The following post came out of a webinar I ran recently with NewVoiceMedia. This was our hypothesis to generate the discussion.
Another five years of breakthrough technologies fuelling digitally empowered consumers and brands will have taken us to a new ‘normal’. One likely result of everyone getting much smarter is deep organisational alignment replacing the silos of today. At that point, all customer facing functions will operate under a single plan and budget. As by far the richest and most influential budget holder, Marketing has taken command under the united remit of ‘Customer Engagement’.
Of course, the future remains unknown until it arrives. A simple check of previous forecasts shows how poor even experts are at getting it right. So in truth, all we can say is that the future is best described as a series of possible outcomes based on trends already in play. In that sense, Marketing ending up in charge of a combined customer engagement team is one of those possibilities.
And here is why it might become so one day.
Of all the behavioural changes that are indicative of today’s digitally fuelled consumer, I recently came across a benchmark that summarised things perfectly.
“At the turn of the millennium, companies spent twice as much on IT hardware per employee as consumers spent. By 2008, the two sides had reached parity.” Source: Accenture Outlook Journal 2012
This explains the new realities. As of year-end 2013, smartphones enjoyed 60%+ UK penetration. Meanwhile an Indian designed tablet broke the £28 price point, suggesting a huge upswing during 2014 for that technology format as well.
So as consumers, what are we getting up to once we acquire the tech?
Lots! With an ongoing stream of information from aggregators, peer reviews, social sharing and of course that trusted cohort – friends and family, we now live in a state of ongoing re-evaluation throughout the purchasing-consumption-support lifecycle. These days finding a better product, a reduced price point or improved quality of service is just a matter of time. Sometimes a matter of seconds.
It seems we are deeply wedded to this new digital lifestyle. GlobalWebIndex reports that in every single market they survey, users would rather give up their daily coffee and watching TV before they gave up Facebook. And in all markets, except the US, they would rather give up driving their car.
That’s how much real time connectivity has transformed our priorities.
As a result, brands have to be doing something quite extraordinary to have any confidence in their customers’ loyalty. This questions some comforting assumptions we like to trust in. For instance, is it time to rethink NPS and what we hope it tells us? It could be consumers just answer that type of question so they can quickly move on without really considering what is being asked. Doesn’t the research we hear about constant customer churn make that very point? No-one really knows. All that is certain is that brands now dance to their customers’ tune.