Create Emotional Connections With Your Customers Using Data

emotional connections

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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Customer Satisfaction: “The Bad is the Service of the Great”

customer-satisfaction

While numerous companies claim that they are shifting their business model toward a more customer-centric approach, it is possible to find a few examples of such change.

According to the book Uncommon Service, there are two ways to fit into this kind of ever-changing culture: companies can either improve their service to better satisfy customer needs or convince them they need what they have to offer. The first one, of course, is the only choice that’ll enable you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation.

As a matter of fact, you need to learn to listen to the voice of your customer to gather enough feedback to act upon. The lack of comprehension between organizations and customers is evident if you look at the numbers: a Teradata report recently highlighted that only 41% of marketing managers are using data gathered by the audiences to implement and improve their strategy.

Common sense is often not enough to determine what your customer needs, data is gathered to benefit your marketing strategy and develop a new customer service model.

What should you do then?

We will start by highlighting a few essential concepts before we move on to the specific steps you need to take to stand out in a customer-centered ecosystem. Frances Frei, Harvard professor and Uncommon Service co-author, analyses the correct attitude of a business to succeed in this specific environment, understanding the financial model of your business is essential, but it cannot be what your company focuses on.

Yes, budgeting and increasing revenues are, but the extreme focus on them could harm the relationship with your customers. Understanding the needs and wants of your clients is a necessity when implementing a specific financial model. What does this mean? Frei introduces the concept of a “bilingual” business, a model where service impacts the economic model of the company and not vice-versa.

With this in mind, how do you revolutionize the structure and business model of your company to put the customer first?

Step 1: Ask Your Employees

Common sense is often overrated when it comes to interpreting customers’ needs. Companies often think the product or service is a fulfilling solution for each segment of the Customer Base, so they don’t think they need to validate that idea. And what is the first step to validate an idea? Ask your first customers, those directly involved with the Brand: employees.

Neglecting employees’ opinions and innovative ideas might lead to an increasing gap between the customer and the company, which then reflects on the customer experience. Your job is to test your people. Create small groups where creativity and equality are encouraged, find out what they think are the most important attributes of the product, what should be improved and how these changes might impact your base.

Step 2: Ask Your Customers

Directly talk to your customer base, ask them what their needs are and what they want from you. Find out why your competitors are being appreciated and where they are lacking. Use those answers to isolate the attributes that are valued the most and, more importantly, use the ones that are valued the least.

Your company can’t focus resources on every aspect, as the dispersion of energies usually leads to mediocrity. The lesson is easy: Have the guts to be bad, don’t be afraid of the weaknesses of your business, be bad in the service of good.

Step 3: Analyze Your Results

With the first two steps you have hopefully gathered tons of information and actionable data. Now it’s the time to strategize, to prioritize and develop a plan where the customer is the center. It is time to take all the data and find solutions. And you will neve be able to do so if you don’t share all the data with your employees and figure out a plan together. Use the Voice of the Customer to set up a brand new idea to implement.

Step 4: Act Upon Data

That’s it. It’s time to reorganize your resources and establish yourself. Apple knew their laptop was the best product on the market in terms of design and operating system, but they were also aware that it lacked memory compared to other options. Yet, it was not a priority for the people that purchased them. Be smart about your strengths and even smarter about your weaknesses.

These four steps give you a general guideline to better connect with your audience, to strengthen the partnership with your consumer by understanding what they want from you and especially what they don’t want. Don’t be afraid of weak performance, use that part that is not performing well and turn it into a powerful marketing lever that could possibly increase visibility and attract attention. Use the data you gather to change, evolve and develop a new model for your business, a model where the customer is the beating heart of every single action.

 

Photo by Lukasz Saczek 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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Create Value, Start by Listening. The Use of Voice of Customer

voice of the customer

Companies are increasingly aware that their value is the result of their customers’ value and the capability to gradually improve their loyalty, profitability and Net Promoter Score.

Despite the rising attention to the “customer obsession” and the growing presence of technologies that allow brands to understand their audience better, it is still hard for companies to achieve effective results, get closer to customers, and intercept their real needs and expectations.

What is often missing is the use of integrated development strategies that allow to listen to consumers throughout the whole product development process, creating a continuous interaction between Brand and consumer. The result would be a deeper understanding of the real market needs and the creation of an authentic relationship with the customer, a proper real partnership.

In addition to the need of containing costs, it is often difficult to manage effectively the results of a multi-channel approach caused by technologies that have disrupted the dialogue between brand and customer.

Unlike the past, the digital revolution has transformed communication habits and changed people’s lifestyles with incomparable speed; it is a change most companies have yet to understand, not to mention how to incorporate it within their strategies.

