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Biometrics - The Future of Payments And Customer Experience?

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What if you could authenticate your payments with a scan of your finger or your iris? What if you could take a selfie to authorize a banking transaction? Would you do it? Set aside all fears, the future of payment authentication is strictly connected to our body.

Biometrics are already considered the most important technology to transform how we make purchases, online and offline. An advancement that will improve security, but also shape a completely different customer experience.

If you take a look at the news of the past months, you will see a pretty obvious red thread: today, the traditional passwords are not sure, if they ever were.

Yahoo has reported three attacks in less than one year, with million accounts hacked using a forged cookie to bypass the user password. The same has happened recently to millions of Xbox and PlayStation accounts.

If your account has been compromised, you not only feel exposed; you are also in danger of losing all your personal data. That usually means other passwords, banking accounts, all sorts of sensitive information.

Traditional passwords are faulty in so many ways. First, they are based on the assumption that people will act smart for his own safety, creating a complex string. The reality is, most of the times the passwords we choose are simply lame (who said birth date?).

Second, they are easy to steal or hack. At the end of the day, they are just a sequence of numbers, letters, and keyboard patterns. Of course, a longer sequence will make a better shield but, then, it becomes harder to remember.

Third, they are inconvenient and somehow awkward. When you have to authorize a payment you do not want to waste your time typing a password made of more than twenty characters and containing upper cases and special symbols. This is customer experience at its worst. 

So, with their illegal behaviors, the hackers have fulfilled a role of public utility: they have shown to the world that we need other means of authentication. Especially when it comes to making a payment. That is why biometrics has become so popular in the last few years.

Philip K. Dick, one of the greatest readers of the future in Science Fiction, in the Mid Sixties wrote a story about a world where all activities would be managed by scanning one’s fingers or iris. You had to guarantee your actions with your own body.

At one point, the main character was not able to exit his apartment, because he had months of unpaid rent, and every single door scanning resulted in a failed attempt. In his dystopian perspective, the author had foreseen what is happening right now with biometric authentication.

Biometric verification is any means by which a person can be uniquely identified by evaluating one or more distinguishing biological traits. Unique identifiers include fingerprints, hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves, DNA, and signatures.” (TechTarget)

Fingerprinting is the oldest example of this type of authentication, and it is still today the most popular form of biometric. According to a 2016 research by Visa, two-thirds of customers want to use biometrics when making payments, because they think payments will be faster and easier.

Biometric identification and verification has created a great deal of excitement in the payments space because it offers an opportunity to streamline and improve the customer experience. Our research shows that biometrics is increasingly recognized as a trusted form of authentication as people become more familiar with using these capabilities on their devices.” (Jonathan Vaux, Executive Director of Innovation Partnerships at Visa Europe)

From the customer's point of view, today biometric measures have two major applications:

  • They can be utilized to log into the mobile app, adding an extra layer of security (i.e. banking apps that use voice authentication).
  • They can be utilized to authorize a single transaction, online via the app or in the physical retail store (i.e. Apple Pay and Android Pay that use fingerprints).

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We see a growing interest, and it is not by chance that Juniper Research has listed it as the most disruptive technology in Fintech for the upcoming years. Today, its success is due in large part to the proliferation of fingerprint readers in smartphones. In the future, though, other factors will get into the game.

One brilliant example comes from MasterCard Identity Check, a new mobile app to allow customers to authenticate and authorize a transaction taking a selfie. The ‘selfie pay’ enable app users to confirm a payment not only via finger scan but also via selfie recognition, showing their face to the smartphone camera.

To avoid any attempt to deceive the authentication process, the system requires the customers to blink, instead of just staring at the camera, to confirm that it is really their face.

We have long said that the passwords we use today are dangerous because they can be hacked and used against our will. What about biometric tech? One constant issue is that, unlike passwords, they cannot be changed. So, they have to be stored somewhere by the financial company to be used and reused without problems or delays.

This poses various questions about the privacy of the process and the security of the data. Regarding the first issue, let’s get back to Jonathan Vaux:

One of the challenges for biometrics is scenarios in which it is the only form of authentication. It could result in a false positive or false negative because, unlike a PIN which is entered either correctly or incorrectly, they are not a binary measurement but are based on the probability of a match. Biometrics work best when linked to other factors, such as the device, geolocation technologies or with an additional authentication method.

That is the reason why biometric payments mostly use a two-factor authentication, a security process in which the customer provides two authentication factors to verify their identity.

Three-quarters of customers see the two-step verification as the most secure means of payments available today. Customers, in fact, are not yet confident that a fully biometric process will be able to defend them against malicious attempts of hacking.

Then, there is the data security concern. Where is all this personal information going? Who is storing it? Are the data protected from hacking? Are there limits on the data usage?

The answers will decide the future of these technologies. Biometric factors are the most personal and sensitive. They can be used to streamline and improve the customer experience but they also lay open to abuse. It is our duty to avoid the worst ‘cyberpunk’ case scenario.

 

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Topics: Innovation Digital Customer Experience Payment Mobile

Retail Banking: Customer Experience Reinvents Financial Services

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How can retail banks and financial institutions survive in a world where customers only need fifteen minutes to open a bank account online? How can they attract and engage clients able to carry out transactions with one single tap on the screen of the smartphone? Easy, they need to put the experience in the equation.

Retail banking customer experience is not a recent topic. Without customers, there won’t even be the need for financial operators. What has changed, in the last ten years or so, is technology, and customer behaviors with it. In the age of digital and mobile, banks need to embrace the digital transformation and reinvent themselves to survive.

