Seven Trends for a Winning Customer Experience by sapientnitro


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Seven Trends for a Winning
Customer Experience
By Andrew Macey, Vice President, Strategy, SapientNitro

A couple decades ago, the brand experience was much different than it is today — and much more
simple. The consumer experience was historically controlled and managed primarily by the brand,
and the consumer played a somewhat passive role. Moreover, the stages of awareness, perception,
involvement, and loyalty were orchestrated by the brand to proceed in a linear fashion.

Since then, however, the world is a very different place, and today’s consumer bears few similarities
to the consumer of the past. Smart phones, ubiquitous internet access, and social networks are
pervasive. And yet, while current technology has made connecting and interacting with a brand even
easier, it has also stirred up some challenges.

So where will this shift take us next? There are several relevant trends to be aware of — and to consider
— as one thinks about merchandising and marketing in today’s digital environment, and before
planning the next campaign.

1. The pace of adoption and consumer acceptance has increased significantly.
Adoption of new ideas and technologies is moving faster than typically has been true historically.
Consider that Internet and cell phones have seen a 70% consumer adoption in just 15 years.

In contrast, cars, phones, electricity, stoves, dishwashers and similar technologies of the past each
took more than 60 years to reach the same 70% acceptance. Today’s inventions are latching on and
taking off with unprecedented speed — a speed which makes it all the more interesting a question as to
whether one should be a first-mover or a fast-follower.

2. eCommerce and mCommerce markets are large, and continue to grow more quickly than
traditional channels.
In 2009, eCommerce sales worldwide were $8 trillion in revenue. But by 2013, that number is expected

                      © Sapient Corporation, 2011
          POINT OF view

to have doubled in size. The mCommerce (mobile) market in 2010 was $42 billion and is expected to be
$68 billion by the end of 2013.

Whereas offline commerce only shows a 1.8% projected CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate),
digital, in comparison, is expected to have 15% CAGR over the next five years.

Web-influenced sales will grow at an estimated 21% CAGR, and already influence approximately two-
thirds of all commerce in some way.

3. Cross-channel customers spend more.
Cross-channel customers spend about 50% more spend on average, making them more valuable than
those who spend in only a single channel. While most retail revenue still comes from stores by far, it’s
important to understand how greatly online affects traditional channels. A Sapient Consumer Survey,
conducted in December 2010 revealed some interesting data about cross-channel customers:

•	        53%	purchased	in-store	after	conducting	online	research
•	        44%	bought	online	after	looking	in-store
•	        40%	compared	prices	before	making	a	purchase
•	        35%	looked	for	discounts,	deals,	coupons,	or	discount	codes
•	        33%	emailed	or	texted	someone	to	tell	them	about	a	store	experience
•	        30%	used	their	smart	phone	while	shopping	to	try	to	find	a	better	deal	
•	        27%	bought	an	additional	item	when	picking	up	an	online	order	at	a	store
•	        22%	bought	an	additional	item	when	returning	an	online	purchase	to	a	store

It is in every brand’s best interest to find ways to cater to these highly profitable, cross-channel
consumers and to make the movement between channels easy and seamless.

4. Social media creates mass personalization.
By adding a few lines of code with tools like Facebook Open Graph, sites can provide incredible
contextual relevance and give users “Pandora-like” experiences easily. Brands can now tailor
experiences to social-affinity based behaviors, and deliver experiences that are highly personalized.

While consistency throughout a brand’s messaging and content are still paramount, it no longer means
that each customer needs to experience it in the same way in a static format. Shopping histories and
real-time data means that each interaction with the brand can now be personalized to the user, and the
consumer decides what, when, and how to experience the brand — it could be via online, via mobile, or
in-store. The consumer gets to decide how to interact.

5. The path to purchase is now non-linear.
For many years, the path to purchase revolved around a linear progression of events, as consumers
moved from awareness to store interactions, to purchase, support, and loyalty. Today, however,
consumers can research online and buy in store, or walk in-store and compare reviews and offers via
mobile, or buy online and pick up in-store.

