Over the last 10 years, businesses have changed dramatically. Gone are the days when companies decided who they communicated to, when they communicated and where they communicated.

Customers now want to do things in whatever way is easiest for them, and with this type of expectation growing, businesses are no longer calling the shots when it comes to customer wants and needs.

Startup to global phenomenon

This change in tide has come to the forefront due to the recent wave of tech-savvy startups that have turned into successful global businesses overnight. Think Uber, Snapchat, Facebook and Deliveroo. With the success of these new organisations comes a new way of doing things, placing technology firmly at the heart of their core business strategy, underpinning everything they do.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that consumers have become more tech savvy as well. With the rise of social media platforms and the ‘always connected, always on’ philosophy, consumers want to choose the playing field.

The good news for the newer companies emerging on the scene is that they are proving to be a lot more nimble when it comes to change. They have the ability to make dramatic alterations to the way they operate with little notice, and without the usual bureaucracy that you would find in older, longer standing businesses. Because of this, they can improve and transform at a dramatic rate, providing consumers with the experience they require, and demand, in a relatively short space of time.

For some longer standing organisations, the ability to quickly overhaul the way they do things has proven to be a challenge. With older, more complicated legacy technology systems in place, some organisations are finding it harder to provide improved customer experience as quickly or as perfectly as their more agile competitors. A recent Gartner study predicted that by 2017, 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator.

We know from listening to our customers at Philips that one of the key drivers of customer experience is speed. Because of this, we made Philips consumer care accessible through mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat to try and make it as easy as possible for customers to reach out whenever and wherever they like.

Every business is a tech business

To cope with this changing customer demand, big businesses with legacy systems in place need to be on the forefront of technology change to keep up. To put this in to play, here at Philips we pushed for a strong emphasis on leveraging the use of mobile technology to empower our customers and pass control over to them.

Whether it’s providing young parents with insights into their baby’s development via the uGrow app, or enabling kids and parents to track their dental routine, it all comes down to providing the customer with the technological resource to find the information they need in the format and medium they want to use.

ugrow app

The Philips uGrow app

What this means for customers

For customers, the new connected world has given them the power to take charge. They’re now able to decide where they communicate with businesses and in turn are expecting a more personalised experience than ever before.

A prime example of this is that if they purchase an item online from your store – they then don’t expect to be targeted by advertisements the next day for the same item. Businesses need to be able to understand their customers as well as they understand themselves, with the ability to react to changes in customer demands and sentiment. This will be paramount in ensuring they get to where they need to be.

Whilst re-evaluating your business processes can be a tiresome task, those businesses that see customer experience as a bonus rather than a necessity will soon find they were on the wrong side of the fence.            

It’s clear that this new landscape filled with digital natives presents many challenges, but it also presents a vast amount of opportunity. Customer-savvy businesses with their fingers on the pulse of exactly what their customers want, often before they have even asked, will be clear winners in the game of customer retention. Big brands in particular should look to their newer, more nimble counterparts for inspiration; to play it safe, quite simply, doesn’t cut it anymore.  

Blake Cahill

Published 11 July, 2017 by Blake Cahill

Blake Cahill is Global Head of Digital at Philips and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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