When we talk about the effects of the Internet and mobile technology, we usually focus on companies that battle in the consumer products industry. With the emergence of a new generation of customers (the so-called Millennials), however, every single marketplace has become more demanding and competitive. So banks are evaluated just like any other brand.

Today’s customers - empowered by disruptive devices and submerged in a world of connectivity - no longer consider their experiences in an industry-silo. They evaluate the experience following precise standards, regardless the industry: all brands compete against each other to establish a satisfying relationship with clients through a compelling experience.

What does this mean for retail banks? That they need to build a digital customer experience that is amazing not only compared to all other financial institutions, but compared to the leading firms in other industries. The implication is evident: If they want to stay top of mind and retain customer loyalty, banks must learn to build an improved customer journey and use it as a competitive differentiator.​

According to the Global Consumer Banking Survey 2014 by Ernst & Young, “in many ways, consumer banking is like other types of consumer activity. But banking customers expect more than an excellent mix of products: they are looking for superior customer experiences that fulfill basic expectations while providing added value.

In the survey - which included responses from more than 32,000 retail banking customers across 43 countries - customers selected ‘the way I am treated’ as the second most important reason for trusting their bank, following (of course) ‘financial stability’. Even more important, customer experience is also considered “the most common reason for opening and closing accounts, more so than fees, rates, locations, and convenience.

You are not judged by what you produce or sell as much as you are judged by the experience you create: it all comes down to this for companies competing in the digital arena. A motto that also becomes a strong invitation for banks and insurances to reimagine their identity, together with their retail strategy, content marketing, engagement, and loyalty.  

The scenario is rapidly taking shape in front of our eyes:

  • New customers - more demanding and tech-savvy, connected 24/7;
  • New competitors - online and digital banks, lowering the costs for clients;
  • New technologies - mobile banking and direct payments (Android Pay, Apple Pay);
  • New forms of payment - the infamous Bitcoins, the swap economy and the economy of experience.

What is the definition of positive customer experience in banking? In an era of mistrust in financial institutions, digital leaders need to bear this question in mind all the time. There is more to the building of a strong connection than the development of a mobile app and the speed of a transaction.

We know that customers constantly live - and move - across different channels, digital and physical. As they use multiple touch points to connect with a company, they expect that banking experience is built to be easy, fast, personalized and accessible wherever they are, whenever they need it and whatever device they are using. This requires a shift from the ‘account mind-set’ to the relationship with the customer.

Starting from what has been already done, and what we - as Neosperience - have accomplished working with best-in-class clients, we can trace five major areas of improvement:

PERSONALIZED JOURNEY

Today's customers should not be considered - in a marketing perspective - as a generic and indistinct group of financial accounts. Client's value is more than just the amount of money transferred and deposited. Delivering personalized experiences (i.e. with proximity marketing) across all stages of the customer journey, you will be able to manage a one to one communication, tailor-cut the experience and gather critical information you can use for behavioral targeting.

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY

Banks and financial institutions are already taking advantage of technology to improve efficiency and cut the costs. Now they have to take a further step, and implement innovations to create better experience. The purpose is to convert the idea of banking from a cold and frustrating experience to a simplified and streamlined one. Technology drives a change in how customers use their money (mobile payments, banking mobile app), and how banks change their essence (the Internet of Things, gamification, reinvented loyalty).

REAL-TIME DATA

"Big Data: everybody talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it." If there is an industry that needs to learn how to employ big data, that is banking. All information gathered through digital and physical channels can help banks to understand what their customers want and, consequently, elevate the quality of service. The best way to use big data is to implement an analytics dashboard to transforma data into actionable predictions.

INBOUND MARKETING

Financial services providers and inbound marketing are more connected than it may seem. Traditional advertising is too expensive, with a skyrocketing cost per conversion. The best way to attract qualified leads and guide them to conversion is to establish your brand as the primary source to find information and solve customers' problems. Content marketing - the core of the inbound methodology - allows banks to connect with clients in a non-intrusive way, helping and educating them.

SOCIAL CONNECTIONS

What do social media have to do with banking customer experience? Everything. Presiding over relevant social networks, a bank is able to show its human side, too often hidden behind bureaucracy and cold numbers. Facebook, Twitter and Co. allow you to build trust, provide a superior customer service in real-time (just think about Facebook Messenger), answer promptly to challenges, questions and threats. And - why not? - sell your products through social advertising and buy buttons.

Growing expectations and the almost endless pool of financial institutions fighting to conquer customer’s heart (and provide a wide range of products) mean that banks must reshape their marketing strategy, customer service, and CRM. The only way for banks to achieve a successful transition to digital is to focus on key areas to increase customer retention, raise the brand value and ultimately deliver amazing experiences.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How Social Commerce War Will Change Retail Customer Experience

To help you provide a strategic advantage to your organization, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download the free guide here:

Download DCX 7-Steps Checklist

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Financial Services Content Marketing Inbound Marketing Payment Big Data Mobile

Apple Watch: Why Your Digital Customers Love The Smartwatch

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Is the Apple Watch the innovation your digital customers are looking for? Sure, the smartwatch is not a recent invention, but only now it is becoming a business success. Estimates for the first quarter of 2015 talk about 3 to 5 million units sold. Add the multitude of Android Wear and you will have the whole picture of a promising market.

This could be enough for an answer, but the real truth always lies beyond cold numbers. Success or failure of the Apple Watch will decide the role of the smartwatch in the redefinition of digital customer experience and - as a consequence - of your digital marketing strategy.

We will remember 2014 as the year companies seriously approached the smartwatch as a business tool. That was one year ago. Now that Apple’s brand new watch is a reality on store shelves, it’s legitimized the entire industry. Setting the watch as the new trend, because that’s what Apple does best.

