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Customer experiences

Why personalised, timely customer experiences are leaving consumers cold


Brands have invested considerable amounts into delivering experiences that are hyperpersonalised and delightful, but consumers remain largely unimpressed because these interactions are still missing a key ingredient. 

21st Nov 2019
Contributor MyCustomer
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Brands are spending considerable time and resources to deliver experiences that are hyperpersonalised, memorable and delivered at the perfect moment, but consumers remain largely unimpressed because these interactions are still missing a key ingredient - the "human craving to cooperate with others for a greater purpose".

A new Forrester Research report entitled ‘Predictions 2020: The Customer in 2020’ forecasts that next year will be a pivotal year in which the concepts of ‘purpose’ and meaningful group identity start taking centre stage for consumers. This means that brands will need to respond swiftly and authentically to deliver experiences that fulfill these cravings or risk being left behind.

Forrester suggests that while brands have invested heavily into creating novel and timely content and experiences, these “self-centred benefits” have failed to meet the very human “need for affiliation and meaning”.

This means that consumers will begin seeking out a more “meaningful group identity”. In other words, they will spend less time on generic social media and more on closed social media spaces, such as private Facebook groups or Marco Polo asynchronous video chats.

“Marketers who learn how to craft group-targeted experiences instead of merely personalised messages will have a new powerful method for reaching people in the context of their identities as Geminis or their participation in their ancestral folk dances,” the study says.

A hollow universe

Another manifestation of this dynamic is a desire to help others by actively contributing to, rather than being a passive recipient of, a given service. The research points out that in a “self-centred world”, where “diligent customer experience effort” has made everything “easy and friction-free”, the risk is that people feel they are at the “centre of what is ultimately a hollow universe”.

As a result, the report commends Apple’s “masterful strategy” of inviting its Watch Series 5 customers to volunteer their health data in order to support research that is already saving lives as it “makes the customer a partner in generating value, not just receiving it”.

But there are other ingredients in the mix too. As consumers spend progressively less time on group social activities, such as supporting their local scouts or lacrosse team, which both enable them to “seek joy in their personal lives” and give them “hope”, they are likely to look to brands that help them achieve this in other ways.

The study explains: “In 2020, more brands will help them tie that hope to a real source of joy. Under Amor is now a [sportswear] brand that actively provides you with the tools to achieve and monitor your fitness performance, giving customers something to attach their hopes to. Others will follow.”

But the research also points out that while most consumers may be after hope, a group identity and the ability to contribute to a positive future, their resources inevitably “have limits”.

Taking bold action

“There will be a point of diminishing returns past which the marginal utility of buying one more purpose-filled product, or joining one more meaningful group will approach zero,” it says. “That limit will likely be in the single digits, probably seven or even fewer.”

Therefore, even though mounting pressure from increasing numbers of values-based consumers over recent years has been pushing big brands to take “bold action to showcase their values”, only those that “move with noticeable swiftness and authenticity will capitalise on this consumer demand”.

As a final note of warning, the report intimates that over time as technology, such as AI-enabled services that perform sophisticated tasks and smart devices that talk back, becomes more human-like, customers will increasingly “project their emotional needs for hope and meaningful group identity” onto it.

This means they will become less adept at, and less desirous of, distinguishing between human- and tech-generated experiences, which in turn means many will “fall prey to human-like, machine-based exploitation schemes like deep fakes”.

The response from tech companies though will inevitably be to “adopt policies and develop experience nudges like Pinterest’s ‘All caught up’ feature designed to keep people away from the dark allure of human-seeming tech”, the report concludes.


Replies (1)

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By aki.kalliatakis1
21st Nov 2019 15:44

Hi Cath,

Could not agree with you more! I first heard Barack Obama use the term "You can't put lipstick on a pig," and this is what so many executives don't seem to get to grips with. In Colin Shaw's work, he emphasises the extreme importance of the insight that customers are people first - emotional, with seemingly impossible expectations, irrational perceptions, and all the other completely human traits that make us so unique.

It doesn't matter how often the hotel receptionist uses my name in a robot-like voice that indicates it is obviously just a duty, it doesn't matter that the computer recorded two-year old information about what I like to eat, or that I don't like pillows that are too high and give me a stiff neck. What I want to do is talk about how I missed my son's 12th birthday because of my trip this time, or how I lost two stone since they last saw me.

Well done on a thought provoking article!

Thanks (1)