As a matter of facts, companies face a big contradiction: on one hand, the huge amount of data ‘generated’ by the Digital Age; on the other hand, the inability to keep up with these changes and the need to close the gap and align contact channels with current customer habits.

Brands and consumers have never been as close as they are today, potentially. For this to happen, however, there is an obligated path: companies must restart from the relationship with their customers in order to create value and identify the correct strategies within this liquid and highly unfaithful market.

The question is: How can you build value through partnership with customers? Here is our proposal in four steps.

Step 1. Build Identity: from CRM to Customer Intimacy

While the need to know your customer represents a true leitmotiv among marketers, the knowledge that would make this happen is, in fact, less common. You must go beyond a simple collection of data, and learn how to develop a person-to-person approach aimed at create a more personal relationship with your customer.

Thus, the real target is to reach an effective interaction between people and brands, which would allow you to understand consumers’ needs, anticipate their desires, deeply comprehend their identity, and highlight their emotions and real interests.

Intimacy with customer has to be the first requirement of your strategy!

Technology has significantly simplified how we achieve these goals, thanks to the variety of tools that increase the proximity between companies and customers: messaging platforms, conversational interfaces, apps and listening platforms. There is plenty of possibilities for a real omnichannel Voice of Customer!

Step 2. Tailoring: from Customer Intimacy to personalization

Customer intimacy and data analysis are at the key elements of services, communication and personalized products. Knowing the identity of each customer must become a pillar of your business, so that you’ll be capable to retain consumers and acquire new ones.

Marketers need to go far beyond the concept of service provision; the customer must be put in the conditions of creating a true identification with the product and the Brand. Today, artificial intelligence and machine learning make it possible to deploy solutions which efficiently customize not only products and services, but also communication.

It’s a matter of shaping the message, regulating its extent, tone of voice, and choice of words to fit each client’s profile and to increase its effectiveness as a consequence.

Step 3. Build engagement: from personalization to partnership

The realization of personalized solutions goes through a dynamic process of engagement with those considered potential beneficiaries, the customers. Thus, a marketing strategy that aspires to customer satisfaction has to include among its objectives the creation of customer engagement solutions.

How? Opening privileged channels with the customers in order to actively include them in the continuous improvement process (listening before talking). It is essential for your listening strategy to identify innovative and engaging tools that can guarantee bidirectionality, participation and commonality: for instance, co-creation activities, contests or crowdsourcing technology platforms.

Step 4. Build satisfaction: monitoring performances to create continuous value

The collection of the voice of customer is crucial for performance verification activities that represent an indispensable part of the continuous process of improvement. A customer satisfaction assessment helps brands keeping customers satisfied, with critical benefits to the profitability and the possibility of expansion.

Although most companies have used satisfaction assessment tools, there is often a mismatch between the moment of the brand experience and the moment they ask for a feedback. Today more than ever, it is extremely necessary to adopt channels and strategies capable of gathering the voice of customers while the experience is happening.

In addition to a greater reliability, the collection of contextual data will allow to differentiate strategies on the basis of the different profiles that characterize the consumers of each store or point of interest.

Effective tools that can be used to gather timely information are geolocation systems, inclusion of VOC paths within Brands’ Apps and notification requests related to the passage of potential customers and prospects.

The brand experience starts from the expectations that customers have created, which in turn depend on how much they are satisfied. At this date, every successful company knows that the creation of value begins by valuing their customers. You must listen, and the best way to do so is by taking up on every opportunity technology has to offer.

 

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

 

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Is Customer Personality the Future of 1-to-1 Marketing?

The new marketing is people-centric, and today companies need to gain a deeper understanding of ‘who’ their customers are, as people, not simply consumers.

However, even when they get to know their customers, companies still rely primarily upon what we can call "hard" data: socio-demographic, economic, and geographic data - sometimes they add behavioral data, such as past purchases and content views.

With a metaphor, we can say that if companies were humans, they would be people who use only the “left side” of their brain, the rational part. But what makes humans so able to understand and communicate with other people is the completion of that rational part with the emotional one: the “right side” of the brain.

Now, if we imagine what this right side of the brain is made of in the digital world, we can say that it is made of "soft" data: the desires, motivations, emotions, and personality of customers.

These human-like data have become essential today. To understand why, let’s see an example from a well-known marketing strategy that relies on a psychological principle: social proof, a technique that leverages our tendency to follow the majority, to look at other people’s actions and behave consistently with them.

In marketing, we want people to imitate desired behaviors, those that will lead to a sale or a conversion. So, we use the social proof principle every time we inform potential shoppers of what other customers do (for example, what they have bought) to convince them to do the same.