There has been much hype around the market, but not mass adoption yet. Things are destined to change very soon. Despite all criticism and skepticism, 2015 will be probably remembered as the year the Apple Watch became the object of desire. For brands and digital customers, for CEOs, CIOs and CMOs.

The watch, together with the one-touch mobile payment system and the Healthkit platform, is the product Apple is focusing on to establish the brand as more than “those of the iPod/iPhone”. And reshape (once again) the mobile customer experience in the process. A fair bet if you think about it.

The focus is - now more than ever - on the digital customer. The experience you deliver is the key to succeeding in this era of digital transformation, not the technology that enables you to deliver it. The reason why the watch is considered Apple’s “most personal device yet”, something unlike any device they have ever made.

New interactions, new technologies to empower the customer to do familiar things more quickly and intuitively. If you are able to adopt this approach - at the same time ordinary and revolutionary - you will understand why the smartwatch can really disrupt your business. The small screen won’t be a problem anymore, neither the price.

As the market grows, and the rate of adoption runs fast (faster than the smartphone, actually), early-adopter brands are already looking for innovative ways to include the smartwatch into their digital customer journey.

The stakes are higher than ever: the ability to engage high-spending customers, conquer their heart and connect with them when it matters most. When they are near or in the store, and ready to make purchase decisions. The essence of the wearable revolution.

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The realignment of your digital marketing strategy for this new era needs to start by extending the idea of mobile from smartphone/tablet to include this powerful new tool, the smartwatch.

One shiny object will shake up the wearable market, ready to cause a change in customer behavior and customer experience (both for B2C and B2B companies). The Apple Watch is way more than a self-tracker for fitness activities. As Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner, perfectly summed up:

There is a ‘killer app’ of sorts, it is convenience. Convenience mainly from being able to leave your phone in your bag, pocket or at home. Smartwatches put people in control of their communications instead of letting the smartphone be in control of them. Smartwatches have the potential to keep us connected, but in a more convenient way.

Where is the true value of the smartwatch? What features can you leverage to appeal digital customers?

APPS

Mobile app development, specifically dedicated to the watch, is still a territory largely untapped, but full of opportunities. Even with all their limitations, the smartwatch versions of iOS and Android offer plenty of features, both for third-party developers and brands willing to improve lead generation and customer engagement (i.e. see the brand-new Neosperience Watch Wand).

PAYMENTS

If mobile technology is changing the way we pay for the things we buy, there is no better option than the smartwatch to disrupt the mobile payment system. Relying on the contactless payment technology and unique security built-in features, Apple Pay and the Apple Watch have a clear promise: let you pay in a simple, secure and easier than ever way. Mobile companies fight for your (digital) wallet.

HEALTH

Say wearable technology and they will think about self-tracking. Though there is much more than meets the eye, fitness and health measurement make the core of many watch features (Healthkit anyone?). No wonder from the very first day all models have had built-in sensors that gather and analyze all sorts of personal data: activity, heart rate, walking distance. Healthy living is also a technological imperative.

INTERNET OF THINGS

Digital customers live in a world of connections, with other people, with the entire world and, last but not least, with the objects around them. The Internet of Things is the final tile in the interconnection between physical and digital worlds. The smartwatch could soon replace the smartphone as the primary method to control this world: smart home, smart car, smart office.

The key to the amazing experience your digital customer have been asking for.

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 4 Ways Virtual Reality Can Help You Improve Customer Experience

To help you provide a strategic advantage to your organization, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download the free guide here: 

Download DCX 7-Steps Checklist

 

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Future Neosperience Apps Payment Wearable Mobile Internet of Things Apple

How Social Commerce War Will Change Retail Customer Experience

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How would you describe the essence of social commerce in one scene? Imagine this: you open your Facebook app while commuting. You scroll the newsfeed looking for juicy gossip about people you barely know. A picture grabs your attention, showcasing a new pair of running shoes from your favorite brand.

Now that you see them in full HD, you definitely feel you want those shoes, right away. And there’s no need to close Facebook app; you just click on the buy button on the image and that’s it. A revolution for the retail customer experience.

This is exactly the kind of win-win situation all retailers are expecting to get now that all major social networks - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest - are rolling out e-commerce functionalities. What will become of the traditional customer experience in retail? It won’t be the same again.

It’s still too early to understand when (and how) social media buying will drive real numbers:

Even with the amount of airtime and media coverage social media gets, it’s still in a stage of infancy in comparison to other marketing and referring channels.” (Lou Paglia, co-founder of Jirafe)

Despite the difficulties - and the lack of results - of the first experiments, the buzz around social commerce is steadily growing, with brands eager to be first in line. The reason lies in the following numbers:

  • People spend more time on social media than any other channel, with 60% of this time spent on smartphones and tablets;

  • 74% of customers confirm they rely on social media to look for information and guide the purchase decision;

  • 33% of customers admittedly bought a product/service driven by a promotion or a new launch on a brand’s social media page;

While desktop and browser transactions still make the difference, a shift is happening before your eyes. Customers recognize social media as a primary source of information to discover products, receive promotions and find opinions in their trusted circle of friends.

It’s a fact: be it traditional brick-and-mortars or e-commerce firms, these platforms are now absolutely essential for companies that want to connect with empowered customers and boost revenues. With social-driven retail sales and referral traffic rising at a fast pace, sales officially join customer engagement as the main purpose of social media marketing.

SOCIAL RETAIL EXPERIENCE

Now that mobile connections cuts customers’ daily life into multiple micro moments - driven by very specific intents - the challenge for your brand is to show up in the social feed with the right content at the right moment. When customers are ready to buy.

