You are on a hero’s journey. You have a passionate desire to learn how to harness disruption and innovate in completely new ways. Most importantly, you want to transform your company into a customer focused machine. You are being introduced to new connected customers. You are seeing how they progress through a dynamic journey. You are discovering how they respond and behave at each moment of truth about your mission. Generation C’ers are different than their traditional counterparts. You can’t reach them through direct mail. Their phone numbers (remember land lines) aren’t published. They may or may not subscribe to your eNewsletter. You can only reach them if they choose to be reached. They are in control of who they do (or don’t) connect with.
We are learning that our customers are far more informed than we ever imagined. They are very, very sophisticated in their decision making. They are extremely savvy in their digital prowess. They have a capacity to multitask across multiple platforms and devices during the day and pick up right where they left off at night. We have to adapt to this new world.
We all want to improve the experience for our customers. We know that experience right now it can be very disjointed. We yearn for our leadership to be innovative and visionary. We want it to be meaningful and not fanciful.
We have this sense that innovation starts with something perhaps simpler than transformation. We must go back to the basics of our mission and vision and align them with desirable outcomes and significant experiences. We may need to invest in programs and services that our customers may not even know they need yet.
Here is a summary of some of the things we know:
- The new reality is the connected customer that is opening up new touch points for our mission.
- How connected customers are influenced and influence isn’t anything like our traditional customers are.
- Customers expect something different. They are aligning with our missions for different reasons than we think. Think quality of experience. Think about how we treat our employees and customers. Consider how sustainable the footprint you are leaving is visible. Obsess over engagement. This is what is important to our new customers.
- The channels customers use may never cross other channels. They can be fully contained from beginning to end on one device in one network. My children will sit in front of a very nice iMac searching for content on their smartphone.
- On the other hand, sometimes customers will hop channels. They may look something up on the web and call you. What they expect is a seamless experience. It must be integrated. We have to bring these customers with common goals together and intentionally design a seamless experience.
- Connected customers value highly being valued. How can we find a new way express value and measure it?
- What does it take to connect with connected customers?
- An understanding of how they behave and what they prefer.
- Some ability to read between the lines and innovate programs and services.
- Define the customer experience and what it will look like across every channel and journey.
- A blueprint on how to change the philosophy, culture and technology to lead (champion) a new era of customer experiences and engagement.
Simply saying we need to change probably isn’t the most helpful statement. We know that. Change takes, at a minimum, at least two things. First, you really have to want to. Desire and aspiration are essential. Second, it takes determination, stamina, fortitude and sheer will. It all however starts with a vision.
Most companies are exploring new media, different technology, and alternative channels for better customer engagement. To start with vision may sound trivial. Without vision, I would advocate, there probably won’t be any significant transformation. Transformation follows vision. Your next step may be to be the one to press pause. We can easily fall into the trap of chaotically rushing to the next big thing with understanding “Why are we doing this?” Be the leader to stop and ask why?