The business landscape is in a period of rapid change with new technologies continuing to flood in, but be wary of chasing fads and adding unproven tactics to your 2017 plans. As the new year kicks into high gear, we asked our Connective DX practice leads what they see coming and how they’re advising clients.
Practice leads and specialists from across the agency share several common themes as they analyze the challenges facing customer-centric businesses in the coming year, from keeping up with advances in technology to prioritizing digital resources to gleaning insight from customer data.
Keeping up with changing customer needs
Bryan Maleszyk, Director of User Experience
“I’ve found myself talking quite a bit about the power of flexibility. Recently I’ve said to several clients that ‘your customer’s behavior will change faster than your technology stack,’ and I think that’s going to accelerate in months and years to come.”
“Delivering experiences that are truly customer-centric not only means that it’s important to understand the customer’s state now, and to have an opinion on what they might do in the future, but also to prepare for when you simply don’t or can’t know your customer’s future.”
Marko Muellner, VP, Client Partner
“Digital transformation is accelerating across verticals. Automotive, financial services, healthcare and beyond are all seeing both internal and external threats to the status quo as digital platforms mature. Most organizations will not be able to keep up with the rate of change customers are experiencing—being a CX laggard is becoming more and more expensive.”
Even as more companies are realizing that customer-first digital strategies are vital to their bottom line, the way we connect with the real people who use our products is changing faster than ever—forcing us to innovate how we reach and build meaningful value for our audience.
Derek Phillips, Director of Content Strategy
“I think this year will be the year of voice search. With the wide adoption of technology like Siri, Amazon Echo and Google Home, companies should consider how customers may be searching using voice commands (vs. typed keywords) to remain relevant.”
Tom Bennett, Experience Strategist
“Twitter is over—get over it. I know that sounds negative, but I truly believe it’s a trend to watch. The age of a positive social benefit from social media is in question.”
(Hear more from Tom and Derek as they discuss this thread on episode 21 of The Metastential Podcast.)
While Tom is feeling the end of an era, others are finding new, holistic modes to help clients focus their efforts.
Sheryl Hampton, Senior Director, Account Planning
“In my work with Everence, I’m diving deep into cultural transformation around the customer and the physical working space needed to make it happen—customer experience rooms and customer innovation labs. The impact a physically different space has on a person is tremendous. These physical workspaces provide the creative room to think outside in, encouraging empathy for customers and putting folks in the right mindset for customer-focused brainstorms and hackathons.”
Data brings clarity, helps you prioritize
Our clients have big projects and even bigger expectations for success, but our digital strategists advise rigorous discretion. Instead of doing more this year, consider doing less—and free up your resources.
Dave Wieneke, Digital Strategy Practice Lead
“The DELETE button should be the strategist’s and perhaps your team’s best friend. When setting priorities answer just one question: ‘How does this initiative square with my firm’s long-term approach to increase earnings?’ Don’t know? Make it your 2017 resolution to find out in the greatest detail you can.
When you find initiatives that are not linked to long-term earnings, and customer initiatives that aren’t linked to the ways these relationships create value, that’s a huge find. As a manager, deprioritization is the equivalent of the DELETE key. It creates the opportunity to better align the resources you marshal. After all, leaders who only add ambitions risk spreading their bets and their staff too thin. By releasing out-dated priorities, you’re focusing your resources to take on the must-win efforts required for your organization to lead and thrive. “
David Leal, Digital Analytics Specialist, echoes this in his laser-guided advice for 2017, which he offers in the context of data, but says it’s actually sound advice in any application: “If the answer to a question will not change your decisions or actions, it’s not a question worth asking.”
So how do you know which questions to ask or which initiatives are worth pursuing? Just follow the numbers—get the data.
Lars von Sneidern, Customer Data & Insights Practice Lead
“Analytics and insights governance continues to be a gap for most of our clients. As data services get more and more integrated, in-house analytics expertise is more important than ever. The tools are evolving and becoming more integrated—companies can’t be afraid to invest in the clarity that a solid analytics stack provides.” (Read more insights from Lars about customer data on our Connective Thinking blog)
Steve Kemper, Account Director
“In 2017, healthcare organizations will ramp up efforts to gain a more holistic view of the patient, not so much out of pure altruism or empathy, but because it feeds a larger, more complete data set upon which they can conduct research, innovate… and yes, profit.”
Marko Muellner, VP, Client Partner
“It’s the same old story: At the core of all this digital transformation is data. The sooner companies decide they are actually customer data companies, the sooner they can design a path to a successful future.”
Don’t get left behind
As consumers are beginning to see the benefits of automation and personalization, their expectations for seamless personalized services are becoming more sophisticated and fickle. You won’t be able to track all the trends, so your best course is stay focused on your customer's needs. A solid digital strategy, including a meaningful data and analytics plan, is your path to success in 2017.
What's keeping you up at night? Share your 2017 challenges and priorities in the comments below. And let us know how we can help.
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