In fact, social media buying brings in a whole new set of opportunities to revamp your marketing strategy:

  • Advertising: social media offer better targeting options, to understand exactly who are your potential customers;

  • Content: social networks now offer refined ads formats (i.e. Facebook Carousel) to enhance your content marketing;

  • Referrals: social media drive much more retail traffic than other digital channels, becoming the main e-commerce referral (a 200% growth in the last 12 months);

  • Data mining: no doubt that a key advantage of social business is the ability to collect sensitive customer data, to improve the overall digital customer experience.

When social companies started testing ‘buy buttons’, with the aim of attracting more investments in their platform ads, there has been no doubt that shopping was destined to play a critical (if not the most critical) role in the further evolution of social media.

The new generation of mobile devices (phablet, smartwatch, wearables) and the increasing interest in mobile payments have forced online players to enter the race to conquer customers’ wallet.

Facebook - still accounting for 64% of total social revenue - leads the way, but competitors are not just sitting and watching. Visual-focused networks like Pinterest and Instagram are, for their very nature, fully fitted for this kind of transformation. And do not undervalue Twitter, YouTube and all that will come soon: LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Xing, Renren, Snapchat.    

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FROM LOGIN TO CHECKOUT

Social login, social authentication, check-ins and local reviews served as first bite of the tasty dish to come. They opened the gate and social commerce inevitably came thereafter. And now social media are rapidly switching from opinions marketplace to products marketplace.

Not by coincidence, at the end of 2014, we have included social shopping in the list of the most promising social trends that will define customer engagement from this year on. Delivering real-time connections, social networks seem perfect to offer short term and personalized deals. If it didn't work in the past, it was because there was a missing piece.

A piece now displaying its full potential: the smartphone. We all know how deeply mobile devices are reshaping the way we live our life, communicate with other people and connect with products and brands. The impact is so strong that many analysts consider the mobile mind shift the biggest social and economic revolution of the last two centuries.

Buy buttons, shop tabs, buyable pins, sponsored products, carousel ads: recently we have witnessed a surplus of commerce-oriented features from social media players. What will really happen? Let’s see what major players have in store:

FACEBOOK

Mark Zuckerberg & Co. started testing buy buttons months ago, to strengthen the position as number one social commerce player out there. Brands love Facebook for its targeting data features; with the credit card management and the click-to-buy button, powered by Shopify, it could soon become a complete e-commerce platform.

TWITTER

Last September, Twitter presented its personal buy button, but customers didn't really noticed it. Now that the fuss is all about social commerce, the company will try to relaunch its e-commerce ambition. Right now they are rolling out new product pages, distinct branded micro-habitats living in the platform to gather all tweets about a brand or product.

PINTEREST

If you think that Pinterest is just place for fashion addicted serial re-pinners, you may want to review your position. Right now the visual social network is considered the most promising in terms of e-commerce potential. Only time will tell if buyable pins - that let users purchase anything they see on the site - will really turn Pinterest into the Internet's new shopping hub.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram is already a major choice to build customer engagement and brand awareness campaigns. Until today, however, it has been slow in responding to the challenge posed by social media buying. To recover and oppose Pinterest's strategy to transform viewers into customers, Instagram now offers a 'shop now' button, integrated with a checkout process linked to the official brand website. 

YOUTUBE
Pictures can be the ideal trigger for purchases, but innovative advertising still relies on great images in motion. That's the reason why YouTube decided to move its pawn across the board, betting that users will not skip pre-roll ads and shop instead. A risky play, that could pay dividends in the long term. It surely is a great opportunity for advertisers to capitalize on their investment.

Success (or failure) of social media commerce will ultimately depend on whether brands will be able to capitalize on buy buttons or not. One thing is sure: together with proximity marketing, mobile app development and one-touch payments, social buying will form the foundation of retail customer experience in the years to come.

To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.
Download DCX 7-Steps Checklist
Topics: Digital Customer Experience Social Networking Facebook Content Marketing Payment Mobile

Google I/O 2015: From Android M To Android Pay, All You Need To Know

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What we have witnessed during the Google I/O 2015 conference was nothing but Google's history in the making. Tech analysts already consider the last keynote a milestone for the future of Mountain View.

As expected, Google announced major news that will lead the company along the path to become more than a ‘search’ giant. From Android M (the new version of the mobile operating system), to Android Pay, from the Internet of Things to Now on Tap, the Big G aims at becoming your first reference in daily life.

During the years, Google I/O has evolved into something more than just a ‘nerdy’ meeting for developers. While the advancements in technology still make the core of the conference, any single announcement throws down the gauntlet in the challenge for the tech business throne.

No doubt competitors (namely Apple and Microsoft) were sitting in their meeting rooms anxiously waiting to understand what they had in store. In less than six months, Google has established itself as the key business player for 2015: Google I/O, in fact, comes right after the launch of the mobile friendly algorithm, set to revolutionize the way brands plan and execute online customer experience.

News, product launches and revelations; in case you missed the keynote, here’s a recap of all the highlights you may write down in your agenda. A wrap of all things Google that will probably change how we make Internet searches, use mobile devices, and communicate with smart objects.

ANDROID M

We start with the new version of Android, the company acquired by Google in 2005 to follow the experimental idea of an open mobile operating system, in opposition to the restrictions of iOS. In less than ten years, Android has conquered the world: 8 out of 10 smartphones sold in 2014 were running Android, a figure not likely to drop in the near future.

The highlight of the keynote is surely Google Now On Tap, a new release of Google Now that will include a more contextual modus operandi. Shortly, it can give users more information about the things they are currently looking at in any given app. A sort of contextual assistant that can help you do things faster. And developers won’t have to do anything to enable this feature for their apps, as it’s built-in at the operating system level.

