How to reinvent the customer experience journey in 2018

 

Our Trending 2018 report is the most downloaded piece of content we have ever produced. Although we are keen to point out that trends don’t neatly fit into calendar years – and trendspotting is definitely not a once-a-year event –  our report highlights a handful of themes that will impact lives and expectations in novel ways in 2018.

In an emerging theme we call Life in Beta Mode, we describe a coming world in which the post-purchase stage of consumption is redefined by connected products and devices. We have already witnessed that certain products are not intended for peak performance at point of sale. Instead, they are routinely and remotely upgraded over time as upgrades become available and algorithms adapt to the user. In turn, consumer expectations of “after-sales care” will inevitably change.

And this is something that many will welcome, especially those maximising consumers who seek post-purchase reassurance that their money has been well spent. Therefore, brands must anticipate a greater need for post-purchase support, value-signalling and a clear process of rolling onboarding. Very soon, how a product will evolve in one, two or even three years will become a deciding factor and alluring signal of value.

When it comes to facilitating post-purchase onboarding, chatbots present themselves as a valuable channel. 52% of global consumers are interested in using a chat messenger service to ask a brand questions about how to use a product or service. As for potential, we see that usage of smart devices (with the exception of the smartphone) is still a minority behaviour – but it is set to grow. Our data forecast predicts that by 2025, 56% of global consumers will be interested in, or already using, smart home appliances.

The Trending 2018 report notes multiple brands who are committed to constantly reinventing their products and onboarding customers in the process. Tesla is an example of a brand pushing near-constant rollouts of updates, where vehicles receive “over-the-air” software updates with new features. And once installed, onboarding tutorials can be watched on the in-car dashboard display.

And then there’s the Amazon Echo. Here, a prominent feature of the brand-customer relationship is the weekly email notification alerting users to new product features, from supported apps to question configurations that Alexa can now understand and respond to. Significant to this strategy is how these updates are often related to topical events or the changing season, providing valuable context for the product and reason to use it.

 

How can brands act?

As we walk into the IoT era, products that peak at POS could soon seem relatively underpowered by comparison. By developing products that spend a life in beta mode with routine upgrades, brands create the opportunity to maintain a positive dialogue (and potential new revenue stream) long after purchase. Of course, how updates and upgrades are communicated is key; few will be happy to see a flood of emails about new features each week. To avoid overexposure and switch-off, deliver genuinely useful functionality improvements and clear messaging that educates customers about how best to use.

 

Interested in finding out more? Download the Trending 2018 report and uncover case studies, sector implications and Foresight Factory consumer data.