We often find this principle applied in the e-commerce world. Think of Amazon and its suggestions tool. Amazon makes extensive use of social proof: "people like you also bought this item"; "frequently bought together"; "customers who bought this item also bought" and so on.

Knowing what other people buy can be important to help us - as customers - to make good purchase decisions. But if you're a marketer, you should ask: is it really so important to all of us? Do we decide and behave in the same way?

An example. Think about a person like Hester.

1-to-1 marketing

Hester is a girl that wants to feel unique - in psychology, they say she has a personality trait called "need for uniqueness". She is creative, original, and a bit eccentric. She wants to feel special with everything she buys and wears; when shopping, she looks for different styles and innovative outfits. If Hester buys a dress and then sees it worn by someone else, on the street or at a party, she gets annoyed.

Now, think about the Amazon-like message "people like you also bought". Do you think that a person like Hester would feel engaged? Or is it more likely that she would get annoyed by the expression "people like you"?

That is the point. Today, 1-to-1 marketing is growing faster and faster. Market leaders such as Amazon, Youtube, Netflix, Spotify are dominating thanks to their ability to accumulate lots of customer data and use them intelligently.

At the same time, we have psychological principles - such as social proof, and many others - that are widely used in marketing but still applied in the same way to all customers.

In this scenario, what about individual differences?

We’re not talking about age, gender, geography, or past purchases. We’re talking about those characteristics that we, as human beings, can see in others and take into account when we interact with them. We’re talking about psychology and personality.

We have seen Hester, with a high need for uniqueness. Now let’s see Emma.

personalized-marketing

Emma wants to “fit in” the group - she has a personality trait called "need to belong". She likes to follow trends and, when shopping, wants to feel fashion. She is the typical girl who, when deciding the outfit, needs to see it already worn by friends and influencers on social media.

Maybe, compared to Hester, she would be much more interested in what other people (“people like her”) bought, much more attracted by messages that leverage social proof.

That’s why customer personality matters.

A good salesman who knows his customer's personality has a huge advantage: he not only knows what to suggest to his customer but even how to paint it. A good seller in the store would certainly communicate differently with Hester and Emma. So, why communication online should be the same for them?

Imagine the experience that Hester and Emma could live on the e-commerce site of a fashion brand when looking for a new dress and some accessories to match.

To be more empathic, that brand could highlight for Hester the most niche and exclusive clothes, that she could be the first to discover, with more powerful storytelling for her, such as: "Discover how to create your unique and innovative outfit for the summer".
With Emma, instead, it would be better to suggest the most popular and fashionable clothes, preferred by the community of other customers, with a more effective message for her, such as: "Discover how to create the most trendy outfit for the summer”.

What is obvious for a good seller still seems impossible for e-commerce. Tailoring the message to reflect a person's attitudes, motivations and personality is a natural process in "offline" marketing, and technology is rapidly evolving to bridge this gap, enabling companies to be more “empathic” with their customers.

There are lots of things that technology can do better than humans, especially those that follow the same general workflow: gather data, analyze data, determine a course of action, implement the course of action. Communication, however, doesn't fall into that standardized process for its intrinsic nature of being more powerful if differentiated, flexible, and tailored to the specific characteristics of the receiver.

That's why skills like persuasion, social understanding, and empathy are going to become our "competitive advantage" as artificial intelligence takes over other standardized tasks. But this also means that technology will always go further in the direction of learning, or trying to learn, the way humans communicate. Digital communication today is more efficient, of course, for the number of people it can reach simultaneously, but human communication is still more effective. Whether or not it will always be, that is an open issue, which is up to each of us to answer!

 

Photos by Tyler LastovichMarco Xu and A L L E F . V I N I C I U S Δ  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

customer lifetime value

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.

Photo by TNK PHOTO on Unsplash

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The Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends For 2019

Gartner has just released its insight for the ten key trends you can’t afford to ignore in the next year. These Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology trends are expected to impact and transform industries through 2023.

The core concepts presented are all about shift and change and disruption, as technology is becoming an inextricable part of our world.

Three themes dominated the speech:

  • Intelligence. Increasingly the engine that drives future capabilities. An intelligence-ai driven future;
  • second is digital, in an increasingly blended fashion;
  • then mesh, as the importance of ecosystems.

In 2019 we will look at these three things coming together in an increasingly integrated fashion.

1: Autonomous things
Whether it’s cars, robots or agriculture, autonomous things use AI to perform tasks traditionally done by humans. By 2021 10% of new vehicles will have autonomous driving capabilities.

