I love listening to podcasts. I will be doing some long-distance driving in the coming weeks and I will take the opportunity to listen to a number of downloaded podcasts that I haven’t had time to listen to at home. One of my favourite podcasting sites is IT Conversations, among others.
The Hutley podcast is about the importance of customer experience in a world of Web 2.0 and Web 2.0 consumers. Hutley talks about how consumers are different today as a result of the internet and the instant communication technologies like blogs, social networking sites, and instant messaging. Hutley notes that younger generations are more likely to make decisions based on social networks. Modern businesses need to ensure that the customer experience is positive in terms of the expectations of today’s technology-savvy customers. And this is not just in the consumer space for gadgets and electronic consumerables.
Hutley says that we have moved beyond the transactional web into the collaborative web. Businesses need to be able to communicate quickly, establish dialogue and collaboration with customers, and respond according to customer need. The information technology is available but this still requires a business strategy to make it happen. The tools to provide the collaboration and customer interaction, and objectives to drive that behaviour, will be critical to the success of businesses in the new consumer world of Web 2.0.
The key point about customer experience today, in my mind, is the notion of experience. It is not good enough to sell a commodity, such as a car for example, and then forget about it and the buyer once the vehicle has left the showroom floor. It is true that marketers have always tried to give commodified goods an image or a brand identity to try and instil an experience beyond the commodity itself. I was just reading how sales of the Aston Martin DB5 took off after the 1964 James Bond movie, Goldfinger. The rich and famous obviously yearned to be James Bond.
But what is different today is that the experience is being determined and decided upon by the consumer (consumer empowerment) and not the marketer. Marketers and businesses need to design for a demanding, distractible user. Oh sure, marketers still plug away with image and brands but today these traditional messages are not sticking as well as they used to. Young consumers are not loyal to brands in the same way older generations were. Younger generations rely more on connectedness which is why social networks are so important and why interactivity has become almost second nature.
I am still chasing up some web-based material on online marketing following on from the Hutley podcast. I hope that the podcasts I will listen to in the coming weeks will be as informative.