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Digital Opportunities for Furniture and Design Industries

In this article, we will talk about the opportunities for growth and innovation in furniture and design industries 

Today, the environment in which the furniture and design sector is moving is complex. Although major trade fairs have been postponed, and many key market sectors, such as tourism and catering, are in difficulty, the rebound has been more positive than expected, especially as regards B2C.

Many entrepreneurs in the sector have said that - after the lockdown - they witnessed a flow of purchases 50% higher than the previous year. 

Although this is good news, which demonstrates the industry's unwavering value, it is nevertheless necessary for companies to address the changes that have taken place in the last period, both for the B2C  and - especially - the B2B markets 

In this article, we will tell you what are the best solutions to deal with the months and years ahead.

Online Lead Generation for B2B and B2C

As we said before, B2B sales to key furniture and design sectors are still in difficulty. Tourism, events, and catering were important items for the budget of many producers. Today these revenues have practically disappeared. 

It is, therefore, necessary to find - with the courage to look in unexplored “places” - new sources of income. 

Neosperience Customer Generator is the ideal tool to achieve this goal. 

The platform allows sales and marketing departments to automate and optimize the search for new leads. 

How? 

  • Keeping note of identity, company, and other characteristics of those who visit social profiles (LinkedIn) and the company website.
  • Analyzing their unique characteristics, such as interests and personalities (thanks to the Artificial Intelligence).
  • Automating the search for people and companies potentially interested, such as sector influencers (architects, designers, etc.) or companies operating in the sectors of tourism, catering, construction, events, etc.
  • Automating contact with these users and companies with personalized messages.
  • Collecting all this information on a dedicated platform, easily integrated with the systems already in use by the company.

At the same time, the Neosperience Customer Generator allows you to implement the same dynamics also for a B2C audience; for this purpose, it is interesting to mention the possibility of finding and contacting people potentially interested on major social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, as well as LinkedIn.

Finding new sources of income has become essential: traditional lead generation strategies, such as participating in fairs to talk vis a vis with prospects, are no longer feasible. Sales and marketing departments must move their activities online, using a tool that allows them to achieve quality and efficient work, and that brings certain and measurable results.

The physical store 

The physical store remains the most important touchpoint for the furniture industry. Being able to see and touch furniture and finishes is essential.

Today, the pandemic has forced brands to rethink the customer's visit to the store: it is essential to be able to offer safe experiences, but no less effective or engaging. 

When customers decide to buy new furniture for their own home, they are emotionally involved: it is an important choice, which will accompany them for many years to come. In light of the moment we are experiencing, it is important to remember the value of this experience, so as not to betray the most intimate and authentic side of our customers. 

The Neosperience People Analytics solution helps the sales network give the right weight to the customer experience, enhancing their purchasing behaviour, and ensuring that today's health regulations do not preclude the success of the Customer Experience.

How does it work? 

The solution requires high-resolution cameras in the strategic points of the store. The recovered images are then analyzed by Machine Learning algorithms that allow you to highlight the behavior of visitors.  

What information does it provide? 

  • How many people walk past the store
  • How many people stop in front of the windows
  • How many people go in and out of the store
  • How people move around different areas of the store
  • How customers behave, for example when interacting with products and promotions

Also highlights: 

  • Whether or not people wear the mask, and whether or not they wear it correctly;
  • If the maximum number of store presences has been reached;
  • Possible assemblies.

Thanks to the data retrieved, the retailer is able to find out which products, promotions, showcases, and physical dispositions work - and which do not. As a result, he can change - for example - the layout of the store to meet the visitor's natural behavior. 

In addition, real-time information on compliance with health regulations allows the store manager to intervene promptly to avoid situations of danger not appreciable for the customer experience.

Neosperience People Analytics can be implemented on its sales network or even in multi-brand stores.

Mixed Reality for Furniture and Design

As we have already said, the furniture sector must be able to make customers feel the products themselves. However, the majority of the public - at a pre-purchase stage - decides to inquire through digital channels

Usually, after searching Google or browsing some design magazines, interested users inevitably end up visiting the brand's website, eager to see and learn more about the products. At that moment, on that touchpoint, the potential buyer makes a decision: go to the store to - perhaps - buy, or continue the search. 

It is therefore essential that the brand offers an engaging and effective virtual product viewing experience, which stimulates the user's interest and convinces them to go to the store. 