2: Augmented analytics
Data scientists have increasing amounts of data to prepare and analyze. Organizations can miss key insights from hypotheses the data scientists can't explore. That’s why “By 2020, more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated.”

3: AI-driven development
Developers will embed AI into applications and use AI to create AI-powered tools for the development process.

4: Digital twins
A digital twin is a digital representation that mirrors a real-life object, process, or system. The focus today is on digital twins in the IoT, which can improve enterprise decision making by providing information on maintenance and reliability, Expect this to grow in 2019.

5: Empowered edge
Expect information processing and content collection and delivery placed closer to the sources of the information, with the idea that keeping traffic local will reduce latency. “Technology and thinking will shift to a point where the experience will connect people with hundreds of edge devices.”

6: Immersive technologies
Conversational platforms, which change how users interact with the world, and technologies such as augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR), which change how users perceive the world, will lead to new immersive experiences.

7: Blockchain
The blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, an expanding chronologically ordered list of signed, permanent transactional records shared by all participants in a network. Expect blockchain to take off in many industries in 2019.

8: Smart Spaces
Connected to the digital twins concept, a smart space is a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact forming an open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystem.

9: Digital ethics and privacy
Customers will have a growing awareness of the value of their personal information and will be increasingly concerned with how it’s being used

10: Quantum computing
Still not ready for prime time, quantum computing will evolve, as an exponentially scalable and highly parallel computing model.

Last but not least, seven digital disruptions you might not see coming in 2019, as they are infused in your day-to-day experience,
and their expected impact:

1

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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.

 

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Marketing and Soft (vs. Hard) Data – 4 Ways To Empower Your Strategy

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One-to-one marketing is a strategy of customer relationship management that relies on the personalization to foster customer loyalty and make a better return on marketing investment.

The idea behind it is that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to communication; so, treating each person differently is essential to be convincing, persuasive, and effective. To empower your strategy, in fact.

This is true between Brands and customers as much as between human beings. But, while people's capability to adapt their communication depending on the interlocutor is potentially endless, determined by their social and empathic skills, Brands often do not have this ability.

To some extent, this is due to what kinds of data Brands possess about customers, which are incomparably lower - in the number and types - compared to those that people have or can get.

“Demographic and behavioral information only give marketers part of the story they need to effectively segment a customer base. The problem with both of those types is that they do not tell us why people are doing things, which, as marketers, is the most important thing for us to know.” (Susan Baier)

By using only socio-demographic data, all customers that fall in a specific category (i.e. new moms, Millennials, Londoners) would be marked identically. These are necessary information but, taken alone, will lead you to a vague image of your customer, and few indications as to whether they will be interested in your product.

Adding “soft”, subjective and qualitative data to traditional “hard”, socio-demographic data like age, location, and economic status enables the understanding of who your customers truly are and why they make certain choices, so that you could envision what they will appreciate most and how they will behave in the future.

We are talking about customer attitudes, aspirations, values, lifestyle, and personality - so relatively stable information - on the one hand, and about their feeling, perceptions, and emotions - which are temporary and contextual - on the other.

Unlike hard data, soft data are not readily available. To find them, you have to dig a bit deeper into the virtual and physical touchpoints where your relationship with customers takes place.

What are these touchpoints? Here are four that represent optimal sources of soft data.

SOCIAL PROFILE
The social profile is undoubtedly where you can find the most heterogeneous information about a user: images, videos, text posts, self-descriptions, likes, comments and content sharing offer a comprehensive picture of a user's interests and way of thinking, but also of his/her hobbies, lifestyle, and personality.

WEBSITE AND ECOMMERCE
The massive amount of data resulting from a user's behavior on your brand's website and eCommerce can be analyzed and interpreted at different levels of depth. For example, for a fashion brand, information can go from what the user has purchased to what are his/her own style and emotional relationship with clothing.

STORE
If you think that customer analytics have to do only with your digital properties, you are wrong! By recognizing biometric and audio cues with in-store analytics solutions, you can identify customers’ in-the-moment feelings and state of mind.

For example, facial recognition technology and GSR sensors can be used to show:
• What areas of your store are most engaging
• Whether and when customer feel stressed or disengaged within your store
• What products and elements are most appealing
• What emotional reactions your store layout and your shop window generate

CONVERSATIONAL INTERFACES
Today they are almost exclusively employed as customer support tools, to answer simple questions and provide guidance in well-circumscribed domains, but conversational interfaces (the so-called “chatbots”) can potentially become much more.

If put in the role of "virtual interviewers", they become a new tool to perform market research, both quantitative - by administering a structured questionnaire - and qualitative - applying natural language processing to open questions.

