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How Customers Find Ideas And Inspiration [INFOGRAPHIC]

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What did you do the last time you had to buy something? Who did you turn to for ideas and inspiration? When was the last time you bought something without looking for opinions or reviews?

The answer to these questions leads us to the fundamental role that mobile technology plays in our daily decisions, from the most important ones to those that we would have once taken without thinking.

In the last two decades, our behaviors have changed so deeply that we hardly remember how life was before the spread of Internet-connected devices. Making decisions was a long, sometimes hard process. Customers were more thoughtful but also less reactive and aware.

Today, on the contrary, customers have all the information they need at their fingertips, readily available on the screen of the smartphone, wherever they are. More than 50% of customers use their smartphones to search for product info and decide what to buy and where to buy.

This simple fact has made them more aware and fast than ever, but also less reflective. The attention span is lower than ever (barely 8 seconds), and this behavioral changes have a huge impact on the way Brands plan and execute their marketing strategies.

According to recent research, 78% of customers searching on mobile for a local business ultimately end up making a purchase. Technology reshapes the 4Ps of traditional marketing, and the experience becomes the primary - if not the only - business differentiator.

The spread of the mobile devices, connected objects, and digital services constantly rewrites the structure of the customer journey. Today, the touchpoints we used to cross only a few years ago have lost relevance, and new ones have emerged - mainly online.

As mentioned by Google in a report about the Micro Moments, in this fast-paced and crowded ecosystem, where customers can buy whatever they want online at a lower price, you can be successful only when:

  • You are there - You must show up where and when your customers are ready to choose you.
  • You are quick - You do whatever it takes to connect with customers before your competitors.
  • You are relevant - You can deliver meaningful contents, when and where it matters most.

Today’s super-empowered consumers know they can research anything they need or want online. But while people are still searching for specific products, they are increasingly turning to search before they have even figured out what to buy. Ultimately, they are looking for ideas and inspiration.” (Think With Google)

When Google was founded in 1998, on average it was serving ten thousand search queries per day. Today, Google processes over 40 thousand search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.

The disruption of search behaviors is caused by the evolution of technology but, in return, it can also become a vector of innovation. The perfect example is the algorithm of Google’s search engine, more and more ‘inspired’ by what happens on that (not so) tiny device in the hands of customers.

Mobile platforms now account for roughly the 60% of total time spent on digital media, and more than 60% of all traffic on Google search engine comes from mobile devices. These numbers are so relevant that Google has decided to split the engine into two - desktop and mobile - with the latter becoming the most important for your business purposes.

By understanding how people are searching for ideas, brands have an opportunity to get into their consideration set. Brands can think of all the open-ended discovery moments where someone is totally open to what is out there and make themselves visible and differentiated.” (Google)

Going back to the opening questions, a good exemplification of what has changed in how shoppers find ideas and inspiration can be found in an infographic featured on Think With Google. A necessary starting point to understand how you can adapt and improve your strategy.

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Topics: Customer Journey Digital Customer Experience

Travel Customer Journey - The Evolution Of Planning and Purchasing

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Brace Yourself; Vacation days coming!

Whether it is the summer or winter season, the desire to travel never misses the opportunity. For those who want to plan their trip, but also those who produce and sell vacation-related products and services.

The desire to explore the world has not changed over the last century, and will not change in the next future. What has evolved dramatically - in the last decade - is the way we research, plan and purchase our trips. What Google has called The Travel Customer Journey. A disruption made possible - again - by the smartphone. 

Long gone are the days when planning a vacation (a honeymoon or a business trip) meant you had to trust a specialized agency, with little control over the final result. In the nineties, the Internet has opened a whole world of information for the customers, and then mobile technology did the rest, switching the balance of power definitely.

Today, the smartphone is the first point of reference whenever we need to find the solution to a problem or the product that perfectly fits our needs. Travel planning makes no exception, as perfectly summed up by a series of reports released by Google on Think With Google.

As more research happens in the traveler's customer journey, there are more micro moments - when people turn to a device with intent to answer an immediate need. In these moments, the stakes are high for travel brands as preferences are shaped, and decisions are made. What happens in these micro-moments ultimately affects the travel decision-making process.” 

In our times of economic constraints, organizing a vacation can be tricky business:

  • People see the travel as an investment, and so take all the time needed to research the possibilities (mostly using their mobile devices).
  • Travelers usually worry they are not finding the best solution or making the best decision, even while they are paying and booking.
  • Even when they find a last minute opportunity, most customers bounce back and forth between destinations, websites, agencies, and price comparison engines.  

Customers are much more conscious and demanding than in the past. They spend more time researching and comparing the alternatives (in terms of destinations and providers). They go through a multitude of touchpoints and, even though they take quick decisions, ultimately ponder every single detail.

