Unsplash

Download our brand new report, Digital Innovation in Retail & Fashion, and discover why you must know and understand your customers before even thinking about selling, and how you can use personalization to deliver relevant experiences that drive loyalty and increase value.

 

Schermata 2018-09-17 alle 15.40.21

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Blockchain is certainly one of the most hyped words of the last couple of years. Everybody is talking about blockchain - often confusing it with the Bitcoin - and how this technology may change our world, and the way we do business, in the next future.

Decentralization, transparency and ledger immutability are among the promises this disruptive technology intends to fulfill. At the same time blockchain technology is still in its early stages of development. This is the first in a series of articles dedicated to this fascinating - but in some respects still very obscure - topic.

Among many blockchain networks already live, Ethereum is surely one of the most interesting and promising. From a technological standpoint Ethereum has been praised also by the Chinese Government in a recent assessment of blockchain networks.

Ethereum is a decentralised virtual machine empowered with blockchain technology on which developers and companies will deploy smart contracts and has the potential to become one of the cornerstones of 2.0 web architecture.

One of the major obstacles faced when analysing blockchain networks is that in most cases there aren’t comprehensive reports that take into account all the primary/material aspects required to assess multidisciplinary architectures such as Ethereum (IT, financial and legal analysis among others).

Many different elements shall be taken into account (such as the ecosystem the relevant blockchain network intend to deploy, the composition of the development team and the use of the funds raised in the context of the ICO) in order to have a comprehensive and useful framework to understand such projects.

Furthermore, following the issue of the white paper, many projects rely on blog posts, webinars and interviews to inform their communities about the progress in the roadmap; gathering and reshaping the information in an easy-to-read document is certainly not an easy-to-do task.

If on the one side one of the most common buzzwords among the blockchain / cryptocurrency community is “DYOR” (do your own research) on the other side most of the potentially interested people and companies do not have the time, knowledge and/or resources to do their research on a myriad of projects. In fact, DYOR means to carry out your own due diligence for each project, and if due diligence is not your core business it is likely that this will take a lot of time and effort.

Black Swan DAR is issuing a series of professional reports on blockchain networks that focus on smart contract deployment (such as Ethereum). Due diligence is an investigation and analysis activity carried out by third party independent professionals to evaluate risks and opportunities underlying a transaction.

All the reports are drafted under the same framework, in order to make comparative analysis easier and intuitive. The Ethereum report is divided in 10 different sections related to, inter alia, the ecosystem, the token and its function within the blockchain network, the team, the use of proceeds from the ICO, strategic partners, etc..

The first section of the report is an executive summary, in which the most significant issues and red flags arose out of the due diligence process are gathered. For example, with respect to Ethereum, Black Swan DAR notes that:

(i) Ethereum is an open source multi-layered project which purpose is to create a flexible and distributed platform for decentralized applications (so-called dApps) and smart contracts; the project is open source and is community-driven, with the Ethereum Foundation acting as the leader.

Ethereum combines a generalized peer-to-peer networking platform with a blockchain architecture to deliver a decentralized consensus-based, full-stack platform for developing, offering and using smart contracts and dApps. In order to achieve the flexibility required to deploy smart contracts of any kind Ethereum has a built-in fully fledged quasi-Turing-complete programming language;

(ii) the Ethereum framework includes several different components that, together, are the foundational layer for smart contracts deployment. Among the core components of the framework it is opportune to name, among others, the cryptographic tokens, the address system, the network of validators (miners), the consensus algorithm, the blockchain ledger and the Ethereum virtual machine;

(iii) as Ethereum is a general purpose, programmable, blockchain network, its reference market is the aggregate market for all blockchain applications, including dApps and smart contracts that may be developed over time;

(iv) scalability is perhaps the main issue related to blockchain projects, including Ethereum. The scalability issue was envisaged to be solved in 2017 with the implementation of the PoS (proof of stake) consensus algorithm. Unfortunately, the debate about whether to proceed with PoS and how to build the consensus algorithm is still open, and there is no clear solution planned for the road ahead.

Other sections of interest are surely the section related to the Ethereum ecosystem, in the context of which a thorough analysis of the project is carried out, the section related to the token, in which the function and value of ETH are explained, and the section related to the strategic partners of the projects, useful to understand which players are entering the playing field to support Ethereum.

It might be a breakthrough technology but it is safe to say that, today, the blockchain looks like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it and so claims to do it. These free reports can help you understand what the fuss is all about, and how you can do it safely and productively.

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What is the key to building a successful organization in the digital age? It will be discussed at Think 2018, the week-long event organized in Milano by IBM, a real journey through the world of cloud and artificial intelligence.

Dario Melpignano, CEO of Neosperience, illustrates how companies need to use technological innovations to build personal and useful relationships with their customers. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6 at 15:30 with the panel "Strengthening Customer Engagement with Artificial Intelligence".

The disruptive power of the digital transformation has involved - sometimes with overwhelming effects - every industry and internal function of the organizations. The smartphone, at the forefront of this innovative process, has stopped being a simple channel, to become a real proxy of the customer.

The path of change towards digital and emerging technologies has forced Brands to move towards an increasingly customer-centered model. Working on customer engagement means precisely this: delivering personalized customer experiences, overcoming the problems that derive from the fragmentation of tools and channels.

People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” With this famous phrase, Theodore Roosevelt had already exemplified the value of the customer experience well before the actual start of the digital revolution. You will never be able to engage and retain your customers if you do not know them in the first place.