What is important to be aware of is that your online and offline properties can offer much more insights than you already collect, and these insights can help you build a picture of your customers as "people", not just consumers.

Moreover, analyzing these soft data with artificial intelligence techniques enables you to build predictive models of consumer behavior and individual traits. Then, applying them to your content delivery system allows you to personalize messages, offers, and experiences based on the unique features of each customer, thus taking your one-to-one marketing to the next level.

Photo by Dương Trần Quốc on Unsplash

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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Nudge Marketing: 3 Psychological Strategies to Grow Your Business

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We are not always rational beings. Most of the times, we make decisions on an irrational basis, and afterward, we look for logical explanations to justify them.

The same as consumers. Our emotional states and moods play a fundamental role in determining our preferences and choices so that leveraging on these subconscious drivers becomes an excellent way for marketers to promote desired, more valuable behaviors.
In this scenario, nudging may make your marketing more powerful as it shifts the focus towards subtly creating new habits rather than explicitly asking consumers to do something with the promise of 'extrinsic' rewards - usually financial - such as discounts or prizes.

Most of you probably already know what 'nudging' is: a method that uses positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions to influence people's behavior, thus making a certain choice easier than an alternative path without the person actively being aware of it.

But, perhaps, fewer know what nudging is NOT:
- A substitute for marketing, which compliments but not replace. Simply put, marketing makes the need salient and creates the desire while nudging facilitates the follow-through.
- A way to mislead or confuse the consumer. Instead, it should be transparent to be effective.
- A trap or a manipulation, as opting out of nudging should be as simple as the tap of a button.

If McDonald’s employees are trained to offer only medium or large options to customers when taking orders for drinks and desserts and emit the small alternative unless the consumer explicitly asks for it, this is a 'bad nudge'.

We see a lot of bad nudges in advertising, sales, and human relations in general.

Good nudges, on the other hand, are those that benefit the person - whether it is the consumer or citizen - not (only) your business. And there are countless examples out there too: many schools in the USA are using nudging to move students towards healthy choices, as well as to improve learning and academic outcomes; some virtuous companies are applying similar strategies to promote a safer workplace culture; and the UK government has its dedicated Nudge Unit to encourage people to make better choices for themselves and society.

So, how can you harness the power of good nudge to grow your business too? Look at these 3 examples of easy-to-implement strategies.

COGNITIVE EASE

It is pretty intuitive. Our brains are lazy, and we are less likely to do something if we think it’s going to be hard – whether it’s losing weight, quitting to smoke, buying a product or signing up for a service.

One major reason is that perceived difficulty undermines people's self-efficacy - the belief in someone's capacity to execute behaviors necessary to achieve specific goals.

On the contrary, the perception of ease can be a powerful nudge towards engagement and purchasing, as it enhances consumers' self-efficacy and their intention to move on.

This way, Zipcar managed to go over a major barrier to car share use - the belief that shared cars are scarce and hard to find - by subtly showing to users on its website's map how easy a Zipcar is to find and use.

OPTION RESTRICTION

It may seem counterproductive, but streamlining your offer can help you increase conversions as you nudge customers towards making a decision, rather than being paralyzed by too many options.

For example, having too many social share buttons in a webpage or too many form fields in a drop-down menu cripples users' decision making, thus decreasing conversions.

The same happens in the offline world. An experiment conducted by the New York Times in a grocery store on two different Saturdays found that, after exposing 24 different flavors of jam on the first day and only 6 on the second day, purchases increased from 3% to 30%, meaning that the store sold 600% more jam by just reducing the set of options.

INTERNAL CONSISTENCY

Once we make a choice or take a position, we feel the need to behave consistently with that commitment.

That is notoriously what door-to-door salespeople rely on: they ask a series of 'easy-to-answer-yes' questions (such as ‘Do you think that a more comfortable bed could improve the quality of your sleep?’) and, once you’ve said yes to one, it becomes harder to say no to the next. They managed to get in; that's why this technique is called 'foot-in-the-door'.

Petitions rely on the same principle because agreeing to take part sets people up to make a more significant commitment further down the line, from a simple signature to event participation and financial support.

Nudging works most effectively when it is used for good, creating a “win-win” situation for both companies and individuals.

We've seen examples here that make one thing clear: nudging holds the potential to move the marketing paradigm towards a proper understanding of the subconscious drivers of consumer behavior. But it is equally clear that it works most effectively when used to create a win-win situation for both companies and individuals.

If this belief becomes a premise, the current distinction between good and bad nudging will turn into a separation of what is nudging from what is not. And naturally, this is our hope.

Photo by Caleb Frith on Unsplash

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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