How does digital impact strategy, marketing, and the customer experience?

I say digital fundamentally disrupts everything: value propositions, communications, the customer experience

“What do you think of digital?” That was the question that the interviewer at the Technology for Marketing & Advertising conference asked me. The bulk of my customer experience work for the last two years has centred on/around digital. So here is the answer I gave:

Digital is disruptive. It disrupts the value proposition, communications with and between customers, the customer experience, and the business model  I say every business has to get to grips with digital and the transformation it engenders in these four areas. Failing to do so is a one way ride to oblivion especially for retail businesses.

I went on to say:

The days of putting a warehouse with a glass front and minimum wage employees, who are generally clueless, on a high street, are fast running out.  Why?  Because if it can be bought digitally then it will be bought digitally. You cannot beat digital for research, for price comparisons, for ease, for convenience and even for instant access to the product/service – for some categories of goods and services. And if you get your logistics right then many customers can wait a day or two to get what they ordered online.

Which means that If your value proposition and the associated customer experience is not good enough to charge an entrance fee then you should close up shop. Why? Because you will simply end up being a showroom for a digital master like Amazon.

Michael Schrage says “Invest in your customers more than you brand”

It isn’t often that I come across a piece that speaks to me the way that Michael Schrage’s piece speaks to me.  I say that if you are in the game of business, the game of customer-centricity, or the game of customer experience then read and memorise that which he says.  For my part, I want to pull out his wisdom as it relates to the impact of digital on business strategy, marketing, sales, service and the customer experience.

Digital technologies push firms to recognize, rethink and reorganise how they should make their customers smarter and more confident…How are you using digital media to help your best customers and prospects to better educate themselves?  How are you making them smarter and more capable? Companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, IKEA and IBM have answers to that question. What’s yours?

The distinctions that make a difference will be value-added aducation and advice.  After decades of complaints about the poor quality of its instructions and documentation, for example, Ikea set up a YouTube channel…showing people how to easily put together its most complex furniture.

The advice/aducation marketing challenge comes from redefining advertising as an investment that makes your customers more valuable to you, not just an investment that makes your brand more valuable to your customers…

The digital and digitizing future belongs to the best aducators and advisors who make clients, customers, prospects measurably smarter and authentically more confident.  That a challenge a David Ogilvy, Jay Chiat and Rosser Reeves would appreciate.

Credibility comes from commitment to facilitate decision, not calculate persuasion. “We [Amazon] make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”

Bezos’ bet is that relevant recommendations and reviews – good advice – are better brand investments than digital sales pitchesClose the deal by being openly helpful and helpfully open, not by “selling better.” Amazon transformed customer behaviours and expectations by consistently favouring innovative “advice” over sales-oriented “advertising” and promotion.

Sales don’t drive the UX; they’re it’s happy byproducts. That digital design sensibility has yet to seep into marketing’s mainstream…..

And finally

If you are busy firmly planted in the call-centre working on improving the ‘customer experience’ then I say get that you are at best improving customer service. Not the customer experience. You are mired in operations and as such you may just be missing out on the bigger picture – the opportunity and the challenge.

If like me, you are fundamentally a strategist and you passion lies in value propositions and customer experience innovation,  I say get passionate about digital. Learn digital. Use digital. Why?  Because digital enables transformations in the value proposition, communications with and between customers, the customer experience, and the business model.

Posted on February 28, 2013, in Case Studies, Customer Experience, Customer Philosophy, Customer Service, Customer Strategy, Digital / Ecommerce, Marketing, Sales, Social and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Maz,

    I agree whole heartedly that organisations have to go digital and use it for all they are worth.

    I do however think there will always be a place for the high street, if nothing else people like to “go to town”.

    So the question in my mind is how will the high street book store compete successfully against Amazon? The only way I can see is by hiring friendly knowledgeable staff.

    But even then they will have to agree a way to sell them books for their Kindle

    James

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    • Hello James
      Yes, there is place for the high street. And that place is likely to be social place where buying stuff is a subcomponent of a bigger social experience.

      What kind of experience? Where you can meet up with friends and have a coffee. Where you can watch people including street entertainers. Where you can buy stuff together. Where you can go and get a meal or watch a movie….

      It has to be the kind of place that calls people as it meets their needs for socialising, learning, fun as well as buying stuff.

      maz

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  2. Hi Maz,
    I like Michael Schrage’s statement “Invest in your customers more than you brand” and think it is going in the right direction.

    I then see the additional statement: “The digital and digitizing future belongs to the best aducators and advisors who make clients, customers, prospects measurably smarter and authentically more confident.”

    I agree with that too.

    However, I think the missing piece (and this may be stating the obvious) is that we should be investing in our employees and team members to make them our ‘best educators and advisors’ to close the loop and complete the experience.

    Too many businesses outsource much of the education and content creation and then scratch their heads when their customer experience doesn’t stack up. I would suggest it is because they haven’t invested in their people and made their people their ‘best aducators and advisors’.

    Adrian

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    • Hello Adrian

      I find myself to be in total agreement with you. And what is remarkable is the degree of resistance to the people being the source of aducation and advice.

      The resistance does not just come from managers. It can be equally strong from the employees themselves. I came across a great example of this recently. And it makes sense. Why? Because it really takes something to become a source of worthwhile advice.

      maz

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