As a result of its success, Android is slowly turning into different forms other than smartphones. The smartwatch is just the first example of this evolution7 new models of the Android Wear will be soon released, combined with 4000+ apps, including Shazam and Ford location tracker for your car.

Automotive is certainly one of the competition fields Google is focusing on to expand the range of Android. The smart car will become even smarter, with more than 35 manufactures and suppliers investing in Android Auto, to connect customers wherever they are, on the move (General Motors, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi to name a few).Android_Auto

The media and entertainment industry will also have its bite of technological innovation thanks to the spread - with new exclusive features - of the Android TV (Sony, Philips and Sharp are already in). And talking about TV, HBO Now is coming on Google Play: now you can watch Game of Thrones and your favorite shows on your mobile device.

As for developers, two juicy preview features of the upcoming Android M release are:

  • The ‘app permissions’ - giving the user a more meaningful choice of the data shared with the app, assigned and revoked in time, not once and for all.

  • The ‘app links’ - offering developers the ability to link different apps, to switch back and forth from one to another automatically, providing a full and seamless native app experience.

ANDROID PAY

With Apple Pay already changing the way we make purchase, the banking and financial services industry is on the verge of its biggest revolution ever. There’s a full business to develop, and Google doesn’t want to sit in the audience. The failure of Google Wallet as a mobile payments system has paved the way to Android Pay, whose promise is to create a more easy, secure and convenient way to pay.

To be sure Android Pay can compete with Apple’s one touch secure payment, Google is cooperating with financial institutions - American Express, Discover, Visa and MasterCard - and vendors - including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile - to pre-load the new system on their smartphones. Google also reassures that Android Pay should work with all phones that have an NFC chip and run Android KitKat forward.

Just like Apple Pay, the Android version will work for in-app purchases and traditional retail shopping. All security concerns will be switched off by the new fingerprint scanner support in Android M, that will allow users to unlock the smartphone with their fingerprints and quickly authenticate to authorize payments. Google Wallet will also continue to exist, but focusing on peer-to-peer payments.

INTERNET OF THINGS

Last but not least, a brief note on Google's involvement in the Internet of Things trend. Google is finally giving sense to its recent Nest acquisition by announcing Project Brillo, a first decisive step in this promising market. What is Brillo? We can define it as a new operating system meant to connect all Internet of Things devices.

Derived from - and based on - Android, the new OS has been developed to provide a low power, wireless solution that can be easily scalable to all types of Android devices. Together with Project Brillo will also come Weave, a new cross-platform language to communicate between the operating system, a device and the cloud. A communication layer that could become common standard for all things IoT.

And that's not all: Google will soon add to the equation Jump, the new platform - connected to YouTube and Cardboard VR headset - to help virtual reality take off and become a serious business stuff. The company is really raising the biddings, redoubling its efforts to hinder Apple’s ambition displayed in full power with the launch of iOS 8, Apple Pay and the Apple Watch.

What started as a technological collaboration, then evolved into a battle of operating systems (Android versus iOS), has now become a war between two totally different business models and customer experience strategies.

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Google's 3 Tech Trends For 2015 To Improve Digital Customer Experience

To help you provide a strategic advantage to your organization, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download the free guide here:
Download DCX 7-Steps Checklist
Topics: Digital Customer Experience Innovation Automotive Android Payment Wearable Cloud Mobile Internet of Things

10 Inventions That Will Revolutionize Retail Customer Experience

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The future is already here. It is just not evenly distributed.” This quote by the cyberspace guru writer William Gibson introduced one of the most intriguing panels of the 2015 SXSWSouth by Southwest - schedule.

10 inventions that will revolutionize retail’ - behind this title lies the question so many entrepreneurs are afraid to ask: What does the future of retail hold? Technology disruption changes the rules of production and distribution, and brands need to evolve accordingly, if they want to survive the retail revolution.

The speech by David Roth, CEO of WPP The Store, and Jon Bird, Global Director at Y&R LabStore, is just the starting point for a wider consideration about the evolution of retail customer experience (a crucial topic that we have covered many times). If you look back at the past 50 years, what you see is that brick-and-mortars retail companies have basically followed the same rules over and over, with only slow and gradual changes.

For decades, advertising, product improvement, price and production efficiency have represented the core of all marketing strategies. Push communications and ‘powerless’ consumers were the two sides of the same business coin, and clients were called ‘target’ and clustered into generic and undefined categories. Today, the balance of forces has already changed, putting the customer on center stage and giving birth to the so-called Age of the Customer.

This trend is only destined to accelerate in the current era of rapid technological advancement, where Internet and mobile devices act as catalysts for a massive change in the retail industry. As the SXSW conference made evident, over the next 10 years there is going to be more change than in the last 50 years. Price and products are not enough to differentiate yourself from competitors in the new world that is taking shape, where objects will have the greatest impact on our shopping experience.

SXSWpicture

Shown below are the 10 tech inventions highlighted by the SXSW panel, and their main consequences on digital customer experience:

VIRTUAL AUGMENTED STORES

The idea of traditional store is meaningless in an world where physical and digital merge into a new level of experience influenced by virtual reality. The enduring success of the Oculus Rift and the launch of Microsoft HoloLens will open new possibilities for retailers: holostores, augmented reality, digital purchases. Neosperience Showroom is the perfect example of how to make your brand and products come alive in immersive 3D reality environments, to deliver powerful experiences.