With today’s pervasive access, constant mobility, and high-speed bandwidth for rich media, there are
nearly infinite options to reach the same end goals. Consumers demand a digital experience that
reflects needs throughout the customer lifecycle, across channels, that builds loyalty over time

                        © Sapient Corporation, 2011
          POINT OF view

6. Consumer can participate with brands in a way not previously possible — and
disproportionately influence brand perception.
Consumers have always had the opportunity to be proponents of a brand, but postings, online
feedback, blogs, ratings and more make the ability to influence brand perception more visible.
Individuals can write and comment 24/7. There is significant evidence that negative reviews and
postings carry a lot of weight relative to positive postings, and that readers often value individual
postings more than information from brands and third-party organizations. Because of this shift,
manufacturers and retailers must deliver content and promotions that customers will find relevant and
trustworthy. The best customers should be engaged and rewarded, and brands must build a network of

7. Marketing needs have changed.
Historically, 1:1 marketing was the goal, i.e.: the ability to push relevant offers, information, and
promotions to an individual based on a deep understanding of who that individual was and on what
s/he had previously purchased. The customer would be targeted based on pre-defined criteria
and preferences. Those personal experiences were based on past behavior patterns and historical
purchase patterns.

But that’s not good enough anymore. Now, the aspiration is real-time, experience-based marketing.
Loyalty card data combined with techniques like location-based services via GPS make it possible to
offer consumers different promotions on a real-time, location-sensitive basis as they walk down a store
aisle. Customers respond to different messages based on how they interact with a brand at a given
point in time, and new CRM and campaign tools are needed to support those varying experiences.

Let’s look at two examples of brands that are taking advantage of these trends and creating seamless
experiences across multiple channels.

MetLife Central | Interactive Stadium Experience
MetLife wanted to reposition its brand, and to reach new audiences, at the new Meadowlands stadium,
home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. To do this, they sponsored online and in-venue digital
engagements centered on a custom membership club, which was supported by social media and local
area marketing.

MetLife’s goal was to do something interactive that got people talking and engaging with the brand in
a fun and interactive way. The new concept was a program that used both digital signage and a loyalty
card application. When a customer applied for a loyalty card, not only did MetLife develop a lead, but
that particular person was also entered into a weekly contest. The adoption exceeded expectations and
created a seamless, cross-channel MetLife experience that built awareness with a consistent message
and feel for the fans in an engaging way, whether on the television screen, a digital sign, a smart phone,
or a computer.

MetLife successfully created an integrated experience for the consumer that brought together two
things: the fusion of social, mobile, and digital elements, as well as the foresight to make it easy to
move across channels.

                       © Sapient Corporation, 2011
          POINT OF view

AutoTrader UK | The Snap-It iPhone Application
AutoTrader created a cross-channel plan between commercial transactions and mobile phone use,
enabling a relationship between the consumer and the seller than hadn’t been possible in the past.

The Snap-It iPhone mobile app gave consumers in the UK the ability to shop for a vehicle any time, any
place. Instead of limiting the shopper to traditional means of vehicle purchase, potential consumers
looking to purchase a vehicle can now take a picture of a license plate on any car they see and like.
The new mobile application then does a reverse lookup of the license plate, and cross-references that
particular car with similar cars available on AutoTrader in a given geographic area.

Looking to the future
Today’s consumer has changed. And so has today’s marketer. As these trends unfold, it’ll be interesting
to watch the progression and implications of these changes in this non-linear, cross-channel, fast-
moving world. Are you prepared for it?

                         Andrew Macey is Vice President, Digital Strategy at SapientNitro (www.
               , where he is primarily focused on helping companies
                         think through the challenges and benefits of future business models,
                         organizational capabilities, and new ways to create meaningful and
                         rewarding experiences across channels for business and consumer


                      © Sapient Corporation, 2011

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