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If your brand plays in this industry, the task is clear and simple:

  • You must show up during the critical micro moments of travel research process;
  • You must be there, reachable whenever customers need your attention or help;
  • You must be useful, engaging them with relevant, useful, personalized contents and offers;
  • You must be quick. If you do not convert your customers, someone else will (namely a competitor).

The main reference for this article is the ‘Travel Micro-Moments Guide’ published by Google. The underlying assumption is that “travelers increasingly turn to mobile in real time and on-the-go, making informed decisions faster than ever before. For marketers, this means there are new opportunities to connect throughout the entire travel customer journey, across devices and channels.

Researchers have defined four main travel micro moments that matter:

I Want To Get Away - We explore options and ideas, looking for inspiration.

Time To Make a Plan - We have a destination, and look for dates, flights, accommodation.

Let’s Book It - We are ready to book and look for extra activities to reserve.

Can’t Wait To Explore - We prepare to live the experience, and share it with the others.

Given the premise, we see a huge opportunity for those who provide products and services related to the various the steps of the travel experience. The digital customer journey of the travelers has become more complex than ever, and so you have multiple chances to engage customers. 

Whether you are an online or offline business, you may tap into one of the main micro moments or everywhere in between those, proposing suitable and innovative solutions. In example: a micro-insurance delivered on the smartphone at the right time; a local transportation mobile app filled with shopping and entertainment suggestions; a conversational interface or Facebook Messenger chatbot that helps customers find the best prices or deal.

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Of course, mobile is the keyword to understand the new scenario, because the micro moments mostly unravel online: 

Recent data show that there are already more searches on mobile than desktop for select travel categories, such as family vacations and luxury travel. And when it comes to planning holiday activities, mobile devices are giving travelers increased flexibility. Many travelers are willing to plan activities on the fly, while they are at their destination. 

The optimization for mobile is mandatory now that customers take faster decisions and expect faster experiences: 

Over 90% of travelers using mobile devices will switch to another site or app if their needs are not being met. 79% of mobile travelers say that when researching on their smartphones, they are looking for the most relevant information available, regardless of where it comes from.

The continuous transition from the real world to the digital dimension generate a whole new set of data that you can use to get a better understanding of customers. When it comes to travels, in fact, not all customers are equal.

Also, this type of experiences is heavily influenced by the emotional and psychological traits. Data-backed psychographics research becomes essential if you want to sketch a proper customer journey map, build a successful digital strategy, and ultimately deliver truly personalized contents linked to the emotional profiles of the different customers.

Once you determine customers’ behaviors and deepest needs, you can anticipate their needs and desires. You will also be able to prioritize the right audience and target the most valuable customers with tailor-cut contents, notifications, and promotions. 

Travel marketers need to account for the new multi-device, multi-channel landscape. And those who are moments-ready—and consistently manage their share of intent to meet consumer demand—will take the lion's share of the reward.

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Topics: Customer Journey customer engagement customer loyalty Digital Customer Experience Mobile

The Digital Change Agent’s Manifesto - Revolution From Within

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How can you set the spark of the digital transformation on fire? We always stress the importance of change in the era of constant technological evolution, but more than often it is not clear who should lead this change. Who is the agent of drift towards the future?

What it means to be a successful change agent in the digital economy is the main focus of the latest report published by Brian Solis, analyst at Altimeter. The prophet from the age of Digital Darwinism has shared, once again, the opportunities and hardships of moving a Brand from the old patterns and habits. 

The report has a self-evident title: “The Digital Change Agent's Manifesto - How the People Behind Digital Transformation Lead Change From Within”. It starts with the awareness that technology and society still evolve at a faster pace than organizations. Even though they are investing in their digital transformation, most Brands are often too slow.

They react rather than act and anticipate the changes. The efforts of those who become the flag bearer of transformation “are often hindered by an organizational culture that is risk-averse and slow to change. Not everyone believes in change, however, nor that they need to learn or even unlearn skills and perspectives to compete for the future. Any effort to change comes down to people, and in the absence of supportive leadership, people typically form roadblocks.” (Brian Solis)

Behind this lack of agility, there is, of course, a cultural limit that should not be underestimated, but the main obstacle can be traced in the absence of a ‘digital change agent’:

In most organizations, however, these digital transformation efforts often take place in isolated pockets, sometimes with little coordination and collaboration across the enterprise. Even still, these movements are important and often driven by individuals who share a deep expertise and passion for digital and are ardent advocates of its potential to help their companies compete more effectively. These individuals are the digital change agents and they represent the future of the organization.

The idea of a digital change agent coming from within is powerful, nonetheless difficult to identify in today’s structured organizations. Who is this agent? Where does it come from? What should be his core capabilities? There is not a simple, one-fits-all answer to these questions. The change agent, in fact, is hardly someone trained to play this role:

While change agents are well-versed in all things digital, they aren’t necessarily seasoned
or trained at navigating the cultural dynamics that drive change in an organization. They
typically pick up leadership and change-management skills on the fly as they learn to face
and manage the behavioral challenges that often prevent colleagues from accepting their
perspectives, ideas, and digital innovations.

