August 6, 2013

Exceeding Consumer Expectations in a Digital World

It’s getting more and more difficult to impress consumers in the digital realm. Customer expectations are at an all-time high when it comes to top-of-the-line service and user experience, and differentiating oneself from the competition is a challenge for many.

In a recent McKinsey piece, Paul Willmott discussed 9 do-or-die questions that every company needs to ask when it comes to technology. While discussing how to meet consumer expectations in a digital world, Willmott says it’s essential for companies to:

  • Understand how their customer experience compares with that of leaders in other sectors.
  • Foreshadow what their customers will expect in the future, and what it will it take to delight them.
  • Have clear plans for how to meet or exceed their expectations.

Companies like Amazon and Netflix have found a way to deliver products and services directly to the consumer while providing an intuitive, personalized experience. Businesses that offer their products or services online will need to develop their IT capabilities (big data, digital channels, etc.), which can be costly and time-consuming, especially when many of these companies were born before the digital age. The bar has been set pretty high, and companies playing catch-up may feel like they have no chance at competing.

In order for technology to have a positive impact on business, however, your business plans need to support the potential of your new technology initiatives. Technology doesn’t come cheap, but it can drive revenue and improve business performance if done right.

Leveraging technology to better serve consumers is certainly not a new concept, but as digital quickly becomes the most popular sales channel, simply emulating what the competition is doing is no longer enough. Companies need to be more proactive when it comes to recognizing new technological opportunities and threats in order to effectively compete in an increasingly populated marketplace.

Outlining a clear and realistic plan is essential when it comes to motivating staff and setting goals. It’s easy to get carried away, and while exceeding consumer expectations is a noble goal, you don’t want to over-reach. Work within your confines, but understand the need to break free from them if need be.

By taking advantage of certain opportunities and addressing direct and indirect threats, businesses will be able to reduce their operational costs and improve productivity. Carefully analyzing your business environment is paramount to building an integrated and achievable long-term strategy that can adapt to the needs of the market. Base your IT investments on what you learn from your external environment, and you’ll be able to better meet, or even exceed, your consumer’s expectations.