This is true for B2C, but also - especially today - for B2B markets

The Salone del Mobile of Milan has been postponed until next year: many brands, large and small, have not been able to present their products. But there is a solution to this problem, and it's called Mixed Reality

The term groups two technologies that are conceptually similar, but different as modes of use: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

The first uses a tool - the smartphone mainly - to position 3D models of objects, even animated, in the surrounding environment.

The second instead needs a dedicated viewfinder, which - once worn  - projects the users into a totally virtual reality, where they can move freely and interact with the environment. 

What are the applications of these technologies for furniture? 

As Ikea Place has taught us over the years, there is no better tool than Augmented Reality to allow users to test how the furniture is positioned within living spaces. The success of the experience proposed by the Swedish giant demonstrates that the public is ready and wants such an offer.

Regarding Virtual Reality, this technology has proved particularly effective for B2B market. As we said, fairs and events are currently off-limits: why not offer buyers a virtual experience within the showroom?

By sending viewers directly to the interested agents, they can discover and interact with the new collections. Open a sofa bed to see what it's like inside? It can be done. Today, this technology has reached unimaginable levels of quality.

Enriching the pre-purchase stages has become essential. 

The value of customer experience - now increasingly focused on digital - is the discriminator between success and failure.

Customer Data Platform

Without going into technicalities, in this section we will explain the benefits of adopting a Customer Data Platform (CDP) and implementing strategies to obtain personal information of users and customers. 

Companies selling furniture, both B2C and B2B, often make a mistake: they forget to retrieve customer data. 

Why? 

As far as B2B is concerned, the motivation is only one: since medium-small buyers (architects, restaurateurs, etc.) turn directly to third parties, their data remain with retailers and do not arrive at the brand. 

As for the B2C, on the other hand, in addition to the talk about retailers (equally valid), there is another very simple reason: those who buy a kitchen, sofa or toilet hardly repeat the purchase in the short or medium-term; for this reason, many companies decide not to retrieve the customers' data to contact and retain them. The common view is that this is too expensive and dispersive. 

In doing so, however, the company misses an opportunity to establish a bond with the customer that, although perhaps not immediately, will undoubtedly bring advantages. 

Let's imagine that a lawyer - an amateur but passionate cook - has to renovate his home. He shows up at a retailer and buys his dream kitchen. The brand retrieves the new customer's data asking him to activate the guarantee on the corporate website. 

It then stores its data and inserts it into its Customer Data Platform. 

A few days later the brand sends an email to the client offering him a discount on a cooking course.

After a month, however, it gives him a discount code for the purchase of professional cooking utensils. 

The second month the brand writes to the client to invite him to participate in a contest: by filling out a questionnaire he can win a dinner cooked in his own home by a three-Michelin star chef.  

As time passes, a link will be created between the brand and the user.

When the customer has to advise his friends about which kitchen to buy, he will advise his own. When he has to change the cuisine in the beach house, he will buy it from the same brand. 

The same is true for B2B: perhaps the manufacturer in this case - after the purchase - will offer discounts for a partner's tiles, or to architects a masterclass with a famous international designer. The more benefits the brand offers, the more professionals will go back to buying. 

In any case, creating a relationship with customers is what allows a company to grow over time, with the knowledge that it can rely on a solid base of enthusiasts. 

This is precisely what the Customer Data Platform is for: to create relationships and make contact with the public easier, thanks to automation and customization, and to facilitate the management of customers and their data.

Conclusions

In short, for the furniture and design sector it is time to change some operational and strategic paradigms, to continue to grow and bring the quality of Made in Italy worldwide.

If you are interested in exploring the applications of Neosperience technologies in the sector, please contact us by clicking on the link below.

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Sentient Technology: feelings through sensors

tecnologia senziente

By Sentient Technology we want to highlight the applications of Artificial Intelligence that can read, interpret and respond to human stimuli. 

Man is an emotional animal; for this reason, humans  search for emotions within what they create .

In recent years, we have witnessed a wave of technology development  that seeks to imitate, or rather decrypt, human emotions.

A practical example to explain sentient technology is the case study of the Emotional Art Gallery, a Clear Channel Sweden project from 2019. 

The concept consisted of broadcasting some works by international artists on 250 digital totems inside the subway stations of the Swedish capital. The artworks were selected because they could reduce the stress level of passengers

For this project, developers created an algorithm that could recognize people's emotional state through the study of online and social analytics. Thanks to this "sentient" capacity of technology, users’ physical and psychological well-being improved.

