I had the privilege of attending a Marketo marketing conference the other month month, where Richard Dunn (CSO of Wunderman), shared some insights about customer loyalty in the engagement economy. One thing that he said in particular stood out, catapulting a number of thoughts and questions.
“‘Best’ is now a standard set across industries, it crosses beyond your immediate competition.”
Whereas at one time your competition were those directly in your field, (retailers against retailers, services measured against services) now consumers are comparing their experience with a fashion brand against that of Amazon, and their online banking app against Uber.
And, once I stopped to think about it, that’s exactly what I do. And that is precisely why I get so frustrated with certain brands and companies. I’ve had a great experience with X, so why can’t Y get with the program?
This changes things.
No longer can you do a simple competitive analysis to inform your positioning and offering, because ‘best’ crosses those boundaries of industry, trade and service. Expectations have gone up, across the board, because a few have raised the bar.
Technology plays a direct role in this, as our phones have transformed how we perceive and relate to brands. The world is (quite literally) at our fingertips, enabling an instant gratification addiction and micro moments attention span. We no longer have time for brands that don’t cater to our impulses and facilitate seamless (user) experiences, regardless of past loyalties.
This means that we have to redefine our vision in how we develop, design, and communicate; we need to take a step back and take a hard look at the modern day consumer (irrespective of whether they are traditionally ‘your’ consumer) and ask what defines value for them. How has intuitive designing and new technology development changed their expectations of how they will interact with your brand? From simple things like remembering logins and purchase history, to one page checkouts that have no extra (think: distracting and confusing) bows and frills, these are now the standard, and what was once the ceiling has become the floor. It is taking this and combining it with a brand’s unique attributes which is what sets the best brands a notch above the rest. (While you may not always notice the brands that do it, you definitely notice the ones that don’t!)
We need to take a fresh look at the entire journey, not just based on previous users or what that brand has achieved in the past, but expand our horizon to actually ask what defines an excellent user experience today and looking forward, in everyday life across all industries, and whether this brand measures up. It can be difficult, because sometimes that means starting from ground zero in certain areas, and you need to balance this with holding onto the brand’s identity and essence. Homogeneity is not excellence, and I am in no way advocating becoming like everyone else in your quest to improve. But we are moving into a new era of consumption, and failing to both react and be proactive in how you evolve means that you will continue to just move along at the back of the pack, or fall away all together.
Users have a new expectation of technology and how to relate to brands, and while it isn’t always logical (I mean, why do we expect machines to act like better humans, really?) the reality is that we are the product of the impact we have had on our environment, and we need to get with the program.
Failure to thrive is a thing, and innovation is only such until everyone else is doing it.
So, what are you going to do about it?