The following post was written by Mike Gualtieri, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, where he serves application development and delivery professionals.
Many businesses just don’t get it. They talk customer. But they don’t get that we are in the midst of one of the most disruptive shifts in business since Al Gore invented the Internet in 1993. I call this shift “digital power to the people,” because never before in human history have customers had:
- Unprecedented choice. Customers have a mind-boggling array of choices: Hundreds of equally compelling retailers, products, brands, and services are at their fingertips, across the street, or delivered to their front door. Kellogg’s offers 30 flavors of Pop-Tarts.There are over 480 million Web sites. If customers don’t like the price, selection, brand, service, or experience at one place, they can go elsewhere. Never before have customers had so many choices through so many channels.
- Unprecedented voice. Customers can also talk about their choices using the largest megaphone ever built—social media. One status update on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter can potentially reach millions. Social chatter has forced many firms to make changes or at least respond. Just ask Netflix. When Netflix decided to change its pricing plan, it set off a social media firestorm. Many Netflix customers were outraged, forcing cofounder and CEO Reed Hastings to apologize on his blog, saying, “I messed up.” Social media users feel the power and use it to express pleasure or dissatisfaction, even topple governments.
Digital power to the people is customer choice and voice. It is driving every business and government in the world to change, and to change quickly and dramatically.
Customers expect and can demand excellence
Credit Steve Jobs. Customer expectations for digital experiences, whether mobile, on the Web, or in Apple retail stores, have never been higher thanks to him. People have experiences with firms that are amazingly intuitive and make them feel pampered. They quickly start to wonder why all their experiences can’t be like that. The bar has been raised — big time. And now consumers have the digital power to demand that you and your competitors deliver on those expectations. That’s the big shift. That’s why firms must break down the complacency of old-style customer relationship management, customer experience, and application development. You’re the ant now.
Unfortunately many businesspeople are at a disadvantage because they don’t understand or keep up with technology. What if I told you that in three years, the smartphone will be considered as barbaric to use as a typewriter because of wearable computing, such as Google Glasses? Firms must completely rethink how customer relationship management, customer experience, and technology should work together to respond to fickle, spoiled customers to avoid a digital tragedy.