The emergence of a new category of customers, Generation Novel, is transforming the way service experiences are created and delivered. Here Brian Solis explains why the customer should come first – but in ways we hadn’t previously imagined.
There’s a lot of talk about the “next normal” and the “new normal”. But why make “normal” the benchmark at all? Was normal so great that we want to replicate or return to it?
From a customer service point of view, the answer might be no. After all, “I love contacting customer service”, said no customer ever.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. And it shouldn’t. Because there are myriad opportunities to create customer service experiences that make customers want to pick up the phone or log in or send the message or fill out the online form. So let’s ditch normal and embrace amazing.
To do so, we need to get to know Generation Novel, understand what makes them tick and create the kinds of digital service experiences that resonate with them.
Generation Novel is a new and unusual category that has emerged out of the pandemic. These are customers, across generations, who are masters of their digital universe. They skip across the channels, devices and platforms that allow them to work, learn and shop remotely as well as engage politically and socially with agility and ease.
They are also a group for whom the pandemic has left a somatic marker – a visceral and lasting memory of how it affected their lives. So, yes, they want personalised, seamless, integrated digital experiences, but they also want to deal with brands that understand how they feel and which speak to the issues that matter to them. They want to see that insight and empathy inform each and every interaction they have. Indeed, 71% of consumers say that businesses that show empathy during the pandemic have earned their loyalty.
And if your brand doesn’t deliver service that meets that agility and demand for empathy? Well, Generation Novel will experiment with, and ultimately choose, brands that do. According to the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report 86% of customers say the societal role of companies is changing and 90% expect companies to clearly demonstrate their values with action on social and economic injustices and on environmental issues. And they’re not just all talk: 61% have already stopped buying from companies whose values don’t align with theirs. So how do we create customer experiences that meet these new imperatives?
I often think of something Steve Jobs once said. Shortly after returning to Apple following his forced departure, he was asked what he was going to do to make Apple great again. After sitting quietly and composing himself for a minute, he stood and looked at everybody with a sense of passion and resolve, and he said: ”You know, we can’t think about it from a technology perspective. You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology, not the other way around.”
It’s a profound lesson and one that we often lose sight of in our race to implement the best, shiniest new digital toys.
Make customer experience your touchstone. Think about how someone feels when they’re engaged, when they use your products, when they turn to your brand for help or for inspiration delight. Then think about how you’re going to create or facilitate those experiences using digital technologies. That should be your starting point.
Yes, going digital can and should be our mission but only if it means more than just upgrading our systems, moving to the latest and greatest and accelerating timelines. Let’s go digital, but never at the expense of the human being on the other side of the screen.
Accelerating our investments in digital technologies to create more moments where customers feel like they’ve really been seen and heard, should also apply to employee experience so they too feel valued and appreciated. Technologies should be designed and implemented with experience in mind – whether it be for customer or employee.
The latest Salesforce State of Service report shows 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. Ninety one percent of customers say good customer service makes them more likely to buy again.
These are two powerful stats that reveal exactly where your customers are at when it comes to experience and service. They matter. A lot.
Now more than ever, customer service is not a department or a silo. And it certainly isn’t a cost centre. Customer service is a critical strategic asset for customer experience and business growth that must be supported by great digital solutions.
Indeed, high performing service professionals are significantly less likely to be siloed off from other departments than underperformers and, while accessing a 360-degree view of the customer on a single screen is still a sticking point, 83% of service organisations use the same CRM system as their marketing and sales colleagues.
The emergence of Generation Novel has shone a light on gaps in the way customer service experiences are created and delivered. Now, customer service is set to close those gaps and use that light to illuminate not a new normal, but a new "amazing."