Given the premise, it is evident that there is no one type of change agent. Each one brings to the table different skillsets, goals, and aspirations, “but they all wear similar hats at different points in their journey, serving as data gatherers and storytellers, influencers and case makers, relationship builders, and champions of digital transformation.

What are the highlights of these digital agents?

  • Although digital transformation is one of the biggest trends in business today and companies are investing heavily in new technologies and innovations, many still do so as a grassroots effort driven by resourceful individuals — digital change agents — across the organization.

  • Digital change agents are passionate about digital innovations and ardent believers in their potential to help the organization succeed — but they are sometimes reluctant to step into a leadership or change-management role.

  • Change agents can rise from anywhere in the organization and often begin as digital advocates — employees who introduce or promote new digital ideas or products — and eventually progress to experienced transformers.

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The research shows how these agents should operate from a strategic manifesto to guide them in their digital transformation efforts, expedite change, and minimize complications and detractions. The agents move across different steps of a journey that unravels inside and outside their company:

  • Embrace being a catalyst;
  • Organize with other change agents;
  • Learn to speak the language of the C-Suite;
  • Make allies;
  • Spread digital literacy;
  • Create a digital transformation roadmap;
  • Link digital transformation efforts to business and individuals’ goals;
  • Set metrics and milestones;
  • Democratize ideation;
  • Capitalize on their own inherent “superpowers”.

As a CEO, you should always ask yourself what can you do to make the digital change agent feel less lonely. Of course, transforming and leading the organization towards the future is never easy but, when all the pieces align, there you will find the evolved digital organization you have been longing to achieve.

We strongly advise you to download The Digital Change Agent's Manifesto, a thoughtful, brilliant piece of research by Brian Solis.

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Topics: Digital Customer Experience digital transformation Mobile Customer Journey customer engagement Exponential Organization

Psychographics - Turn Mass Personalization into Customer Uniqueness

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Mass Marketing is dead, that's nothing new. In a world dominated by the culture of "Me", one size doesn't fit all. Customers - no matter what their socioeconomic status is - want to take center stage. They want to be loved by the Brands they love, in return for their loyalty.

If you are not willing to take care of your customers’ emotions, desires and needs, they will devote their soul and heart to your competitors. In this ever-customer-centric scenario, personalization goes from being a nice-to-have to becoming a must-have.

For over 15 years, one-to-one marketing (also called personalized marketing, or individual marketing) has moved in this direction to help companies engage with customers the right way, based on their needs, preferences, and behaviors.

Global players such as Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, to name a few, are well-known for being data-driven companies aiming at the customer excellence.

Netflix knows the ‘completion rate’ for a TV series; how many users started and finished it til the end of the last season; where the common cut-off point was; how long has passed between when they watched one episode and then the next.

And the data go even deeper: when you pause, rewind, or fast forward; when you watch a specific type of content; where you watch and what device you use; the ratings you give, what you do after any episode - if you leave the app or go back to browsing.

The same way, Amazon constantly analyzes what items you purchased; what is in your wishlist; what you search for the most; which products you reviewed and rated; and uses this information to recommend you additional products based on what the other customers purchased in the same situation.

Given this continuous evolution towards a more and more detailed knowledge of a customer’s ‘moves’ and features, the question is: What is the missing piece that will enable Brands to create a more intimate, long-lasting relationship with customers?

Tracking behaviors is a critical task, no doubt about it. However, it is not enough to explain, discover or predict the 'Why' of our behaviors, feelings, and choices, that is deeply linked to our inner world and is a consequence of 'Who' we truly are.

Who we are - our unique personality - affects our behaviors more than people think or realize. And even more than marketers do. Understanding this simple fact is the basic requirement to persona-lize your strategy.

A crowded place full of new people can excite an extroverted and annoy an introvert. An extreme sport or a transgressive experience will attract those who love taking risks, and scare those who avoid them. An open-minded person will be excited to try an entirely new product, while a conservative person will prefer to wait for that product to be tested by others.   

It is evident that we - as marketers - are missing something important, the human side of customers.

The interesting thing is that our personality determines not only what we like, but also our communication preferences and, consequently, what is most likely to persuade us. As empathetic human beings, we can flexibly adapt our language and relational approach from time to time, depending on who we are dealing with.

A good seller who understands his customer has an easy game because he knows how to communicate with him - not just what to propose but how to paint it.

As an example, let's take a personality trait known as Need for Uniqueness, the pursuing of differentness relative to others, that can be obtained through the purchase and use of goods and services.

This personality trait can be a key buying reason in various contexts, such as shopping for clothes. Some people usually look for items that visibly distinguish them from others, and when they realize that another person also wears something they just bought, they lose interest or even get annoyed.

