Posts Tagged digital

Optimal customer experience, without intrusiveness

Never before have we had access to personal data as we do today. Finding the fine line between considerate and intrusive customization is hard to establish, but not impossible. Finding the right balance will ensure an optimal customer experience. 

Being single can be lonely; at least it is for many people. Seeing your friends happy with their partners, living full lives together, consistently highlights the mundane monotony of going home, solo, to a Netflix binge.

At least Netflix would never break your heart!

Considering this, for many, in moments of despair at romantic prospects, matters are made worse with the constant and intrusive stream of sponsored ads that would pop-up on the laptop. Pop-ups suggesting you try eHarmony and other such sites. Not having a partner, and being reminded online of that fact, is a potentially unpleasant and embarrassing scenario for many people.

Such anxiety or frustration at the use of personal data, to create customization still pales, however, in comparison to horror stories about personal, private details of peoples’ lives being exposed to all and sundry as a result of targeted engagement. Finding out your teenage daughter is pregnant because of suggested products, or discovering a spouse’s infidelity through an annoying Ashley Madison side-banner is not optimal.

Now more than ever, there are opportunities for personalization in customer service with email marketing, on-site optimization and other promotional mechanisms. Businesses have the capacity to know an enormous amount about its customers before they walk in, or back in, the door.

However, this also means greater opportunity to upset and isolate the customer base. Caution is paramount in avoiding any semblance of overstepping the mark; customers want to feel appreciated without overt examination or exposure of their innermost traits or thoughts.

Not only this, but businesses have a moral and ethical responsibility to treat data pertaining to customers, and the customers themselves, with dignity and respect.

Knowing where the line is, and not overstepping it, is crucial.

With that in mind, there are a number of considerations businesses can take into account when dealing with personal information:

  • Show respect and transparency. If opportunities arise to use customer data, take the time to explain how and why you wish to utilize it. If it is being used in a way that will subsequently offer more value to those customers, make that clear.
  • Each customer is unique. Specific targeted engagement may be exciting and necessary to one person but come across as creepy to another. Be prudent with personalization.
  • Offer choice. Allowing customers the ability to opt in or out of customized features and services, and change their level of engagement with your business, helps instill trust and loyalty. Being a pushy salesman – in-store or online – is a surefire way to getting someone to walk out the door.
  • Be human. Technology should not get in the way of genuine human interaction. Customers can tell the difference between someone genuinely remembering their name versus engaging with a bot armed with programmed personal information, utilizing virtual chat and automated responses. Retaining strong social interaction that is and sounds human, rather than rigid, will likely endear customers to the business and thereby allow for greater optimization and targeting.

 

Striking the right balance between using customer data in fruitful, productive ways that will deliver needed, gratifying individual experiences versus using data to engender digital intrusiveness is fundamentally important for businesses to retain the trust and confidence of its customer base.

The online sphere is moving at a pace not necessarily in keeping with individuals’ expectations and understanding, and thus it is the responsibility of those handling personal data to use it in a fashion compatible with idiosyncratic needs and ethical parameters, together with honesty and options for that engagement.

 

 

Innovating for a New Breed of Business Travellers – Part 1

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Image Credit: Starlab Tumblr

[first of 2 part blog series]

Part of the perks and woes of my job as a consultant is the frequent travel. It’s the easiest conversation starter that sparks passionate debate with the people I meet. While it definitely helps rack up the loyalty points and has it’s adventurous allure, the reality is that constant travel is grueling, and has been lacking in freshness in recent years. The expectations of business travel have also evolved – with company travel bans and more frugal budgets, the days of decadent schmoozing trips are long gone. The new business traveller, especially millennials, have developed a new set of expectations, and the industry is finally starting to catch on.

Here’s the first of a two part series on the hospitality industry’s much needed innovation refresh.

Buzzworthy, budget-smart

The new business traveller still wants unique experiences that can make work trips more delightful and story-worthy, but they want smart finds that show they are sensitive about the way they spend the company’s money.

