One of the inevitable consequences of rapidly developing technology is that customers’ expectations will also change. Customers now expect delivery times and levels of service that they would never have imagined 10 years ago, and for a sales team, keeping up with these expectations is a big challenge.
When a new company enters a market and does things a little quicker, slicker or smarter, consumers see what is really possible and become reluctant to accept anything less, and I believe there are four big technological revolutions that are going to affect these customer relationships in the coming years:
1. Technology is becoming invisible
You only have to think back a few years to remember how big and clunky technology was and you needed to be pretty tech savvy to work with it. Technology has moved on dramatically, but it is also much more intuitive with our lives slowly becoming automated with sensors, cameras and data helping us every day.
2. Technology makes the total experience better
In the next few years, we can expect technology to create a better experience for our customers with services that are personalised and tailored to the individual. Perhaps the most important development will be mixed reality, combining digital and human elements to create virtual and augmented reality that could give a whole new dimension to this approach.
3. Technology democratises markets
Technology continues to become increasingly accessible, and there are now even a number of initiatives to introduce children to engineering skills that will enable them to discover the Internet of Things. In San Francisco, Tech Shop is a large room with all the equipment you need to make a product, with woodworking tools, 3D printers, laser cutters and more. For just $150 a month people get unlimited access to these devices – it is like a gym, but with technical equipment and experts. Many young entrepreneurs started to make their dreams come true at Tech Shop and the impact on society is huge. It is democratising entrepreneurship so just about anyone can get started with an idea, and the combined value of all the companies that emerged from Tech Shop is already more than $12billion.
4. Technology makes things more transparent
The popularity of technology like block chains is increasing. This makes transactions fully transparent, so, if someone sells a diamond you can see where the diamond was mined and who the previous owners were.
Snapchat is probably the social platform that offers most transparency of what is going on with each of us. It does not share links or third-party content – you can only share what you have experienced yourself, so it is much more transparent than Facebook or Instagram.
Facebook Live is another example. With every person in the world now a potential camera crew capable of broadcasting live events, everything that is happening in the world becomes more transparent. Not long ago we just shared a few photos or a short video after an event, but today's events are broadcast on Facebook. Companies can use this technology as tools to tell their own story in a way that is more transparent than ever, although they do make it more difficult to hide behind a facade.
These technological developments have a major impact on the relationship with your customer, and it is important to think about what is new and what is next if you are going to develop a future-proof customer strategy.
By Prof. Steven Van Belleghem, keynote speaker & inspirator on customer centricity in a digital world. He is also the author of 'When Digital Becomes Human', Kogan Page. Subscribe to his videos or visit his website.