The business world is no stranger to ups and downs, but has weathered storms of trends and controversies throughout history. However, today’s rapidly changing world has sent ripples through even longstanding pillars of business. The two primary drivers behind this shifting landscape are technology and changing consumer preferences. Technology is firmly embedded in the modern consumer’s life today, and businesses need to take note. The consumer also wants more from the business, but not necessarily in typical ways.
Dynamic Customer Engagement
Not only is a digital presence mandatory for companies, the customer should not feel as though they are being advertised to. Custom elearning development can aid with this and social media is an excellent outlet for promoting finished content. Not only do social media connections increase consumers’ awareness of products, it makes the consumer feel as though there is a connection between him and the company. He sees a fast food chain tweet something funny, and he relates to it. Or perhaps a consumer posts a complaint on Facebook and gets a rapid resolution, and therefore feels valued as a customer. Another connection tool is gamification. Some gamification examples would include things like earning points for purchases, giveaways, and Facebook games. Any kind of interaction where the consumer does not feel as though he is getting a sales pitch is likely to keep his interest and make a positive impression.
The immersive nature of the smartphone’s many offerings often dictates the consumer’s choices. If a certain restaurant doesn’t have a website so somebody can check the menu, they may click on a different restaurant where they can find information online, and end up dining there instead. Just like that, the tech-delayed restaurant lost a potential customer. Even though a phone number may have been available, that represents an extra step for the consumer; and extra steps are often avoided simply because the consumer is accustomed to maximum convenience. What this means for businesses is that they can no longer afford to skimp on their digital presence. Even having a website and sending e-mail offers are not enough to keep up with the competition. Social media is the current marketing juggernaut, and it is too big to miss out on.
For better or worse, customers are paying more attention than ever to what a company really represents. they want to do business with places they can feel good about, who are dedicated to the same values and causes as they are. The customer wants more than just a product. They want a warm coffeehouse experience with their coffee and to know their shoes were made without child labor. The experience of getting the product needs to be engaging and satisfying. Only a small percentage of consumers say they are loyal to brands. They need to see more from a company for it to keep their business.
Convenience has evolved into a product that is the way you want it, when you want it. Rideshare apps, smart thermostats, 3D printing and wearable tech cater to the customer with precision. Again, extra steps seem extraneous to a customer who always has a dozen options. Companies needs to go above and beyond like never before in order to give a product or service personal value to the consumer.
Corporate Culture Innovation
For an incredibly long time, the employer set the rules and tone for the workplace with little concern whether the employees were happy or not. This paradigm has been tilted. First, the employee has more resources than ever to find other opportunities, and to research companies and see what others say about working there. Secondly, research has shown that satisfied employees are more productive. So companies no longer want employees to begrudgingly complete tasks; if employee satisfaction affects the bottom line, then it becomes a higher priority. Lastly, finding top talent is paramount to a company’s continued success. Top tech companies offer all kinds of perks, fun workplaces, and employee-dictated schedules to attract and keep the best and brightest workers.
Businesses will be wise to evaluate current customer dispositions and technology trends regularly and often. From employee-focused workplaces to gamification, these trends present both a challenge and an opportunity. Many companies are being left in the dust by ignoring the changing times, while others are finding great success by carefully monitoring these changes and adjusting their business accordingly.