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Customer Engagement: Harnessing Disruption

This week I’m attending Customer Engagement World in New York. “The Customer is the New Boss” is Lawrence Dvorchik’s theme for Customer Engagement World. But hasn’t the customer always been the boss? We always say customer is the boss, but our engagements methods rarely reflect this. Too often companies are trying to engage in a one-way stream of communications to customers and potential customers without having a great way to make that a two-way stream.
Ryan Craver, senior vice president of strategy at Hudson’s Bay Company, opened CEW with his keynote “Harnessing Disruption.” First Ryan talked about what he means by disruption. Companies typically talk about how to cause disruption, buy usually come up with marketing programs that don’t engage customers directly.

Ryan Craver


There are 3 key enablers to disruption today:

  1. Connectivity – by 2020 80% of adults will have smartphones.  Think about disruption caused by connected devices and applications – Uber, OpenTable, etc.
  2. Scalability – infinite computing resources are becoming available.
  3. Distribution – limitless touch points and borderless commerce via Amazon, Etsy, etc.

All of these enablers have created customers who demand instant access, instant service and instant deliver.
Ryan identified 3 main disrupting trends:

  • Channel Irrelevance
    • Retail foot traffic has dropped, yet retail sales have remained strong and exceeded inflation.
    • Ecommerce is not dictated by age – every one does it.
    • Mobile Commerce is driving eCommerce.  mCommerce is expected to increase by 157% by 2018.
    • Eye share has dramatically shifted: In four years, TV has decreased 11% and Online has increased 59%.
    • Customer preference for channel varies by department, so you need to cover all channels.  (See A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study July 2014.)
    • The net: Each customer has adopted disruption in a different way.
  • Social Media has become Social Commerce
    • Social commerce is finally here after 7-8 years of growth.
    • We now spend 37 minutes per day on social networks, eclipsing email and all other forms
    • Everyone is bullish on many social networks
  • Mobile with Location

    Mobile Beacon

    • Mobile has arrived – in 2014 mobile growth has grown over 500% for accessing digital content
    • Apps vs Sites. Time spent on mobile apps is high, but most of that time is spent on gaming, messaging and social media.
    • Commerce and Shopping get about 1.5 hours per month and has only grown 12% YOY.
    • App selection is overwhelming making it difficult for apps to gain scale.  Apple’s store has over 1.5m apps and games and over 80% maybe “zombie” apps.
    • Not a question of one or other, retailers must have both.  Mobile apps and mobile sites are used for different purposes.
    • Mobile empowers customers in-store. Customers are willing to share location if provided offers, deals or points. However if you ask them to share their phone number, most will balk at it.
    • Using mobile location drives more purposed feet.  Banners conversion is very low. Geo Push based on customer proximity is marginally better, but still low.  Beacons provide much better conversion.
    • Net: beacons are driving highly personalized, intent based content and advertisements.

Here are Ryan’s key takeaways on how to harness disruption:

  1. Unapologetic pursuit of understanding and satisfying the customer
  2. Adopt innovation as a corporate wide virus
  3. Relentless understanding of market and technology trends impacting the customer.


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