To innovate collectively, we should be listening instead of hearing
By Pilar Roch. COO ideas4all Innovation
The fact that the consumer has moved center stage is quite logical: the technological and economic changes of the last decade have directly impacted consumers’ purchase habits and brands have been forced to learn a new kind of consumer behavior.
Let us remember that conversions (sales) are the end goal of any marketing strategy, and the digital transformation has shifted a map that had remained unaltered in decades; namely the map to the consumer.
Technology has facilitated access and delivery times for products and services, but has also multiplied and expanded competition on a global level.
Disruptive technology has blurred the limits in sectors that used to be noticeably segmented. Today we see mobile operators who sell energy, supermarkets that provide the same service as an ATM machine or transport services offered by companies outside of the sector.
If we extrapolate these examples, we might conclude that if a company has a loyal audience, it can sell whatever it wants to sell. And for that to be possible, managing the user experience seems to be a critical tool that guarantees short, medium and long-term business success.
A new user profile, accustomed to digital channels, is demanding closer attention and a more continuous relationship. One of the main consequences is that the customer journey for a product or service has grown beyond the moment of purchase–traditionally linked to a physical store–or an after-sales service like those we know from the past.
The customer journey now involves all phases of the consumer’s experience with the brand and its product. It includes how we come to know brands and their features, one of which is the ability to listen to clients; or how we give feedback about a product or service when it is given a revamp, to mention just two examples.
Image: example of a customer journey map affected by the digital transformation (source)
Customer listening, UX or customer centricity are some terms that are here to stay, directed at creating loyalty among clients by means of a memorable user experience, the golden dream of brands being that customers remain within a limited circle of loyalty without considering other options, since what they receive from their brand is extraordinary and unique.
Apple is one of the best-known examples of how to develop that user experience and keep users within that limited circle of loyalty. So, once you buy one of their products, do you think about changing your Operating System and provider, or do you think about the product’s new update? Amazon, with its wide range of products for a unique audience, is another example.
In a nutshell, simplifying processes, creating a rich experience, listening and paying individual attention to what our clients want to tell us, are some of the keys that will help dispel consumers’ doubts and invite them inside theloyalty loop.
Hear or listen? It may seem the same, but it is not
Technology has given the user tools to listen and make him or herself heard. One relevant collective for the market are millennials, who carry participating and contributing in their DNA because they were born in the digital era.
Brands are aware of this–the slogan of a well-known digital food delivery service is “the power to choose”–and have created new channels to listen to their petitions.
However, sometimes “hearing” (receiving consumer demands) is confused with “listening” (taking note of those demands to refine and improve), which ultimately results in an offer of genuine value.
Co-creation with clients in open innovation environments allows for a continuous connection between brands and their clients that transcends the simple digital communication channel.
Thanks to this resource, communicating means making consumers participate and become involved in building the brand.
To do this we can offer them tools like ideas crowdsourcing, where they can express concerns freely through a digital channel in a way that is simple, transparent, democratic and creates involvement and a feeling of belonging to a community.
Crowdsourcing in open innovation environments has a clear impact on the customer journey.
As we already stated, its singularity among other digital initiatives that are also directed at improving user experience, such as virtual voice assistants (Siri, Google Now) or chatbots, lies in that not only does the customer go from being a passive to an active user, he or she also becomes a creative user.
There are several benefits for brands, but first and foremost they consolidate a reputation for themselves based on innovation, creativity and listening.
Also, co-creation allows brands to hear what their clients want first-hand, and customer ideas and talent can materialize in new products. This can help prevent failed product launches and reduce uncertainties in product testing.
Finally, extending creativity to our clients can provide many out of the box ideas, disruptive ideas, that may broaden our presence in one market or directly give us access to new markets.
We mustn’t be afraid to enter new business, use third-parties–partners, technology suppliers…–to discover and establish new one-on-one relationships with our clients based on communication, trust and quality. In the end, we mustn’t be afraid to innovate.
Technology allows us to set our sights high in a time full of uncertainty, where talent at the service of collaboration is the new commons.