For companies to stay relevant and attractive to customers in the future, they need to understand the fundamental changes happening in customer behavior today. During our webinar with Fonecta and Oslo Business Forum, thought leader on customer experience Steven Van Belleghem presented four of the most important changes happening in customer behavior and demonstrated how companies could prepare themselves for customers the day after tomorrow.
You can watch the full recording of the webinar until the 17th of December:
How is customer behavior changing?
Opinions are becoming more extreme
In the old world, the largest groups of people were nuanced in their opinion. In the new world where disinformation has spread like wildfire, and social media allows people to hide behind anonymity, consumer opinions are becoming more and more polarized.
Growing concerns about changes in society
Organizations need to think about their influence. As we are living through the biggest geopolitical crisis of our generation, not to mention the healthcare crisis, and climate crisis, it is more important than ever for companies to take a stand. Steven argues that in the future, if your brand is not a part of the solution, you will be seen as a part of the problem. Many companies have already taken note, as we have seen with several big companies taking their business away from Russia after the war in Ukraine started.
“The economy has become a weapon.”
Openness to new technologies
The pandemic accelerated the adoption of new technologies, and we are now entering the new phase of the internet, says Steven. There has been hype in the last 2 years around digital collectibles, also known as Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs.
People who don’t follow the NFT world might see buying an expensive digital art piece of a monkey as ridiculous. Are NFTs just a status symbol or is there more going on beneath the surface? Steven explains that the real value of the NFT is not in the token itself, but in the smart contract behind it. When you buy an NFT, you also buy the right to work with it, so many people who own a Bored Ape have made merchandise with it or found other ways to monetize their investment.
But why should companies care about NFTs? Steven brings out an example from the music industry. In the old world, 90% of the money went to the record company, whereas the artist only received about 10%. What if in the new world, the artist could launch their music as an NFT, keeping 90% of the revenue, and the remaining 10% would go to the early fans who invested? This would completely change the music industry as we know it. This type of direct ownership would turn fans and customers into ambassadors—not only do they want to consume the product, they now have a shared interest in the success of the artist or the company.
“NFTs are closer to share holdership than to loyalty cards, in my opinion.”
Another technological adaptation that is creating new opportunities for companies is augmented reality. Companies that use AR, such as virtual try-on for shoes or glasses, have seen a sizeable drop in return rates. There are so many opportunities in this space. Virtual concerts could create new customer experiences while creating additional revenue streams. The online gaming platform Fortnite has successfully hosted a virtual event of 15 million people.
Disney is one of the companies that have big plans for using AR. “Today if you go to Disney you get a magic band around your arm. What if in 10 years you get magic glasses that create this amazing, enhanced world out there?” This would certainly make standing in line a lot less painful.
Loss of interest in a traditional job
It’s more difficult than ever to find the best employees and, more importantly, to keep them. It’s not just the great resignation or quiet quitting that is concerning to companies, but people not applying for jobs in the first place. Young people have more career options than ever, and many of them are not keen on following the traditional path or working for large corporations.
Investing in the new era of technology
We’ve reached the end of a cycle and are now moving on to a new era of technology. What should companies take into account when preparing themselves? Steven suggests three important investment opportunities for companies to prepare for the future, but warns against using technology for the sake of using technology—companies need to be smart and make sure the new technologies are really providing value.
“The guiding star is not the technology, the guiding star are our customers. Of course, technology can help, and the day after tomorrow technology will be crucial. Not for the sake of technology, but for creating customer benefits.”
Today it is fairly easy for companies to gain access to data about their customers, but what if this changes? When given the chance to opt out of data tracking, most people are choosing to do so. What if in the future customers will own their data, keep it in a digital wallet, and you cannot access it without permission? The implications for businesses would be huge and companies would need to adjust quickly. The best way to prepare for the shift in data ownership is by making sure you are providing customers enough value for them to be willing to give you access to their data.
Effortless customer interfaces
As TikTok is gaining popularity, Steven says we need to “Tik-Tok-ise” the interfaces of other user interfaces as well. We have the Google generation, who are used to getting an endless list of options when searching for a movie to watch or a house to buy. But then we have the TikTok generation, who is used to highly customized content. Whereas on Netflix it takes an average of 40 minutes to find a new show to watch, TikTok learns your personal preferences in less than 15 minutes. Companies need to start thinking about how they can “Tik-Tok-ise” their user interfaces to make for a more personalized, faster, and effortless customer experience.
Utilizing AI to make customer service quicker, more personalized, and more efficient, is the future. KLM has already tried an algorithm by DigitalGenius that drafts customer service answers based on the data from previous conversations, which are then personalized and fixed by real humans. Augmented intelligence is providing companies the opportunity to make their customer experience faster, more efficient, and more effortless for both the customer and the employee.
“Convenience is the new loyalty.”
Steven’s key message is for companies to start focusing on preparing for the day after tomorrow, today. Start thinking about how the changing customer behavior will affect your industry, and think about how your company can utilize the new technologies to enhance customer experiences.
Visual Summary by Linda Saukko-Rauta