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Image Credit: Wired

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Image Credit: USA Today

Jetblue recently launched Jetblue mint, a premium coast-to-coast flight service that got tech execs all excited, even warranting a tweet from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. Boasting lie-flat beds with massage function, a small-plates menu created in partnership with new York restaurant Saxon + Parole, and a take home Birchbox amenity kit, the service is available on two routes: JFK to SFO, and JFK to LAX. Starting from $599, it is stunningly half the price of traditional first class tickets.

Non-traditional players like Airbnb are also targeting the business traveller with its corporate program, a great option for longer trips which give travellers a more home-like experience with kitchen and laundry facilities, which could help companies save in the long run.

New Millennial lifestyle brands

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Image Credit: Aloft Hotels

The big hotel brands are also taking notice of the shifting landscape, launching new lifestyle brands with the millennial traveler in mind, such as Hyatt Centric, AC Marriott, Aloft hotels, Radisson Red, and Canopy by Hilton – all of them aiming to become destination hubs for both locals and visitors, featuring convenient locations, bold, modern design and technology, cocktail culture and mingling spaces, with special attention on health and wellness. They are a welcome breath of fresh air for those looking for an alternative to the usual expensive, overly corporate and stuffy, dated options.

Co-creating with a tech-fluent generation

It’s accepted now that the modern traveller is tech-obsessed and always connected. What the travel industry is also recognizing is that this techy generation is opinionated, and not shy to share their ideas. Connected guests will not only know all about your brand but will have formed an opinion about your brand way before they even step foot in your door.

So rather than innovate for them, why not innovate with them? Especially with those who are your self-appointed brand ambassadors.

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Image Credit: Starlab Tumblr

Take Starwood for instance, who recently launched Starlabs (an innovation incubator space blending design, technology and luxury), where associates, owners, developers, customers and partners can converge and scope out the latest guest technology shaping the hotel of the future, such as keyless entry, BotIr robotic butlers, Oculus bikes, smart mirrors & vanities and more.

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Image Credit: Starlab Tumblr

Marriott Hotels also launched an online co-creation platform where anyone can submit new ideas, and fellow travellers can vote on which ones are most brilliant. The winning idea of 2014 is a bartenders in residence program, which is now being launched at select Marriott properties.

With the emergence of these new co-creating platforms, hotels are positioned to launch successful experiences that will resonate with their guests.

Stay tuned for the second part of the series to learn other ways that hotels have been innovating hospitality, through bleisure and convenience maximus.

Digital Innovation

It has been a busy start to the year here at Antedote, we have been out delivering innovation and insight projects across the US, Europe and Asia so the blog has taken a bit of a back seat. However with a week back in the office before I am off on a month long research project I wanted to write a post about Digital Innovation.

One of the benefits of living and working in the technology and innovation hub that is San Francisco is that we experience new business models and ideas before they are rolled out across the rest of the US and the world. We have started to help leading brands connect with some of these new technologies/ start-ups, for example through delivering new activation experiences.

Here are some of the disruptive innovations that we have seen and been using recently:

Good Eggs

This startup aims to bring the famers market to your door through partnering with local producers. Now a number of us here in the Antedote offices are frequent shoppers at Whole Foods and local farmers markets but we have found ourselves moving over to Good Eggs to do a good amount of our weekly shopping. The reason? Fantastically fresh, high quality foods for a lot less than it costs to shop and Whole Foods.

Google Shopping Express

We are among some of the first people to use this new same-day deliver shopping service aimed at disrupting Amazon’s position at the top of the internet shopping podium. So far the experience has been a bit mixed, most of the brands that you can order from are the big store brands – Target, Walgreens, Office Depot and Staples. These are stores that most of us can get to pretty easily and actually don’t need same day delivery from. Personally I would like to see Google incorporate some smaller providers, ones that it takes time to find and shop at.

Lyft

The next generation on from Uber and Flywheel is Lyft, we are seeing more and more of the pink moustaches hanging from the front of cars in and around the city. Lyft is a ride-sharing service, basically normal people driving others where they want to go. We having quite got round to giving this a shot yet but it is definitely on the list to try. Given that Lyft does not require commercial licenses and insurance, it may well disrupt the taxi/ limousine market on cost alone. Great service would be a bonus!

These are just some of the new disruptive technologies we are seeing everyday, we will write another post soon.