Another example of Sentient Technology is the Ada project, an intelligent sculpture - made up of thousands of tiny LEDs - that Microsoft USA, with the collaboration of the architect and designer Jenny Sabin,  decided to create inside the Microsoft Research Building 99. 

For the project, cameras and sensors able to recognize people's emotions (for example by facial expression or tone of voice) were inserted inside the building. Ada can react to these stimuli through the continuous change of colors and patterns on its surface.

Over the years, sentient technology has also been applied to personal care. In a world where loneliness and depression are endemic, this has been proposed as a possibility to help solving the problem.

The examples are numerous, both for the support of young people and the care of the elderly. Interesting is the case of Lovot, a pet robot for every age produced by the Japanese company Groove X.

Designed to combat loneliness, Lovot can recognize emotions and interact in real-time with the stimuli it receives from the outside. Its surface is also soft and responsive to the touch.

Another interesting example, especially for its underlying software developed in Italy, is Zeno Robot. Behavior Labs, a Catania start-up engaged in the field of social robotics, had the brilliant idea of ​​using a robot, produced by an American company, to help children with autism to communicate and relate with the world around them.

Not all applications of sentient technology are related to the artistic or human cases, such as the two we have just mentioned.

In general, two different uses of this can be defined: one empathic and one analytical.

This technology was primarily born as the core feature of sentiment analysis platforms, used to recover significant insights about services and products, and to manage and recognize possible corporate crises.

Through natural language processing (NLP), enhanced - in the most advanced tools - by Machine Learning, these platforms can read in real-time thousands of posts on social media or web, recognizing the topic of conversation and, above all, the sentiment of the writer.

However, a simple grammatical error, a statement of context or a hint of sarcasm is enough to weaken the reliability of the analysis. The technology used is still limited and limiting due to the complexity of human language and the interpretation of emotions. 

Humanity suffers by nature from emotional illiteracy, especially in this digital and virtual age. We are unable to name the emotions we feel and to recognize the feelings of those around us; so how can we hope to teach an algorithm to be empathetic?

The sentient technology, if not used responsibly, risks becoming cynicism.

The following example can be interpreted in this way.

Not long ago, a Korean broadcaster streamed a show called Meeting You, telling the dramatic story of a mother who lost her seven-year-old.

During the transmission, the authors decided to recreate the 3D model of the daughter in a virtual environment.

The girl was built with the look, voice, movements and real feelings of the deceased girl. In the end, the mother was invited to play with her in this fictional world, to say goodbye one last time. 

A problem appears: a sentient technology that proposes itself as empathetic creates numerous questions from an ethical point of view.

How far can we go? We will find out over time.

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

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Digital Health. Last Trends and the Nestore’s case

Before I start telling you about the Nestore European project, to which we have dedicated some of our best resources in the last year, we would like to draw the lines of the technological and methodological innovations that are emerging in both public and private health sectors.

In recent years, medicine has demonstrated the effectiveness of revolutionary healthcare innovations, ranging from the invention of vaccines to the discovery of antibiotics.

It is interesting to mention the development of telemedicine, which allows doctors and patients to communicate remotely, and to exchange data from monitoring tools such as wearables and smart clothes.

Furthermore, Augmented and Virtual Reality are now able to help students with their studies, for example through virtual and interactive teaching programs, with the possibility of seeing human anatomical structure and operations where and when they want.

This has significantly decreased the costs and timeframes of health education, and perhaps it will increase the number of students enrolled in medical degree courses.

At the same time, viewers for mixed reality (in-between virtual and augmented reality) are spreading on several levels. Doctors can use them to make remote visits or to visualize patient data virtually and in real-time. 

The Microsoft HoloLens is the device that seems to have had the most success in the field; There are countless case studies in which they have been used both for teaching and as real-time support for doctors in the operating room.

Artificial Intelligence is also becoming central to the treatment and diagnosis of health problems. At the moment, numerous studies are trying to demonstrate it by searching for patterns in the medical records of sick subjects, it is possible to predict whether the same disease will take place or not in healthy individuals.

Although the results of these studies have been criticized by the international scientific community, the application of AI for health will probably make a difference in the coming years.

Future innovations, however, do not stop there. There are also the use of 3D printers for the creation of functioning organs, studies on the sequencing and modification of human DNA, and the creation of "living" nanorobots for the treatment of the most insidious diseases.