SHOP & SERVE ANYWHERE

One number says it all: mobile commerce is destined to rise to $62 billion dollars in the next five years. The Internet is already the primary source of information for customers in the decision process. It is also slowly becoming the first reference for purchases. 'Store' doesn't mean just brick-and-mortars anymore. Your online presence is crucial to offer personalized shopping experiences in an omni-channel retail view (mobile first, of course).

DIGITAL SMART STORE

E-Commerce is putting traditional retail on a critical threshold: evolve or die. How can they answer back? Changing the very concept of location and updating the four concrete walls of a shop to the digital needs of empowered customers. The Internet of Things is the final frontier in connecting customers and brands, building engagement through personalization. Here's how to say goodbye to the old layout: 

  • Smart Vending - connected and built to communicate with customers and other machines. A good case study is the Nespresso boutique in Barcelona, a big vending machine store.
  • Sentient Stores - the iBeacon technology is rapidly becoming the standard in traditional stores. Beacons enable you to engage customers with context-aware contents and personalized offers and notifications.
  • Intelligent Shelves - shelves won't be just places to display products. They will ultimately recognize the customer, connect and interact with mobile devices to understand his/her needs and wants in that exact moment.
  • Artificial Intelligence - the interconnection of objects, made smart by the Internet, brings the concept of 'artificial intelligence' back to attention. Futuristic designers see the advanced store as a sentient entity with a beating heart of chips, wires and bytes. 

ON-DEMAND MERCHANDISE

Since the globalization became the major force in Western economies, many insisted that the world has become flat. Actually, the only things going flat are products price and quality. In the Age of the Customer, needs and desires are all but flat: now that they can have whatever they want whenever they want it, customers look for personalized contents and products. Online and offline. That's why we are facing the era of Me-Commerce (even more true when we talk about millennials).

OFF THE GRID RETAIL

If your strategy can't be just centered around the traditional 4 P's of marketing, you need something different to build a distinct brand image and remain the focus of customer's attention. Success will shine out for entrepreneurs that will take a distinctly ‘outside the box’ path to innovation. Again, there is another 'P' you should always include in your strategy: personalization. A tailored shopping experience is the real brand differentiator, when customers demand compelling experience not just useful products.

MOBILE PAYMENTS

All analysts agree that the use of Internet and mobile devices will change the way we buy things, and - even more important - the way we pay for products or services. Credit and debit cards will still be the standard in the coming years, but new technologies are at work to offer a more easy, fast and secure access to payments. The last stage of the customer journey is undergoing a fast development thanks to the NFC and the Apple Pay system, that will finally make the wearable revolution the real deal for investors.

VIBRANT DATA

Smart machines can communicate without human intervention. An ecosystem of smartphones, smartwatches, activity trackers, iBeacons, geo-fencing tools, virtual reality headsets (and so on) that creates data, gathered and ready to be used. Big data is the name of this amount of information about customers, production and sales: numbers that you must learn to scan and analyze to make better strategic decisions, improve the customer experience, reduce inefficiency and - ultimately - increase sales.

As a result of all innovation forces, the retail world is increasingly globalized, digitized, polarized and personalized. Too many retailers instinctively react to these challenges using the old easy way out to close under-performing stores, but the resolution is somewhere else: in the reinvention of the physical store and the adoption of those disruptive inventions that drive digital innovation and revolutionize retail as we know it.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Retail Marketing Strategy - 5 Steps To Renew Customer Experience

To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.Download the DCX 7-Steps Checklist

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Future Innovation Neosperience Retail Payment Big Data Mobile Internet of Things

Top 10 Disruptive Technology Trends Reshaping Customer Experience

tech_trends_2015

Disruption is something that creates a revolution for markets, and technology is the primary source of disruption. To say it with Brian Solis, “disruption is not something we set out to do. It is something that happens because of what we do”. So, innovation is disruption that changes human behaviors and blends together both design-thinking and system-thinking. To understand what lies behind the corner, we need to analyze the disruptive technology trends that will reshape customer experience from 2015 on. 

The market scenario in which we all move is clear: the mobile mind shift has caused a transfer of power from companies to customers, giving birth to the Age of the Customer. Thanks to disruptive technologies - from smartphone to wearables and virtual reality headsets - life now blends both digital and physical environments in a continual sequence of mobile moments. Brands feel the urge to adapt to this evolution, focusing their marketing strategy on the client and taking advantage of innovations.

A couple of weeks ago Brian Solis gave a speech at the CES Brand Innovators event. The well-known digital marketing analyst presented his thoughts on what awaits us in terms of technology disruption in 2015 and 2016. The result is list of a 25 elements definitely worth exploring (you can see it in his Slideshare presentation). By his own admission, it’s not complete (it's hard to foresee what will really happen). His list is the main reference for our own: we chose the top 10 disruptive technology trends 2015 that involve the digital customer experience evolution, to understand how they influence customers’ life and your strategy.

1. Social Media - as new and old social networks become part of our ecosystem, your content marketing must ‘evolve to involve’ social relations into the customer journey map. Real-time connections with clients are more and more vital to stay top of mind.

2. Chinese Revolution - this is something we have already pointed out before. China can't be considered just a source of cheap labor anymore; it is rapidly becoming the land of innovation, driving the rise of new mobile giants and becoming the perfect field for start-ups.

3. The Internet of Things - we know that the intercommunication of smart objects will open new - and somewhat unexpected - opportunities. The next step, Solis says, is the passage from the Internet of Things to the Internet of Everything. By 2020, 40 billion devices will connect people, machines and objects.

4. Wearables - new fancy wearable devices come out every week; the market is in full swing but brands still struggle to find a place for wearables in their digital marketing strategy. The arrival of the Apple Watch (with HealthKit and Apple Pay) will probably make things clear.

