Human Connection is Another Luxury
B.C.’s low unemployment rates, expected to continue into 2020, means less staff — or less qualified staff — for many businesses. That means less personalized attention. This trend, coupled with the rise of AI-powered interfaces and computerized checkouts, means talking with an actual human can seem like a luxury. That’s why the new luxury is analog — where human interaction, service and experience are as much a part of the purchase as the product itself. Insights, a market-research association, notes four ways to engage with customers:
- Know how they want to shop. Engage in customer experience and path-to-purchase research to understand their attitudes and behaviours so you can deliver the best product mix and add value to their shopping experience.
- Create pop-up stores to pull in specific consumer segments; use technology to enact real-time promotions or enhance the shopping experience; and provide loyalty discounts and unique or personalized deals online retailers can’t match.
- Help your sales team provide a positive customer-centred experience by training them to engage and giving them the knowledge they need to add value. And make sure your customers have a smooth, seamless experience at every touchpoint.
- Online shopping doesn’t satisfy customers who love the tactile nature of shopping. Nor does it work for those who find shopping to be a pleasurable and tangible change of pace from their computers, connected lifestyles and the demands of life. Offer interactions with products and services so consumers can engage their senses while they shop.
Expectations are Up, Waaay Up
“You are no longer competing with those in your own industry,” according to Nalina Athyantha of Salesforce. “The moment a new positive experience is received, customer expectations reach new heights. If a customer can instant-message with a service agent on their favourite food delivery app, they want the same experience from their bank and car dealer.”
Blame Amazon Prime, especially the company’s shift to free one-day shipping. Consumers are now less patient than ever. A PwC study shows 88 per cent of them are even willing to pay for same-day shipping. Part of this comes from the streaming culture.
The need for speed has also translated to eating. SkipTheDishes has made a big dent in the local market. Uber Eats is also here. And TUTTI, which says it “delivers everything”, is now in Victoria. How do local restaurants compete? It’s all in the experience, which can’t be duplicated at home without a lot of effort.
It’s All How You Experience It
A report by Walker Information called Customers 2020: A Progress Report found that by the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. The motorcycle company Harley-Davidson is a good example. With their motto “All for Freedom and Freedom for All,” Harley-Davidson holds “brand fests” where customers get together, have memorable experiences, forging deeper alliances with the brand.
Change is The New Normal
How often do you see the clichéd advertising slug “The Future is Here”? Well, yes it is, obviously, but many people find themselves unsettled by the pace of change. How can we deal with it? The answer is: Get rid of micromanagement and instead focus on agile and flexible management structures.
Think of your organizational structure as a web (spiders know a thing or two about building with strength) rather than a tower that can be easily toppled. Then build resiliency and train for it. Start by anchoring yourself and your business to the values that make you strong, then put those values, like empathy, integrity in leadership, self-management and self-awareness into action. Focus on making your mission crystal clear and encourage accountability, flexible thinking and problem-solving, mutual trust and psychological safety.
The pace of change is intimidating, but it’s also exciting. The most vital thing is to keep your mind open to change, while anchoring yourself to a solid foundation, so you don’t get swept away by it.
This article is from the December/January 2020 issue of Douglas.