Other people, on the other hand, prefer to blend with others - especially their reference group - and use their dressing style to emphasize this membership and belonging.

Now think about this. What if fashion brands had this information readily available for each customer, exactly as they already know the age, sex, and last purchase?

Would they communicate their offer in the same way? We hope not. Such information would radically change the way they see customers, interact with them and deliver unique customer experiences.

One-to-one marketing, as we know it, is surely getting smarter thanks to the huge amount of detailed data on what customers do across all stages and channels of their journey. But if this is useful, it is not necessarily exponential.

The innovation here does not come with the increasing of the data managed, but by introducing new ideas and criteria to evaluate those data (i.e. the Psychographics, based on techniques that have been developed and refined over 100 years of cognitive, behavioral and social psychology).

Mass communication is dead, and mass personalization is evolving to embrace the human side of customers progressively. Starting from now, an empathetic marketing strategy will take marketing and customer experience to the next level.

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Topics: customer engagement Customer Journey psychographics

Take These 5 Steps And Reinvent Your Customer Journey Map

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The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

With the wisdom of this Chinese saying, let's start 'our journey' to discover how the 'customer journey' has changed in the last five years, pushed by the evolution of mobile technology, and what this means for your Brand.  

The rise of the born-digital generations of customers (Millennials and post-Millennials) makes your traditional customer journey map obsolete. Every single map that you have used in the last decades is now useless. How can you recover?

In the digital ecosystem, everything changes at such an impressive pace that you risk losing sight if you do not get a new compass, a unique perspective to engage and monetize customers. The disruption brought in by the smartphone is unprecedented and requires drastic measures.

First things first, we need to clarify the difference between traditional customer journeys and the digital customer journey. We can simplify and streamline the two processes:

Traditional Customer Journey

Think of it as a (mostly) linear sequence going from the Awareness to the Consideration and then Purchase:

  • This funnel unravels across few touch points, well-known and presided by marketers;
  • The customer has a limited set of alternatives;
  • The communication is usually top-down and lead by the Brand;
  • Customer's choices are influenced by the 4 Ps of marketing, by routine and the trusted opinions of my closed circle of friends and relatives.

Digital Customer Journey

A neverending journey, not necessarily starting from the Attention/Awareness or ending with the Loyalty:

  • This funnel unravels across an increasing number of touch points, both in physical and digital worlds.
  • The customer has tons of alternatives;
  • The communication is always two-way;
  • Customer's choices are rarely influenced by advertising, price or routine. The circle of trust includes the online communities: social networks, e-commerce reviews, forums and blogs.

The evolution of technology reshapes the essence of the journey and this, in return, defines the pillars of your marketing strategy. In our ecosystem you should never underestimate:  

  1. The arise of young customers - the picky millennials and the elusive GenerationZ.
  2. The growth of connected technologies - trackers, wearables, beacons, the Internet of Things.
  3. The dawn of Micro Moments - real-time mobile interactions, driven by specific intents.

The digital customers are accustomed to living surrounded by connected devices that melt the offline and online worlds. They build their identity by interacting with their virtual and pshysical communities, and do not recognize any other way of experiencing (life, emotions, and relationships).

In our markets, made flat by the globalization, your customers refuse to be considered as part of an indistinct mass. Each customer wants to be treated as an individual. This rejection of the massification requires that you invest your marketing efforts on the personalization and relevance of contents and experiences.

Today, there is a question to answer: Why should people buy from you when they can choose from a potentially infinite set of alternatives? You are not simply battling against your neighbors; you are fighting against thousands of suppliers from all over the world. Even a great, unique product might be not enough to win.  

What then? The customer experience becomes the real key to differentiate your Brand, and the creation of a new customer journey map the ground to deliver personalized experiences. You need an innovative approach to the mapping of an unstructured journey, or your clients will still be strangers, inanimate figures you do not know anything about.

Luckily, you can still rely on a few basic requirements that have not changed ever since the idea of ‘customer journey map’ was considered for the first time. While the contents and the framework evolves with technology, you will always have to start your planning from these foundational elements:

Buyer Personas + Customers + Emotions + Research + Touch Points + Objectives + Measurement

On the one hand, marketers need to reach the customers when they stand in the early stages of the journey; unfortunately, that is the most obscure moment. The Brands usually know very little about customers' emotional profiles, and the traditional research methodologies does not provide useful data that show what clients were doing and thinking before - let's say - they entered your website or store.

That is exactly why you need a revamped version of the journey mapping. Starting with the following prerequisites.

RETHINK THE JOURNEY

Of course, behind a new mapping there is a new journey. Every single social and technological trend leads to the inevitable reinvention of the customer journey. There is no value in a map that ignores the different sources of interaction brought out by the mobile disruption.

