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Designing a SMART Customer Experience

|Apr 8|magazine15 min read

Written by Mike Saunders, of DigitLab

In a world that changes constantly, business needs to understand that age old marketing techniques will not help you find, attract and keep your customers.

Technology has acted as a catalyst to drive our understanding of customer needs and desires. Customers wanted to be heard, to have a voice, to stand up for injustice, to promote great product experiences and complain about bad experiences.

Mobile and social technology gave consumers a platform to make these desires known. Brands and business had no choice but to take notice and respond with communication channels that spoke to consumers in a trustworthy, transparent manner that bought back the hearts of consumers.

Digital has highlighted a primary shift that consumers want business to make. To become more relevant, personal, useful and thoughtful. To design products and experiences that are actually useful and exciting.

In considering this challenge we need to redesign our customer experiences with these shifts in mind, while still considering the person at the end of the experience. To find a balance between the physical and digital experience, to blend the two experiences into one serendipitous occasion that excites and intrigues customers.

SMART Customer Experience is a framework I developed that speaks to the technologies that matter and the need to find the right application in your experience. A simple acronym in SMART - Social, Mobile, Agile, Researched, Transforming.

Social

Behind social media lies the consumer insight that customers want to connect with people, brands and business.

They want to be able to share in a conversation, to be heard, to listen and add value. This is evident in successful programmes like My Starbucks and Idea Storm by Dell ; where customers can add ideas to a network and watch them come to a reality as the companies interact with their customers to develop new products.

When designing an experience that is social we need to focus on the customers need to connect, share and contribute rather than just the platforms available.

Mobile

The power of mobile is evident in how many people own a mobile phone, but as wearable tech like The Dash, Google Glass, Pebble watches and Fitbit coming into the market we need to understand the fundamental reason why mobile is so important in our customer experiences.

The power is in context. Mobile devices (any mobile device) helps us create contextual messaging, immersive experiences and accessible information.

In designing SMART experiences we need to ask ourselves how we can create connections with customers that are more meaningful and that speak to them at the right time, in the right way and with the right message.

Agile

Agility is one of the most prized organisational goals. The ability to respond to market conditions and customer needs quickly is often what sets companies apart from their competitors.

Agility is one of the most important business attributes that will drive them to becoming more customer centric.

An agile organisation can learn from social business principles that help business collaborate easier and Faster with the right decision makers in the organisation.

 Internal enterprise social networks are useful to breaking through hierarchy, corporate structures and processes that slow down the initiatives that respond to customer and market needs.

I was recently subjected to a local banking process in getting a service activated.  The silo’s in the organisation had such poor communication systems internally that it took them three months to notify me that the service had been approved.

In those three months I had become more and more disgruntled at the bank for the ineffective and poor service delivery.

Whether business utilises social business techniques or not, the principle is clear that an organisation becomes more agile and customer centric when people in the business can communicate quickly with the decision makers in the business.

Accelerating employee relationships will create an innovative, customer centric business with the agility to solve problems quickly.

Researched

David Ogilvy once noted that he sees an “increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.”

Consumer Research, Big Data Mining, Online Conversation Tracking and a host of other research tools are only as valuable as the insight that they illuminate.

Customer experience designers need to focus on measuring the right aspects of their experience. To turn big data into smart data, research to insight and ultimately the opportunity to improve the experience.

Yes, we live in a world where we can measure everything. That’s does not mean everything is worth measuring.

Transformation

When a customer decides to purchase a product or service they are choosing to adapt their lives to include that product or service.

Customer experience designers need to look carefully at how they can help customers change their lifestyles to accommodate their new purchase.

A great example of how this transformation is implemented into a customer experience is found in the book - Smart Change, by Art Markman.

He describes how Procter & Gamble helped increase sales of the air refresher Febreze by redesigning a bottle that originally looked like a window cleaner bottle (and cried out to be stored in a cabinet beneath the sink) to one that was rounded and decorative, and could easily be left out on a counter in a visible spot.

Why build SMART customer experiences? Quite simply, SMART Customer Experiences connect customers to products and services in meaningful, contextual and purpose-driven experiences. These experiences will retain customers, provide easy mechanisms to share their experiences and turn loyal customers into avid ambassadors of your product.

 

Mike Saunders is the CEO of DigitLab, voted one of South Africa’s Top Digital Agencies in 2012. He is an international speaker and partner at TomorrowToday, futurists and strategists, helping businesses understand the digital age. Passionate about sharing and teaching he has also been voted one of the Top South Africans to follow on Twitter. Read his blog at www.mikesaunders.com.