How “Super Humans” Are Transforming the Digital Customer Journey

OPINION

By Jaimy Szymanski, industry analyst and founding partner, Kaleido Insights


When internet-connected products, services, and networks combine with powerfully tech-savvy consumers, the customer journey is disrupted to the point of unrecognition.

Imagine this: your connected “smart” refrigerator can sense when you’re almost out of strawberries, using internal sensors. As soon as it senses this, it communicates with a grocery delivery app to add strawberries to your weekly shopping list. Once your shopping list hits a certain threshold of price, products or timeline, the app connects to your credit card to order your groceries — which are then delivered same-day.

This scenario isn’t fantasy; it’s a real implementation among MasterCard, Samsung, and FreshDirect. Connected products communicate — without the need for human interjection and all the while knowing their owner’s preferences — to execute tasks. The traditional awareness and consideration steps of the beloved marketing funnel have gone missing.

Humans have a history of using technology to fulfill their needs more efficiently and improve their lives. Recent integrations among smart products, mobile technologies, and artificial intelligence have further accelerated the pace of customer evolution in both behavior and expectations. These advancements have given rise to the age of the “Super Human” who simply doesn’t care about your customer journey map.

Super Humans leverage mobile, wearables, chat bots, smart products, mixed reality, and voice technology to enable characteristics that rival the stars of Marvel comic books. We can expect tomorrow’s Super Humans to literally see through walls, prolong their lives by modifying their bodies, and creating everlasting legacies through virtual avatars that live on long after they’ve left the earth.

Super Humans have different expectations than their mere mortal counterparts. Corporate leaders must understand how the proliferation and democratization of technology has changed expectations and behaviors, as well as the accompanying digital purchase and marketing funnels. What is the new definition of value for your Super Human consumer?

Super Humans Revel in Convenience and Choice, Using Their “Bionic Brains” to Summon Information On-Demand

Super Humans get their information in new, evolved ways. They are accustomed to unlimited, on-demand information, accessible with the tap of an app. Using smartphones, wearables, hearables and voice-controlled devices, they’re able to quickly get answers. They’re faster than the companies they interface with, and, as a result, have increasingly unrealistic expectations for brands to meet their needs in real time. As a result, organizations are prioritizing new internal models for innovation, breaking down silos, and harnessing the power of data across departments in order to act more nimbly.

As a result of their bionic brains (aided by artificial intelligence and deep machine learning algorithms) among other “super powers,” Super Humans effectively disrupt every stage of the customer journey in their unlimited access to information.

How Super Humans Shop, Purchase and Repurchase

Super Humans don’t just shop on their laptops. They are on mobile, shopping via chat, and soon via AR or automated drone delivery. If they have questions, they expect immediate answers, and they don’t care if humans or chat bots are supplying them. If they want to try something before they buy, they are increasingly expecting AR/VR experiences to make something like the test drive or the dressing room obsolete.

Consider e-commerce retailer, Spring. It offers customers an online shopping assistant in Facebook Messenger, powered by the social platform’s send/receive API. Customers can cycle through a series of conversation-based questions that take them through product categories, specific product choices and pre-determined price ranges. Eventually, Spring presents a series of three to five products for purchase and redirects to an e-commerce engine for checkout. The customer’s receipt is promptly delivered via Messenger before the bot bids adieu.

Future Super Humans won’t care if their transaction is led by a robotic sales associate so long as they find what they want, and the experience is efficient, respectful and enjoyable.

Or look at China’s largest online grocery store, Yihaodian. It built over 1,000 virtual shops in public places, offering augmented reality shopping experiences on mobile devices. Customers who downloaded Yihaodian’s app could browse and shop in these virtual stores. Once goods were purchased, they were directly delivered to customer homes. Through its virtual, on-demand storefronts, Yihaodian set a Guinness World record by selling 2 million boxes of milk in less than an hour.

Meeting Super Human Expectations Requires Data Savvy and Fluid Organizational Structure

In order to personalize customer experiences, corporations need to collect and make use of data. Data is the price Super Humans pay for hyper-personalization. While companies have to take data privacy and transparency seriously, Super Humans are likely to be more comfortable forking over data in exchange for something of value, such as more relevancy, better discounts or improved security.

Traditional companies are changing their DNA by becoming digital organizations, enabling an internal culture of change, then bridging with their direct ecosystem to sustain long-term innovation — in customer experience design and beyond. Essentially, they’re shifting from rigidity to fluidity to survive, catalyzed by Super Humans’ evolving expectations.

Jaimy’s Bio
Jaimy Szymanski is a research analyst, author, speaker and advisor, focused on organizational change brought by digital disruption. Zeroing in on the impact of technology on customer experience (CX) and behavior, Jaimy advises corporate leaders and change agents in managing digital transformation and innovation efforts to reach evolving consumers and employees.
Her research has been covered by USA Today, Mashable, Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post and more. Jaimy is the co-author of Content: The Atomic Particle of Marketing and a contributing author to Ogilvy on Advertising in the Digital Age (January 2018 release). She also provides regular research on corporate innovation to the Crowd Companies council.
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