The innovation extends the relationship between companies and people, to embrace the added value for both Brands and customers. Stay eyes wide open and willing to test and learn new means of engagement and fidelization; only then you will earn customer's loyalty and trust.

ENGAGE THE CUSTOMER

The foundational element of the journey is the traveller, of course. And yet, you might be surprised to know how many marketers still design their journey map starting from the company and the products instead of the customers.

Since the whole point here is to improve the relationship between your clients and your business, the only way you can build a map that actually works is to bring the customer's perspective into the process. Describe not the experience that you want to provide (or you think you are providing) but the experience that people expect (and you are actually providing).

UNVEIL THE EMOTIONS

The key is to understand how people take decisions and choose what to buy and how to buy. In a world where the smartphone has become the first screen and the attention span is lower than ever, not all customers are alike, and not all journeys should be considered equal.

People embark on very different journeys, driven by peculiar behaviors and personality traits. Each journey has different touch points that can be influenced by unexpected causes and intents. Individual needs, emotions and expectations lead to very personal behaviors. If you do not study these patterns (i.e. Psychographic profiling), you will not be able to reach the contextualization required to appeal each person. 

CONNECT THE DOTS

Mobile technology reshapes the journey, influencing both the space and time of the interaction. The smartphone reboots the entire experience of communicating, searching for information, and connecting with people and brands. According to Nielsen, half of customers believe that mobile is the most important resource in the purchase decision-making.

Mobile platforms already account for more than 60% of total time spent on digital media. Your strategy should think mobile and act local, combining location and behavior to deliver meaningful contents, wherever your customers are. Connect the dots to get a holistic view of the ecosystem.

UNLOCK THE (SMALL) DATA

While it is still hard to understand what customers think and do in the early stages of their journey, companies can now take advantage of something they did not have before. Something that shuffles the cards on the table: small data.

Connected technologies create a large quantity of information about the customer's path; you only have to find the way to unlock the power hidden into this information. The key is to match the different sources and step from Big to Small data. Always remember that the real value not the information itself but what you do with this knowledge.

"Activating customer journeys to capture value requires journeys to be treated like products that need to be actively managed, measured, and nurtured. How well companies are able to do that will dictate how successful they are in making customer journeys a competitive advantage." (McKinsey)

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

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty 

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy with the latest trends and advancements of digital customer experience.

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Innovation Project Management Branding Big Data Mobile Customer Journey

3 Areas You Should Invest In To Improve Mobile Experiences

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Today, we do not go online. We live online. Even when we do not use the smartphone, it lies there in our pocket, ready to get into action. This simple fact implies the radical change of our behaviors, as human beings and customers.

The customer experience is always also a mobile experience. One would be led to believe that such a revolution has influenced the way businesses operate, yet most of the times it is not so.

Many companies, in fact, still lack the vision needed to embark on the journey of the digital transformation properly. All too often mobile is seen as an afterthought rather than the cornerstone of the customer experience.

This approach is common to those organizations that are accustomed to conducting the “business as usual” and not for the future, to quote Brian Solis. They walk through the fog without landmarks on the horizon.

When you choose not to evolve, you think you can still market your products and Brand the way you used to. The truth is they cannot survive for long if they keep thinking and acting this way. Something disruptive happened along the way. The mobile disruption happened.

The traditional business patterns inevitably lead to a disconnected and inconsistent experience across the customer journey. You will end up showing different identities online and offline, making the relationship with your Brand a nightmare for customers.

What happens on your digital properties should have the same level of priority with respect to what happens elsewhere (namely, in your physical store). And yet, the mobile experience is still too overlooked.

In a recent data collection report published on Think With Google, a few stats brilliantly sum up this contradiction:

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A negative experience on mobile can alienate the customer preference. What does it mean for your business? First of all, that the entire process of customer experience management should have a common direction, whether it is digital, smartphone, point of sale, social media.

It is less important for a shopper to be present in-store than for the store to be present wherever and whenever a shopper needs them.” (Google)

Google is right at the center of this mobile revolution. Everything started with the definition of the Micro Moments, driven by a specific intent, that can shape the decisions and preferences of customers.

The evidence that the most relevant Micro Moments today happen on mobile devices has then brought Google to change its core business, the search engine, in three steps:

  • The mobile-friendly algorithm, that has caused panic and forced thousands of companies to run for cover and adapt their presence online in the name of a smooth mobile experience.
  • The AMPs (Accelerated Mobile Pages), that have started the process of separating the desktop and mobile experiences, inducing marketers to invest - time and money - in properly formatted mobile contents.
  • The mobile search index, the inevitable consequence of the new philosophy. The Internet is definitively divided into two separated experiences, with the mobile index destined to become the primary reference for Brands and customers.

Now you know that you have to embrace the winds of change, but where and how? According to Google, there are three areas you should invest in to improve mobile experiences.

