Wednesday, June 10

How Future Communication Will Dictate Customer Experience

future communication
If you're looking for the next disruption in marketing, consider how technology is positioning communication as the primary driver in the customer experience. The change will be truly astounding.

Marketers can no longer be satisfied with the traditional five-stage buying process model: problem recognition, information research, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and post purchase behavior. They must shift toward a model that is more robust, considering every consumer touch point prior to problem recognition and through the life of the product (and into the next purchase).

This is especially true as communication becomes an inescapable part of every product, with communication-centric technologies baked into them or as communication-based networks are developed around them. In some cases, communication is part of the product and customer experience, influencing the buying process every step of the way.

Five areas where communication is becoming critical to the customer experience.

Ferrari
1. Environmental Content. The performance sports car that emerged from its historic factory entrance in Maranello, 1947, has long been regarded for its innovation, passion, and diligence. In keeping with tradition, Ferrari showrooms have added augmented reality to the small screen, allowing patrons to match up digital content to the physical vehicle in front of them. Along with scan highlights, patrons can add features and change the colors on the screen with the swipe of few fingers.

Communication that integrates seamlessly with the environment becomes part of the experience.

Skully
2. Enchanted Items. Skully caught my attention some time ago when it unveiled its future concept to eliminate the motorcyclist's blind spot with a rear facing camera and change the experience with an interactive and transparent head's up display. This technology isn't built to distract drivers but rather eliminate distractions with an assist from augmented reality for GPS convenience and the safety of situational awareness.

Communication applications built into the helmet become an integral part of the product itself.

Tesco
3. Digital Storefronts. South Korea has created retail space out of thin air by installing display walls in its subways. The displays interact with mobile devices, allowing subway passengers to shop for groceries while waiting for their next connection. Once purchased with a point-and-click mobile app, the order is presumably delivered around the time the passenger arrives to whatever destination they preselect. Future applications could include interactive touch screens or the option to pick up any orders on the way home.

Digital content and communication is shifting toward truly functional customer experiences.


Corning
4. Portable Data. Originally envisioned by Corning, the world is not too far off from turning a wide variety of surfaces into digital interfaces that interact seamlessly with any mobile or portable data in design. If you can imagine an instructor or speaker presenting educational material on the big screen while participants capture the presentation on the small screen (and automatically receive e-handouts on cue), then you've only scratched the surface of what's possible and probable in the years ahead. The prospect opens up an entirely new canvas for graphic artists and communicators to consider.

Presentation displays and increasingly portable data will redefine what's possible for communication.

Microsoft
5. AR/VR. Microsoft, Sony and other companies are busily developing the next edition of what virtual reality and augmented reality might mean for gaming. Entertainment is only a starting point. Whether the experience is detached (virtual reality) or environmentally responsive (augmented reality), its applications will eventually grow exponentially into training programs, fitness instructors, and a variety of educational applications with virtual classrooms, holographic illusions, or immersive reenactments that provide people a perspective of what any time or place might be like.

Immersive and responsive communication will challenge professionals in unimaginable ways.

While these are just some of the ways that technology is working to change the interface, all of them represent the increasing impact communication will have on the customer experience. It will become an ever-present part of the environment and will sometimes be baked into the very functionality of the product.

But even without these advances and near future, communication is playing an ever increasing role in the customer experience. Every bit of content produced and shared by organizations today have positive and negative consequences to brand recognition and reputation. This includes customer service complaints that play out publicly online to the frequency of irrelevant interruption and value of the communication offered (as opposed to the value organizations sometimes think they offer).

And with this in mind, maybe it is time to stop thinking so much about a sales funnel but an experience  corridor that a company provides from its initial introduction though the life of the product and eventual replacement. After all, customer satisfaction, not sales, is a truer benchmark for longevity.
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