March 26, 2015

Focus on these three things this year

The world will not end this year. I have been closely monitoring the digitalisation of companies and society for years from the perspective of customer experience management. I have been fortunate enough to be involved in helping companies to change and find new business models. I would like to highlight three things on the basis of my experience that I think will become much more important this year from the point of view of customer experience management.

1. Marketing that actually serves

I have previously spoken of the growing importance of persuasive marketing. These words may sound slightly suspicious when put together but how much easier does it make things when the vehicle inspection station sends you a letter to remind you that your car is due to be inspected or has even already made an appointment for you? I certainly appreciate it.

However, poorly targeted text messages and emails have damaged the reputation of targeted direct marketing. Because of that, very few people can even expect marketing that is targeted towards their needs. At its best, proactive and contextual marketing would mean that customers do not need to search for services; instead, the service comes to the customer at precisely the right time.

It is my view that people are more willing to embrace persuasive marketing than companies think. By this I mean that although I do not want to share my private life with everybody on the internet, I would still appreciate it if my online supermarket could automatically place some of the products I need into my shopping basket or if I received a perfectly timed personal message when there are discount tickets or information about hotels in my holiday destination.

Fully personalized, very precisely targeted marketing works and generates genuine added value for your customers. Stores and banks have amassed a large amount of data about their customers - they often just do not have the required capabilities to use it correctly.

2. Innovation in networks

Ideas can be born anywhere at any time. They often arise in everyday situations as solutions to everyday problems. But if we wish to consciously create innovation, the probability of doing so increases in a multi-disciplinary environment. It increases when different people from different sectors interact. This is the basis for the ideology of Aalto University and our recently launched Bubble Sessions, which bring together with thought leaders from different sectors.

Another good example is the Tieto Experience Hub, which enables us to bring together a variety of customers, partners and mindsets. Every sector is in the midst of change and the recipe for success is no longer to be found within small circles of contacts. Companies must be brave enough to collide and interact with each other, and address different subjects and problems. It is my view that the future of retail will not be found by encouraging retailers to talk amongst themselves, but instead making them collide and innovate for example with media houses. Read more about Tieto Experience Hub, innovation and transparency written by my colleague Katarina Segerståhl here.

3. Make digitalisation tangible

People are talking about digitalisation again – the good sides and the threats. In my opinion, the debate focuses on matters that are too abstract and I have noticed that several customers are tired of continuously hearing about a subject that they cannot get grips with.

Uber, Spotify, Kutsuplus and many others are good examples of how new business models can be created and put into practice. Who wouldn't want to invent the next Uber? When trends (such as technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour) are combined with customer challenges, and when innovation is added into the mix, the outcome becomes more tangible.

Mikael Aro, the Managing Director of VR, the Finnish railway company, has written about travelling trends in his blog post. WiFi and "infotainment" are revolutionizing traditional logistics business opportunities. Creativity is the only limiting factor in the search for ways to make passengers' journeys more enjoyable. Another good example may be the way in which gamification could promote the use of occupational well-being services provided by pension companies.

In conclusion: Treat your customers as individuals. Innovate together in unlikely combinations of organizations, individuals or companies. Decide on the tangible opportunities that your business could obtain from digitalisation. This will give you a good head start.

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