In addition to the technological applications that are emerging, Deloitte traces the path of future methodologies that health systems seem to have taken in recent years, highlighting three macro-trends:

  • Health systems will shift their focus from disease treatment to prevention and well-being;
  • The technological platforms will allow the free and safe flow of data of individuals, groups of subjects, health institutions and the environment around them. By analyzing these data, operators can make decisions in real-time;
  • Greater involvement of patients in their health dynamics will guide their attitudes and behaviors towards greater empowerment.

In the next few years, the biggest problem that national health systems, especially Western ones, will face will be the increase in the average age of citizens. As per today, the necessary budget for the sector increases every year; it’s necessary to change strategy and modus operandi.

Today, technology is the most practical and realistic solution for the previously discussed issue which it has shaped the three trends highlighted by Deloitte.

All three trends make up the fundamentals of the European project for the sustenance of the elderly, in which Neosperience is participating. Nestore is a health digital coaching program based on AI and Machine Learning algorithms. It takes the form of an application that users, located in the +65 age group, can use independently.

Within the Nestore application, there are some of the most innovative tools, such as:

  • An intelligent activity management system, which recommends wellbeing pathways based on users' habits and physical possibilities, integrated with wearables and environmental sensors;
  • Environmental sensors "count" visits from friends and relatives, to control the user's social interactions and help them not to suffer from loneliness;
  • One of the latest innovative chatbots enables a truly human dialogue between machine and patient, and which can recognize the emotions of those who use it;
  • An algorithm that recognizes food, and its nutrients, via the smartphone’s camera;
  • Personalized games to improve users' memory and reflexes;
  • A social network to share interests and activities among Nestore’s members, to live together and improve their mental health.

In general, Nestore's goal consists in improving users' daily lives by stimulating responsibility in behavior and a healthy lifestyle. Physical and psychological data are shared with doctors and health personnel, who are thus able to act promptly in case problems arise.

Nestore aims to be a useful and essential tool for public and private actors in the health sector in order to reduce the cost of therapies without sacrificing the quality of the service.

Health is and will always be one of the most important fields of application where it’s possible to test the latest technological and methodological innovations. Today, we live in times where the chances of a structural crisis in the sector are growing more and more; working to find useful solutions to avoid it is a satisfaction and an opportunity that makes us proud.

 

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Social Network and Blockchain. Control in User’s hands

blockchain

The Blockchain is a technology in continuous evolution, which never ceases to amaze for its endless applications.

What made it known to the general public was the birth and global spread of cryptocurrencies. Unfortunately, due to the lack of confidence in the reliability of this economic system, the Blockchain has not had an easy life in its affirmation process as a technology of the future.

But things are slowly changing.

Not long ago, Carrefour supermarkets implemented a Blockchain structure in its production chain to guarantee the quality of its products. A simple and intelligent way to bring the Blockchain closer to people's daily lives, stimulating their interest and increasing confidence in the system.

Today, another trend is taking shape, aiming to involve people more and more in this technology: the use of the Blockchain within social networks. The distributed database is used both to guarantee the security of users' data and to enable secure in-app virtual payments without banking intermediaries.

The most emblematic case of this trend, which caused a stir in public opinion, was the announcement by Mark Zuckerberg of the creation of a Facebook cryptocurrency, called Libra, to allow users to pay and exchange money.

The announcement immediately created fibrillation between the institutions, banking, and state, concerned about the stability of the international financial system and the protection of user privacy.

The risk of seeing the traditional banking system collapse from the ground up, or the danger of a reduction in tax revenues to which governments could meet, has immediately undermined the "legality" of Libra. Moreover, Facebook and its partners, having the opportunity to learn about users' purchasing behavior for profiling purposes, risk to endanger freedom and individual privacy.

The path to get to the launch of the cryptocurrency, announced for mid-2020, was therefore more difficult than expected, partly because some of the sponsors of the initiative, such as Paypal, Mastercard, and Visa (which had to guarantee the reliability of the project) had left the association, motivating the decision with a lack of certainty about its real application possibilities.

Yet it is not so much the idea of a "cryptoclaimed" social network that is badly viewed, but the size of the operation itself.

In fact, there are already tools that work in the same way.

An excellent example of this is All.me: an application based on the meToken cryptocurrency, launched in 2016 and counting more than 500 thousand users today.

How does a social network with blockchain solution work?

