By Deepak Bhosale
Chief Manager of information Technology, Asian Paints Group
The world is getting increasingly consumer-centric.
The rules of consumer engagement have changed. Brands which are unilateral in terms of their products and services offerings are going to perish, as it’s the new age customer is seeking value in all interactions and at all touch points in the life cycle.
It’s an era wherein customers are seeking gratifying experiences, which appeal to the mind, body and soul. While the body physically perceives the experiences, the mind tries to bring in sense of reason and the soul is what retains the memories of the experiences.
The last couple of decades have witnessed physical experiences getting largely delivered through the brick & mortar mode like physical stores, outdoors advertisements, etc. The same have been mostly complemented by human experiences through relationship managers, sales teams, contact centers, etc. Technology has been used to support the experiences though in a small way. However the last five years has seen digital really help craft engaging customer experiences. With the advent of mobility, social, cloud, IOT and analytics, the coming decade is going to see a surge in digital experiences, which are bound to influence the soul of the customer.
Going ahead I do see a lot of digital being used in influencing the customer in the journey from anonymity to Loyalty. While physical and human experiences could still continue, their influence would not be as impactful as it used to be. I see an interplay of all the three form of experiences resulting in a delivering WOW moments for customers.
We have already seen the number of visits to the banks has reduced. We have seen the load on the contact centers getting reduced on account of self-service technologies. Clearly the new millennial customer is setting the trend for things to come. This customer wants to be control and decide what value he wants to extract from the product or services. You cannot serve her; she will pick what she likes. We are entering into a world of mass personalization. Each customer needs to be seen a different persona and hence marketers need to be relevant.
Digital is playing a big role in delivering these customized, personal and consistent experiences. Website has started to become more intelligent and is getting reconstructed on real time basis to make the customer feel unique. E-commerce engines are following your likes and dislikes thereby making it easy for you to make your decisions. Digital is trying to stitch the experiences across multiple channels. You may have visited a shopping store and may be spent more time in a particular section of perfumes.
You may then talk about in your social platform. Don’t be surprised if you may get prompted for a discount on your mobile for doing a spot purchase. There are heavy analytical engines, which are capturing your likes/dislikes, channel preferences, frequency of purchases, demographics, etc. to ensure you have the right products and services to choose from.
Conversations have over the years moved from being unidirectional, wherein a brand dictates the terms, to bi directional wherein customers converse among themselves before interacting with the brand to being three dimensional wherein even the products have got into the equation.
With Internet of Things (IOT) fast maturing as a productive technology, products have now got a voice too. A reputed shoe company has already built in sensors, which voices the condition of the shoe in terms of locations, number of steps, wear and tear, etc. This is now getting updated on the cloud and brand can now track the performance of their products. Imagine the possibilities here – the sensor is able to gage the pressure exerted by that individual, the type of surfaces traversed, the frequency of usage, etc. all of which is useful in personalizing the next shoe to the customer.
The face of commerce is changing and digital is making it happen!