5. Virtual Reality - Oculus Rift, Google’s Magic Leap, and Microsoft’s HoloLens are just few of many projects focusing on virtual and augmented reality. The future of business - retailers above all - is immersive. 3D personal environments will support purchase, engage customers and enhance the experience. 

6. Content Platforms - social media sharing teaches us that content curation is the key to success in an over-crowded Internet. The new trend is ‘visual’ - Youtube, Vine, Facebook; to capture attention, content will require an entirely new approach.

7. Mass Personalization - the customer journey has a bigger value and impact than price on the purchase decision. The future of retail is the mass-customization of the shopping experience, leading to the final frontier of Me-Commerce in an Omni-Channel approach.

8. Mobile Payments - in the near future, customers will use their mobile devices to pay and brands will increase loyalty actions, and benefits connected to their app and mobile experience. Technology will change the way we pay, the currency we use and the whole payment system (Bitcoins and Apple Pay will be first in line).

9. Privacy Issue - the birth of privacy-friendly social networks is just one more sign of the concern surrounding privacy and security in an era defined by proximity marketing and Big Data. As Brian Solis says “older generations think about privacy differently. Younger generations use privacy as a currency”.

10. Beacons - these small devices represent the front line of a revolution that will transform the idea of store. Retail industry is slowly understanding the importance of connecting online and in-store experiences. The aim is to revamp new means of customer engagement, offering personalized experience and context-aware content.

Technology drives innovation but, if you don't integrate disruptive devices into a customer-centric and omni-channel view, you won't be able to evolve at the same pace of your clients. To build a strategic advantage to your organization, download the free DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

Download DCX 7-Steps Checklist

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Innovation Social Networking Analytics Retail Content Marketing Inbound Marketing Payment Big Data Mobile Internet of Things

10 Reasons Why You Offer A Faulty Experience to Mobile Customers

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In a world of constant connectivity, customers expect that you are able to give them what they need when they need it, especially when they are on the go. The term ‘mobile’ perfectly describes how technology has changed the customer experience; going mobile becomes mandatory for every innovative business strategy. If your company is not optimized for the mobile experience, you’re putting at risk your sales and damaging the perception of the brand itself. And clients will ultimately abandon you.

As a consequence of the evolution known as mobile mind shift, if you want to connect with clients of the Age of the Customer, you need to think and act digital first. Of course, going mobile for mobile’s sake is not the right answer to clients’ needs; you must get mobile right. Without a proper strategy and internally shared intents, you won’t be able to maintain focus in markets in which clients not only research and buy products on mobile devices, but also ask for compelling digital customer experience

By 2017, around 69.4% of world's population is expected to use smartphones. By 2018, it is estimated that the wearables market will be worth some 12.6 billion dollars. People use mobile devices to listen to their favorite music, to watch videos, to search for information, to buy products and look for deals. Mobile is not just an option anymore.

Statistics say that mobile-friendly companies easily turn users into customers, and without a mobile awareness you’ll be driving users to your competitors. It’s a fact: frustrated users are highly likely to abandon you for competitors when they don’t get a satisfying experience across all touch points. 

You can’t ignore these numbers, even more so if you are a retailer. There are at least 10 reasons why mobile customers will abandon you in the end:

  1. You don’t have a mobile presence: this is level zero. You don't have an app, your website is not responsive or adaptive, you never update your social pages. An analog residual in a digital environment. 
  2. You site is not responsive: you have a website, yet it's all but mobile-friendly. It was made to work on a desktop computer, and it fails to deliver a fulfilling experience to users in mobility.
  3. You have a faulty app: they might be a necessary part of your digital strategy, but faulty - or not working at all - apps could only do harm to your brand perception. Find the right partner and develop a huge app experience.
  4. You don’t offer unique content: companies are now able to locate and target individuals who are significantly qualified, to create content marketing customized with context. If your strategy is not location-savvy, then you're missing a piece.
  5. You give a lousy User Experience: the user experience involves practical and emotional aspects of the interaction between the user and your digital product. A bad-designed UX will prevent you from building engagement.
  6. You don't optimize landing pages: if you're investing time and budget in inbound marketing tactics and online advertising, make sure you optimize your landing pages. They're the first place users land on, the first contact they have with your brand.
  7. You don't offer payment options: the conversion path will always be incomplete and inefficient if your payment process is slow, unclear and time-costly. Your customer journey must offer different solutions to pay in a seamless, easy and secure way.
  8. You don’t personalize offers: personalization is the key to success in the digital era. You can rely on big data to understand customers and markets: use those numbers to offer unique experiences and personal deals. 
  9. You don’t think omni-channel: you are not judged for what you sell, but for the whole journey you create to connect products and clients. An omni-channel experience is a reflection of how our life has evolved in the mobile era, a foundational element of digital customer engagement .
  10. You don't play with customers: from 2015 on, more and more companies will focus on gamification mechanics to enhance loyalty. Games are everywhere, and you need to learn the rules of gamification to engage customers playing with them.

As practical advice: if you want to connect with your customers 
in a whole new way discover Neosperience Engage, the end-to-end mobile marketing solution to turn on smartphones like magic and deliver personalized experiences to customers close to, or inside the store.

Discover Neosperience Engage

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Gamification Branded Games Social Networking Content Marketing Inbound Marketing Payment Big Data

3 Ways Mobile is Shaping the Future of Payments

mobile_payments

The payments scenario has evolved rapidly over the past decade. Currency of exchange, as old as human civilization, will probably face a faster change in the next five years. Just as paper money and the magnetic strip revolutionized markets, innovative - and fast-evolving - technologies will foster the rise of new ways to pay and even new currencies. In the era of mobile mind shift, of course, the main agent of change is digital technology: here are 3 ways mobile is shaping the future of payments.