HELP ME FASTER

Today, the scarcest resource is not money, it is time. The attention span of your customer is quite low, and your competitors are ready to fill any opportunity you leave unattended.

Thanks to the smartphone, we can take informed decisions faster than ever, and so customers shift their thinking from “Who does it best?” to “Who does it best, now?”.

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Your speed is essential at any stage of the customer journey.

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KNOW ME BETTER

You will never be able to engage customers and earn their trust and loyalty if you do not understand them in the first place. Knowledge is power, and you have all the data you need to accomplish this hard task.

Understanding your customers means not only mapping their journey and behaviors. It means also using the small data to define their peculiar emotional and psychological traits (Psychographics).

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WOW ME EVERYWHERE

Customers expect a consistent experience every time they interact with your Brand. Consistency is one of the key pillars of the customer engagement and becomes even more critical in times of mobile disruption.

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If you see the word ‘experience’ come out very often it is because the difference in the digital markets is not a matter of quality or price. You are no longer competing with other companies in your industry. You are competing with the best experiences your customer has ever had.

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

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: Mobile Digital Customer Experience Customer Journey

Retail Apocalypse - How Technology Will Help You Survive

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It’s the end of the world as we know it.” Well, at least for retailers. Today, they have to face their toughest challenge ever: Reinvent their identity, innovate their business and try to survive the Retail Apocalypse.

Easier said than done, at least judging from the rash of closings and business failures. Apparently, thousands of brick-and-mortars are shutting down, and foot traffic to retail stores is sagging. The only way to escape the fate is to tackle head on the underlying causes of the ‘Zombie Mall’ situation.

The term ‘Retail Apocalypse’ comes from the United Stated, where it began gaining widespread usage in 2016, following the closing of a vast number of American retail stores. Where are all these customers going?

Overall, over 4,000 physical stores are affected as American consumers shift their purchasing habits due to various factors.” (Wikipedia) This shift has brought to multiple announcements of plans to either discontinue or significantly scale back a retail presence.

Of course, the seeds of what we are living today were planted many years ago. At the same time, some countries have more obvious symptoms (the US, for example, where stores per capita far outnumber that of any other country).

A quick look at this chart published on Business Insider makes the idea of what is going on in this beginning of 2017:

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To tell the truth, not all analysts agree to believe this situation is so dramatic. In a recent article published by Forbes, the retail and tech analyst Paula Rosenblum states that there are at least five reasons why the ‘retail apocalypse’ is a click bait, a false scare story.

But is it? Honestly, there is one fact that none can deny (but many retailers still understate): the behaviors of customers have deeply changed in the last decade, and this evolution was driven by the technological innovation (mobile and connected devices, social networks, artificial intelligence).

With ‘behaviors’ we mean: How they search for information about services and products; how they connect with the physical and digital presence of a brand; how they compare the different solutions; how and where they finally purchase the product they have chosen.

Different behaviors demand different approaches. While the customers evolve, however, the retail brands often can not keep up with the change. To quote a post by Brian Solis, “The concept of future retail is constantly evolving. But what is not evolving as quickly is the understanding and widespread experimentation to bring the future to life today.

The disruption of retail brings with it a critical corollary: What really matters is not what you do but how you do it. It is not the new fancy technology that you think can save your business with a snap, but how you implement that technology in the complex of activities that define your retail customer experience.

In the era of Digital Darwinism, when you stand in front of a new business challenge, you have three choices:

  • Ignore the evolution and condemn yourself to the irrelevance (Business as usual).
  • Wait to understand what others are doing and what are the real benefits (Business for the moment).
  • Take advantage of the wave of disruption to face not only what is happening on the outside, but also what is not happening on the inside (Business for the future).

The majority of retail companies usually fall into the first two categories. They do not feel the urge to change a strategy that has so long proved effective; they are scared of the investments needed to move to the new approaches; they do not recognize an ROI hidden behind the digital transformation.

Unfortunately, the hard truth is that inaction always leads to irrelevance. For each brand that fails there is another brand that gets the spotlight. The competition is tougher than ever, and the race to success is mostly a competition for relevance.

Competing solely on products, price or features is not sufficient to gain a competitive edge. The new rules of engagement demand that you invest and work to reinvent your identity - starting from the physical store - and deliver a memorable and unique customer experience, online and offline.

How can you do it? Brian Solis (again) gave a significant speech a couple of months ago, talking about the ways for retailers to survive the apocalypse. The first step is to adopt a (new) human perspective and compete for customer experience, the main differentiator in the digital era.

We want to leave you with the video of that speech, not before pointing out the element that we consider the most critical: Invest in the trust economy, be transparent, and earn reciprocity through the facilitation of open engagement and commerce. 

 

 

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Topics: customer engagement Customer Journey Retail Mobile

Emotions 2.0: A Science Of Sentiment Primer

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Let me take you on a walking tour through the gardens of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, not to mention popular culture. It's just a three minutes walk that you won't regret.