As a matter of facts, accelerating digital transformation means adopting a mobile-first approach, identifying insight in real time and using this information to build and strengthen the empathic relationship with the customer. This translates into the development of personalized experiences that retain and increase the value of the Brand.

The future of customer engagement, with a focus on the crucial role of Artificial Intelligence, will be the heart of Dario Melpignano's intervention at Think Milano, in a panel moderated by Dicran Babayantz, IBM Watson Customer Engagement Business Unit Leader Italy.

Here is the complete agenda of the round table:
Wednesday, June 6 from 3.30 PM to 5 PM - Hall III

Campus:
Cloud & Data / Artificial Intelligence for Business

Speakers:
- Dario Melpignano, CEO at Neosperience, "visionary" and Mobile Digital Business pioneer for USA-Europe
- Laura Iacovone, Mktg Professor in Competitive Analysis Consumer & Shopping Behavior and Advertising
- Alessandro De Biasio, Partner and Board Member, Head of Strategy and Innovation Practice The European House Ambrosetti
- Alessia Scarpocchi, Mktg Director Apoteca Natura Strategies & Web Aboca Group

For further information about the agenda and to register, please head to Think 2018 official page.

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MIT Predicts The 10 Breakthrough Technologies For 2018

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When you talk about the future of technology, you have two different approaches. The first one is to look into the distance the way Sci-Fi writers do, working with the imagination to push the boundaries of what the human mind can create.

The second approach is to aim at a closer target, looking at what is already going on. This is exactly what the MIT does with its annual prediction of the 10 breakthrough technologies that will lead the evolution of business and society, starting from today.

The list has been published in the recent March/April release of the MIT Technology Review magazine, the reference point for everyone interested in knowing what’s coming next. This top 10 includes the technologies believed to make the most impact over the next 12 months.

"This is our attempt to alert our readers: These are the technologies that you really need to or should pay attention to next year, and also going into the next few years," MIT Tech Review's editor David Rotman told Business Insider.

What does it mean ‘breakthrough’? Scrolling through the previous 17 editions of the list, you can find a few key benchmarks for defining this term: mass commercial use, foreseeable mass commercial adoption and, most of all, the profound impact on our lives.

With the words of Gideon Lichfield, editor in chief of MIT Technology Review, “our annual list of 10 world-changing technologies invariably defies attempts to find an overarching theme. But a look back at the past few years shows a trend: we’re including more and more advances in artificial intelligence”.

There is no doubt that the AI will play - and is already playing - a huge role in the development of many aspects of our lives: the way we communicate and build relationships; how we work and find jobs; the strategy of businesses and organizations; how we take care of our health; the way Brands personalize the customer experience to appeal people's uniqueness.

3D METAL PRINTING

While 3D printing has been around for a while now, printing objects in other materials than plastic has been quite a dream (an expensive one). Now we are moving towards the ability to create large, intricate metal structures on demand; something that could revolutionize manufacturing, a new era for the 4.0 Enterprise.

ARTIFICIAL EMBRYOS

With the embryos, we face a topic hotly debated for its ethical and philosophical problems. And yet the research is moving faster than legislation and political debate. For the first time, researchers have made embryo-like structures from stem cells alone, without using egg or sperm cells, thus providing a new understanding of how life comes into existence.

SENSING CITY

For years we have heard about the smart city, but it is now time for an even smarter smart city. In Toronto, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs are already implementing sensors and analytics in order to rethink how we build and live cities. Sensing cities could make urban areas more affordable and citizen’s friendly.

AI FOR EVERYBODY

Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing in technology; there is no doubt about that. The only brake to its full application has always been the high costs of development. But now cloud-based AI is making the technology cheaper and easier to use, opening the market to many more companies.

DUELLING NEURAL NETWORKS

Right now the Artificial Intelligence can learn and identify things based on the processed data, but what if it could also have an ‘imagination’? Companies such as Google Brain, DeepMind and Nvidia are now matching two AI systems that can help each other to create original images, and generate something akin to a sense of imagination.

BABEL FISH EARBUDS

Google's omnipresence in this list shows that the company is not ‘just’ a search engine anymore. The Pixel Buds show the promise of near-real-time translation. The technology is still young and clunky, but it could help overcome the barrier of communication in an increasingly global world (in the wake of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

ZERO-CARBON NATURAL GAS

The brand new smart city requires a different approach to energy supply and distribution. The answer could be in a new approach to natural-gas plants, made to efficiently and cheaply capture carbon released by burning natural gas, thus avoiding greenhouse emissions.

PERFECT ONLINE PRIVACY

The most urgent issue of the digital era is the use (and abuse) of personal information. As shown by the Cambridge Analytica affair and the GDPR legislation, the road to the perfect online privacy is still long, but blockchain could help to make it faster. Computer scientists, in fact, are perfecting a cryptographic tool to carry out transactions without revealing any more information than necessary.

GENETIC FORTUNE-TELLING

Our destiny is written in our genes. This is science, not science fiction. The study of the genome can help scientists understand and predict diseases and human traits. DNA-based predictions could be the next significant public health advance, but will also pose an ethical problem. Will the next evolution of discrimination be based on genetics?

MATERIALS’ QUANTUM LEAP

What is the next step in the evolution of computing? Quantum computing seems to be the correct answer, as recently shown by the use of a quantum computer to model the electronic structure of a simple molecule. Understanding molecules will allow chemists to design more effective drugs and better materials, but the prospect of a new wave powerful computers comes with a question: What should (and could) we do with so much power?

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Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

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