Cash is dying but we won’t probably say goodbye to plastic credit cards anytime soon. While the card-processing system as a whole is not in danger, the proliferation of mobile devices will affect the way we make purchases. Apple Pay, launched few months ago together with the new iPhone 6, is at the forefront of this revolution. Destined to bring near-field communication (NFC) to the next level, this new technology will surely facilitate the move to payment using mobile technologies.

Add the Apple Watch to the equation, and you will see why analysts place Cupertino at the core of this rapid development. But Apple is not the only one to have a stake in this profitable business: together with giants like Google, eBay and Amazon, many small and medium startup companies are working behind the scenes to revolutionize payment concepts and structures.

It’s not by coincidence that the first industry to feel the wind of change is retail, already undergoing major shifts as a result of the disruptive impact of E-Commerce and the Internet-of-Things. Customers are moving away from the ‘payment status quo’, eager to embrace alternative ideas - just think of the virtual Bitcoin or Facebook’s peer-to-peer social transaction. People are adopting new ways to trade are retail banks are rebuilding customer experience. Eventually, also brands will need to realign their visions and reshape their commercial models for this new empowered customer.

As it is such a wide topic, instead of exhausting all elements of the discussion, we will highlight the 3 key areas involved in this evolution:

  • New ways to pay: smart commerce and mobile in-store payments (mobile point-of-sale) are two major effects of the transition to a seamless and omni-channel customer experience, but digital transformation will also concern other technologies like mobile wallets, wearables (smartwatches, wristbands, activity trackers) and pay-by-fingertips scanners.

  • New currencies: many are already using alternative currencies, replacing traditional money in the name of a community-oriented approach. The most famous example is the Bitcoin, the notorious and debated open source cryptocurrency. A further step in this path could be the social media currency (i.e. payments with a tweet), that will allow users to make purchases without leaving social networks.

  • New players: the currency revolution is opening the door for new players, that will enter the challenge demanding their piece of cake. Some are already well-known companies with new products - Amazon Local Register, Apple Pay, Breadcrumb by Groupon - some are hardened newcomers ready to act as middlemen between customers, banks and their money - Venmo, Snapcash, Square Cash, DigiMo.

In the Age of the Customer, an innovative customer journey should also take into account different solutions that make payment seamless, easy, secure and privacy-friendly. Mobile devices rewrite the boundaries of digital customer experience, and it doesn’t make so much sense that we mostly still rely on cash, debit and credit cards to pay for things.

To help you provide a strategic advantage to your organization, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download the free guide here:Get the DCX 7-Steps Checklist

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Analytics Retail Financial Services Payment Mobile

Why iPhone 6 and iOS 8 Will Change Your Digital Customer Experience

ios_8

Two weeks have passed since Apple has unveiled two new iPhones - the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus - and the Apple Watch (a.k.a. iWatch). One week later users could start to download iOS 8 and the picture finally became clear. The new version of the mobile operating system delivers new features that could change the way we think about digital experience. Customer-facing apps will never be the same with these new technologies. So will your strategy.

Sometimes size does matter: first thing that you notice when you look at the new iPhones is their size. Along with faster processors and better cameras, they come with larger screens and an iPad-like design, trying to push the market towards the 'phablet' era (something other have failed to do in the recent years). That means can also enjoy an iPad-style landscape mode that displays more content on the screen.

It may result in a huge chance for all companies investing in Gamification. In the Age of the Customer, we all love to play games, and that's something marketers can rely on when shaping their digital engagement plans. New camera features and timelapse videos and you will spread the game layer across our world, replacing traditional loyalty and engagement strategies with more effective tools. Easy, mobile and fun.

In addition, iOS 8 brings two important features that can help you improve your content marketing and engage with your clients in a more efficient way: 

  • Interactive Notifications: with iOS 8 notifications will be actionable, so that interruption and app switching are minimized. Users can now reply to a message right from the banner or accept an invitation from the lock screen, without interrupting what they are already doing.
  • Continuity: also a feature of OS X Yosemite, Continuity will help users achieve a flawless experience when switching from smartphone to tablet to laptop. Your customer experience could start as an app and continue as a website; your brand or product will really be omnipresent because all products are designed to work together. 

The new phone comes with a twin-product, the Apple Watch, a real game-changer for the wearable revolution. This new technology is already changing the way companies plan and execute their digital strategies to connect with customers, enstablish a strong brand identity and lead clients to their products.

We foresee three big opportunities:

  1. Apple Pay: the iWatch finally implements the long awaited NFC technology, destined to improve the experience of payment and purchase. Synchronized with Passbook and protected by a 'secure element', Apple Pay promises to bring one touch payment to reality.
  2. Self Tracking: technology improvements have brought to us devices that are able to monitor and record a huge amount of personal data, creating an irresistible need to self track. We measure everthing from distance walked to calorie consumption to heartbeat. Companies can use data to improve their actions and shape a gamification strategy.
  3. Health: one of the most anticipated new features of iOS 8, Health is a native app that can monitor phisical and medical data, created to interact and echange data with other devices (iWatch) and third-party apps developed with HealthKit, a new technology that allows them to access health and fitness information about the user. The idea is already changing the way doctors track patient's wellness: in the US few research hospitals have already launched HealthKit trials to track diabetics and patients with cancer and chronic disease.

New boundaries have been set. iPhone 6 and iOS 8 need to change your priorities in digital customer experience. The next future has so much in store for your company; you will be able to engage your clients in a whole new way. You just need to build a proper marketing machine to take advantage of this new exciting era.

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Gamification Innovation iOS Content Marketing Payment