Emotions are an evolutionary necessity that plays an essential role in ensuring human survival. Some basic emotions seem to be hard-wired into our human species, innate and invariable, notwithstanding cultural differences. In example, fear and anger have helped human survival by encouraging reflexive flight and hard fighting.
Enlightenment philosophers recognized that emotions are necessary to human life and to the cohesion of society. But as this understanding started to widespread, Romantics opened a breach between reason and emotion by extolling emotion.

Scientific investigations during the 1990s shed new light on the emotions and revealed them to play a major role of the human mind. Anthropology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience all contributed importantly to this understanding.

For example, until recently many scientists thought that emotions were a product of culture and that people from one culture would no more recognize emotional expressions from another culture than they would recognize words from another language.

This today seems incorrect: a few basic, shared emotions apparently are "hard-wired" to the human species, suggesting that emotions are not an impediment to survival, but a necessity.

In our "age of the customer, of abundance, of the fourth industrial revolution", emotions seem so essential to intelligence that efforts are underway to develop technologies capable of experiencing and communicating them.

In example, at Neosperience we are doing some incredible research on mobile and social customer engagement and purchase behaviors and:

- Big Five: a widely examined theory that analyzed five broad dimensions to describe the human personality and psyche: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

- Locus of control: the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control that they cannot influence, or that chance or fate.

- Need for cognitive closure: the individual's desire for a firm answer to a question and an aversion toward ambiguity.

If you agree upon the fact that building a great “Customer Experience” is so important to your company, then you recognize how customer emotions play a pivotal role in the purchasing experience. More than ever, today you have to understand and drive the important clusters of emotions that either destroy or drive added value and create loyal customers.

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Emotions have an extraordinary ability to focus the mind. Moods, longer-lived than emotions, are similarly effective, for better or worse. Depressed people tend to focus on failure. Anxious people focus on safety. Emotions also influence memory. Individuals in an upbeat mood tend to remember happy things; those in a sad mood recall sad things. Psychologists call this "mood-congruent recall."

Thus, emotions color the way people perceive others. An individual in a good mood views people more positively than does someone in a bad mood. Anxiety, which seems to bond people, is paradoxical. Consider the "Stockholm syndrome," which occurs when hostages show deep concern for their captors.

Those who lose part of their emotional capacity through brain damage tend to be easy victims for the unscrupulous. Forced to rely entirely on their logical reasoning, they make disastrous choices about whom they can trust.

Emotions even affect our proclivity for logical analysis. People who are in a good mood and have little time are apt to accept weaker arguments than people who are in a neutral mood or who have more time to consider the arguments.

Emotions are valuable and necessary. German researchers find that people who deal with several choices by picking the most comfortable, familiar option, tend to make better selections than people who take time for careful analysis.

Overconfident people may attempt more than reasonably reserved people. Although the latter may make more factually based judgments, overconfident people will succeed some of the time. Their very overconfidence may help them gain the trust of potential allies and helpers.

By training yourself to eliminate thoughts that provoke bad moods and to encourage thoughts that foster pleasant emotions, you may be able to gain some measure of control over our emotional state and lift yourself to become more productive and happy in your personal and professional life.

Blaise Pascal was right, after all; the heart has its reasons, and they may be completely beyond the reach of reason.

 

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Topics: customer engagement Digital Customer Experience Customer Journey

Three Questions For The Next Generation Customer Experience

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Sometimes we are so focused on what we need to do today that we barely realize that our efforts could be vain in the near future. This principle is even truer when it comes to the experience of your clients.

Today, everybody is well aware of the importance of the customer experience, and it can hardly be called a buzzword anymore. While we talk about the principles of the experience, however, they have already moved one step forward.

The discussion about the customer experience is always a discussion about the future of people, technology, and brands.

We are aware that the DCX is a top strategic priority for any business across the globe. We know that it is at the heart of every business decision that is made, from product development to advertising and customer service.

We know all this, and yet sometimes we lack a sense of perspective. The next generation customer experience is around the corner, maybe is already here; too many brands, however, still rely on outdated thinking patterns, and marketing truths that are not so true anymore.

What is the secret to engaging customers and foster their loyalty?” How many times we have heard this question! Every time we provide the same answer: To engage digital customers you have to be there when they need you; and you need to be useful, offering valuable contents on any channel.

It is less important for a shopper to be present in-store than for the store to be present wherever and whenever a shopper needs them.” (Google)

In an era shaped by digital screens and mobile devices, you will never be able to create memorable experiences if you do not recognize the importance of the micro moments, and the essence of the customer journey.

Being inseparably linked to the technology that permeates the environment in which we live and communicate, the customer experience is not to be considered an established fact. Its rules also evolve along with anthropological, economic and technological changes.