All.me is a single platform that includes some of the most interesting features of the Digital, namely, the creation of social networks, the possibility to earn from its own content, the sale and purchase of peer-to-peer and the exchange of digital currency. All these features are integrated into a single app.

Each component is linked to the others and integrated within the system to make everything safe and reliable. All.me is divided into five modules:

  • Social network (meNetwork) - Platform for sharing information between users.
  • Marketplace (meMarket) - C2C and B2C sales platform.
  • Payment Service (mePay) - The native cryptocurrency-based payment system.
  • Wallet Service (meWallet) - Area for the control of transactions and their balance.
  • Cryptocurrency (meToken) - The native cryptocurrency of the system.

One of the most important features of the platform is the full control of data by customers. They are encouraged to create quality content, receiving in exchange meToken that can be used to buy products on the Market.

The Blockchain for the decentralization of responsibility and ownership of tools, as happens in All.me, is the future of many fields, especially social media.

With these premises, a central organization will no longer be necessary to play the role of a controller who, with the users' data, ends up earning by profiling members.

This transformation offers a huge advantage to the people who decide to participate, as they end up actively contributing to the development of the product and controlling its value.

On social media, where many users feel exploited by organizations, this is a strength that can make a difference today and in the future.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

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Neosperience Tourism Cloud, China and digital tourism in Italy

Chinese Tourists

Tourism is a decisive voice for the health of Italian Economy. According to the estimates, expenditure for the year 2019 will be approximately 112.4 billion euros, up between 6% and 13% compared to 2018.

The greatest increase was in the Asian market, especially the Chinese one, with more than 20% attendance and one and a half billion euros spending. 

The creation of the Silk Road (OBOR) and the visit of President Xi Jinping's in Italy have certainly helped the Bel Paese to improve its reputation in the Far East.

What are the average Chinese tourist characteristics?

Tourists from China have some well-defined characteristics. First of all, they are very demanding, both in terms of services and contents. They are high-spending, young (60% between 20 and 45 years), with a male majority (60%), love the cities of art and willingly buy luxury products, especially clothing.

However, what unites every Chinese visitor is the tendency to use digital tools during the booking phase and when purchasing on the Italian territory.

The use of cash in China, in fact, is rapidly decreasing, while the use of mobile payment instruments such as Alipay and WeChat Pay is on the rise. Just to make a comparison, these two instruments have a billion and four hundred thousand monthly active users in total, while Apple Pay, globally, counts 127 million.

It seems clear that, if you want to attract Chinese visitors and stimulate their spending, the implementation of payment methods with these tools must become essential.

As for reservations, the subject is very similar; being strictly mobile people, Chinese users proceed to search for information through online platforms or applications, such as the above-mentioned WeChat.

In the future, a double-digit growth in visitors from China is expected. Today the Italian hospitality facilities must adapt to a market that is profoundly different from the Italian one.

To support this process, Neosperience has decided to develop the Neosperience Tourism Cloud, a platform for customizing and digitizing the tourist experience.

How does the Neosperience Tourism Cloud work?

It is divided in three distinct but complementary components. The first one, specific for customer acquisition, consists of a psychographics traits construction of the audience, through personal data recovery. The goal? To understand their deepest desires and suggest an ideal journey.

How are these data recovered?

Through the other two components: the NeosVoc platform (a tool for the Voice of Customer that uses intelligent, real-time questionnaires to manage, assist and advise tourists throughout their journey), and the Customer Data Platform Unbreakable Community, always enhanced by AI tools, to integrate all the data coming from different softwares and reconstruct the client's history, in order to predict his future behavior.

What does the tourist gain?

A unique and personalized experience designed on his needs and desires. Today, the customer needs to feel "central", and no longer just a guest, but a citizen of the world; from this point of view, it is important to offer real experiences.

And the tour operator?

Greater customer satisfaction automatically leads to better economic results. Online loyalty and word of mouth are the keys to succeed in the digital market. The possibility, thanks to digital tools, to reach market segments that are very distant both in terms of interest and geographic positioning should not be underestimated.

Neosperience for the Chinese market.

To meet the Chinese audience, we decided to welcome Value China in our family: an innovative startup and entrepreneurial reality, which has set itself the goal of facilitating the entry of Italian companies into the Chinese market and vice versa.

At the moment, the focus of its activities is on tourism. An example of what Value China can make with the right tools was the presentation, occurred during the 2nd edition of the International Congress for Cooperation between Chinese Local Governments and Italian Local Governments in the Chinese city of Chengdu, of a new mini-app that allows Chinese tourists in Italy to book and pay taxis via Alipay and WeChat Pay, thanks to the collaboration with the AppTaxy service.

