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How to Deliver Memorable Customer Experiences in a World Without Walls

If you happen to check-in on my blog posts regularly or read my books, you probably know I’m a fan of customer experience research conducted by PwC. For example, in my recent book The Airbnb Way – 5 Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth through Loyalty, Community, and Belonging , PwC kindly gave me permission to use their global research on consumer expectations for human care and technology deployment.In this post, I’ll share some of PwC’s findings from their 2020 Retail Marketplace study, which has broad implications beyond the retail sector. In that research, PwC identifies a number of key drivers affecting customer expectations today:

  • Products and services need to be delivered in a world without walls
  • Technology should produce efficiency
  • Communication has to be personalized and contextualized
  • Transparency must be present in all actions performed
  • Big data mining is no longer optional
  • Multiculturalism is essential in the face of globalization
  • At a high level, PwC’s analysis of consumer trends suggests that increasingly customers want to find you wherever they are and not be required to enter your building to receive products or services. Through virtual connections like Skype or Zoom, instant downloads, or home delivery, consumers expect to have multiple options to connect with you outside of the walls of your building. PwC also suggests that not all technology is created equal and that consumers will favor tools that make their life easier and more efficient.

    Given increasing social polarization, PwC’s research emphasizes the importance of personalized communication, noting:

    “Polarization forces value and relevance to get personal. The polarization of the retail landscape, combined with increased consumer connectivity, will be reflected in key consumer drivers that will shape the flavor of this wall-less retail environment. More personalized and contextualized communication will change the nature of the retailer as an expert. For instance, signage and service will be part of the equation, but unless retailers can apply that expertise to customized specifics about a particular shopper’s life, they may lose the opportunity to build loyalty.”

    Similarly, as it relates to transparency, big data, and globalization, PwC’s findings indicate:

    “Retail brands will also need to leverage the ―transparency in all actions performed – and this visibility will recast the nature of premium brands to be more transparent and authoritative. Big Data (large and complex sets of data that come from multiple sources) mining will enable retailers to also know a great amount about their shoppers, with insights that go well beyond their transactional behavior…Additionally, multiculturalism will become an integral part of doing business as more and more brands and conversations globalize. Globalization requires more nimble retail operating models.”

    In response to these drivers, here are some steps my clients and I are taking:

  • Review customer journey maps of core customer segments looking for opportunities to drive product and service delivery in keeping with a “world without walls”
  • Evaluate all current and future planned technologies from the perspective of the efficiency value they will create for customers
  • Leverage “big data” wherever possible to create customer insights and offer guidance on innovation or tailored service delivery
  • Contextualize messaging and communication based on customer segmentation
  • Think about everything we do from a global and multicultural perspective (How will this be experienced by people in _________?)
  • Speaking of communication, I’d love to talk to you as you seek to address the drivers fueling customer expectations in 2020 and beyond, simply use my effort reducing technology and we can schedule a conversation that doesn’t require you to enter the walls of my building.

Related: Prioritization: Looking Back, Letting Go, and Moving Forward