That is why, year after year, the digital leaders need to question their certainties and to find new answers to old problems

Few quick examples will get the idea of how easily you can alienate customer’s support:

  • When your customer tries to find information about your brand online, but you do not have a consistent presence, and this research becomes useless.
  • When you try to build a loyalty program but you do not have a mobile app, so you still employ the old techniques that no digital customer will use.  
  • When your customers open your web page using the smartphone only to find out that it is not optimized for the mobile experience, and it is basically unreadable.
  • When someone looks for you on social networks but you do not believe in Facebook & Co. because you cannot control them and you do not want people to talk about you.

All these worst cases translate into wasted opportunities. Opportunities to build a high customer engagement and conquer your client's heart. The engagement is the pillar of the experience, and the experience is the cornerstone of retention.

The next generation customer experience knows no boundaries. It unravels at the same time online and offline. It demands that you acknowledge the uniqueness of every single customer, in terms of behaviors, pain points, ambitions, history, and needs.

This introduction leads us to the first, probably the most important question on the future of customer experience.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN TRAITS OF YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?

Many traits qualify a successful experience. If we had to choose the two most critical elements, we would say ‘personalization’ and ‘omnichannel’. Personalization is the keyword to understand the digital age (just ask to Netflix, Spotify or Amazon).

The spread of technology generates an enormous amount of customer data, but the client’s experience is more than cold numbers. It depends on the ability to leverage data to personalize the interactions across the entire customer journey.

Here is why you need to ‘think fourth-dimensionally’ (cit.) and exceed expectations across channels. The DCX is not something that only one department should think about. It is a strategic priority that requires an integrated omnichannel approach to the design and delivery of the experience.

HOW DO YOU PERSONALIZE THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY?

Since analysts have marked the birth of ‘Me-Commerce’ it has become clear that customers love the personalization. The good news is that they are willing to pay more to get it: 64% of customers think that the overall experience is more important than price when planning purchases.

How can you leverage this fact to improve the engagement and ultimately sell more? Marketing automation software increases your capability to gather and process the information about your customers, but the heart of the question is what you do with all the data.

Technology is a powerful means of engagement (just think about customer-facing apps). Use it to personalize the shopping experience, offering tailored, contextual contents that match your customer’s interest, behaviors and preferences.

HOW DO YOU MEASURE THE EXPERIENCE YOU DELIVER?

Measurement is a sensitive topic for so many companies. Customer experience management, just as any other business activity, requires investment in terms of people and budgets. The problem, then, is how you measure your return on investment.

Even before that, there is another question: Do you measure at all? Executing your strategy without measuring the results is like walking blindly in the fog. You do not know where you are going nor if you are on the right path.

Today you have all the data you need, but even the most useful information becomes useless when it is not mined, scanned and readily accessed and shared in the organization. Determine the relevant KPIs, track and measure your metrics, and adapt accordingly.

You can find on the market lots of analytics platforms, and also data aggregators so that you do not feel overwhelmed. You have no excuses. The next generation customer experience is awaiting!

 

Need more insights on how to engage millennial customers? Download The Mobile Engagement Playbook, a collection of relevant insights that'll help you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation and grow your business exponentially.

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Topics: Customer Journey customer engagement Digital Customer Experience Mobile

The DCX 7-Steps Checklist [VIDEO]

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What is the most relevant contribution of mobile technology in the everyday life? We live in constant connection, in a world that unravels online and offline at the same time. The evolution of customer behaviors leads to the disruption of business.

Even the reluctant product-centric organizations must switch to a customer-centric approach, in a world where the focus on the digital customers matters more than any other strategic imperative.

How can you engage and monetize customers? How can you foster their loyalty and stay top of mind? When dealing with digital customers, the old marketing questions need brand new answers.

In a mobile ecosystem, the constant flux of emerging technologies shakes up the way you connect and communicate with customers. An excellent product, therefore, is not enough to ensure you a competitive advantage.

You need something more; something that shifts the focus from the inside to the outside. That is the moment when an excellent digital customer experience becomes your most critical differentiator.

The customer experience is the result of all the interactions a customer has with your brand, across the different stages of the customer journey, online and offline. This perception is extremely personal, but it can be influenced by your strategic activities.

How can you improve the perception people have of your organization? What are the essential qualities of the perfect customer experience? What are the requirements to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation?

To answer to these - and many more - questions, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a comprehensive methodology that will help you create memorable mobile moments for customers through every connection they have with your brand, all day, every day.

Launched in 2014, The DCX 7-Steps Checklist has since encountered a growing success. Now it returns with a new look, an introductory video that explains why and how you should realign investments towards mobile to reshape the customer experience and effectively engage and monetize digital customers.

 You can also download The DCX 7-Steps Checklist in .pdf version here:

Download DCX 7-Steps Checklist

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Neosperience Mobile customer engagement Customer Journey