The tides are changing: Customer driven experience in marketing

by Rian Newman

Like it or not, customers are the most valuable part of your brand’s creative evolution, not just the last stop on your product lifecycle, writes PR executive and much-experienced customer, Rian Newman.

Am I the only one freaked out by where customer experience is headed? For so long I feel like I’ve been the one calling the shots – I never visit the mall without a pair of headphones, and have even faked being foreign to spare myself the pitter-patter of shop assistants.

Recently though, my upper hand has been taken away from me. There’s an all-seeing, all-knowing data deity following my every move and my defences are crumbling. It knows when and where to target me, what’s going to pique my interest, and I can’t help but feel it’s only a matter of time before my secret addiction to heart-warming Britain’s Got Talent auditions comes back to haunt me on the shop floor.

But if I take off my customer’s beanie and slip on my marketer’s fedora, I soon realise these emerging trends in customer experience are valuable assets for growing your brand.

Customer-driven change

Something that we’re likely to be seeing more of in the coming years is crowdsourced design and open innovation – the idea that your customers become a part of your brand’s creative evolution and are not just the last stop on your product lifecycle.

Daniel Newman, CEO of Broadsuite Media group says that, “In order to create a customer-centric organisation, leaders must listen and learn from the people they serve first — and then, with that newfound knowledge, create internal processes to address customer needs.”

Social media provides an ideal platform, not only for creating a dialogue, but for listening to the conversations happening around your organisation. It’s often the first port-of-call for your customers and will be the first place they go to share their thoughts and ideas — good or bad.

It’s also proving to be an invaluable tool for building trust and forging authentic relationships, just as we’ve seen with organisations like the NSW Police Force. Their social media presence, which intersperses humorous posts with public service announcements, has spurred a groundswell of goodwill from the public who are engaging with the “brand” more than ever.

Intelligent listening   

Nearly 8 out of 10 businesses have already implemented or are planning to adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a customer service solution by 2020, according to a study by Oracle.

Messaging is now the number one communication method for people to talk to each other, and if brands are unable to replicate that, they’ll likely miss the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with customer. The result? More chatbots integrated into customer experience for a personalised experience.

For brands looking to embrace this trend, the ideal chatbot will be will be able to have a conversation that is as natural as possible and indistinguishable from a real world one.

But how real is too real? Boost Juice has recently come under fire for a millennial targeted campaign that used chatbots programmed to simulate people using an online-dating application. Some have accused the bot of crossing the line from harmlessly flirty to exhibiting “predatory” behaviour.

Despite this shaky publicity, Boost Juice’s online community has embraced the campaign. And if anything, it’s probably persuaded a few more to go and check it out.

And while I still have my fair share of trepidation about the direction customer experience is headed, I remain equally intrigued. I am starting to question whether my perceived loss of control really is a loss of control, or whether this personalisation thing is what I’ve been missing all along.

I’ll report back after I’m done Tinder-ing with the Boost Juice banana!

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