The news was presented by Dr. Carlo Capria, President of the Council of Ministers - Department for the Promotion and Coordination of Economic Policy - and by Dr. Maria Moreni, President of the Italy China Link association.

Today, the growth of tourism in Italy passes through the digital and the Chinese market.

Neosperience has secured, through the Neosperience Tourism Cloud and Value China, a predominant role in the future of this field, to stimulate demand and services offer, beside products that are consistent with the latest technological innovations.

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

 

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The 4 Cornerstones of a Digital Business Transformation

Business transformation: two words that can mean all or nothing, and yet together they synthesize a trend - and a necessity - that is fundamental for companies.

 

A revolutionized market

In 1859 Charles Darwin published his masterpiece "The Origin of Species". His ideas subsequently expanded to many different fields, including Economy.

In the past, large industrial groups seemed unbeatable because of their economic and material strength. Today, the same assumption is no longer valid. It is not the most powerful subject that gets the best from the market, it is the one that manages to adapt faster.

The Internet has completely changed the paradigms of business: the democratization of ideas and products distribution has stimulated a formidable competition within different fields. Small companies that once managed to reach only local audiences are now able to get to the other side of the world, thus threatening large producers.

What the great realities have experienced directly, in these stormy and dynamic years, is the same lesson that the dinosaurs have learned. Too big to adapt to a new situation, they ended up leaving the planet to small and flexible mammals.

 

The new paradigm of Business Transformation

Adaptation: that is the key concept of a successful Business Transformation. But how can a large company, with the difficulties deriving from its human and production apparatus, follow the continuous renewal of market trends?

In order to answer this question we need to analyze what these trends are. Luckily, they can be summarized in two different but mutually dependent aspects: the focus on the uniqueness of the individual and the digital transformation.

The first concept refers to all the trends that in recent years have focused on improving the customer experience, placing people at the center of corporate interests. Nowadays, the Internet allows the user to exercise enormous power over the market.

The latter concept, on the other hand, is expressed in the renewal of the products and services offer, and in the business and private operations, which today are carried out mainly through digital channels.

These two aspects come together as a single concept: the Digital Customer Experience, also called DCX. It consists of all those activities aimed at giving value to the experience of the single person on every digital channel or touchpoint.

The ideal business, thanks to the new tools made available by technological progress, should implement projects on the DCX, both for the benefit of its customers and to improve the efficiency of its managers, employees and business strategies in general.

Digital media are the facilitators par excellence; avoiding to use them would mean losing the opportunity to facilitate the establishment of an engaging and profitable relationship between all the subjects.

 

The four cornerstones to remember

So, what are the four tips to transform and keep your business relevant, thanks to the Digital Customer Experience?

Simplicity. There is nothing more important. If a company intends to survive and prosper in today's market, the first goal to be achieved is the simplification of its operations, both for the customer and for the company. Waste reduction, better management of the work of employees and facilitation of operations to improve the customer (and employee) experience; the means to achieve these goals is the digital and the tools that this makes available.

Consistency. No lie lives forever. If you are not consistent in your relationship with the public and stakeholders, you can only get two things: lack of trust and confusion. Today, thanks to digital technology, it is possible to manage a strategic transformation to face the different aspects of communication and content in a simple, effective, and above all organic way. If you don’t have the expertise to solve your business problems ask for a transformation consultancy.

Empathy. People are not numbers, they are subjects with individual needs. Today, companies must respect their customers by offering them experiences that improve their lives, especially in the digital environment. At the same time, companies need to sustain an empathic relationship with their employees, so that they do not feel part of a mechanism, but members of a large family that takes care of them.

Fun. There is no such a powerful tool as gaming to make people happy. Offering your audience or your employees a moment of leisure will make the company a friend, not a seller or an employer. Gamification practices, implemented on digital channels, are a powerful tool for gaining involvement and loyalty.

 

The best practices of DCX are therefore able to deeply change the relationships between large companies and individual players. Thanks to personalized and valuable experiences, offered both to the public and the stakeholders, the image and efficiency of the company can improve exponentially, maintaining the advantages of a small company.
You don’t have any more time; start your corporate transformation now!

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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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Three Insights From The State of Digital Transformation 2018 – 2019

state of digital transformation

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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