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How do you influence the connected consumer?

| by Elliot Maras
How do you influence the connected consumer?

As digital experiences have become more immersive thanks to emerging technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and enhanced mobile connectivity, developing a successful customer interaction strategy has become more challenging than ever.

Julie Ask, Vice President and
Principal Analyst, Forrester US

The challenge of designing a strategy to interact with the "connected" consumer has become a primary focus of retailers, service providers and brand marketers.

Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester U.S., a research company, attempted to give some clarity to this multifaceted challenge in a presentation, "The Future of Digital Experiences," during the recent Diebold Nixdorf International Management Seminar in Lisbon, Portugal.

Ask's presentation was one of several that addressed ways to embrace the various ecosystems in which today's consumers interact.

Where to begin

The first step is to understand how customers use technology, Ask said. Enterprises need to identify the technologies — be they online or offline — that their customers prefer. She said U.S. consumers on average are connected to 4.5 devices (e.g., laptop, mobile phone, voice assistant), 5.4 platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), and 4.2 channels (e.g., website, chatbot, app, text message).

Additionally, enterprises must understand not only the technologies customers are using, but also the customer's comfort level in using these technologies for different types of tasks.

Commerce represents the most complex task that consumers engage in via digital channels. Where consumption tasks such as listening to music, watching videos or checking account balances are simple, tasks such as researching products, making purchases and making payments take more effort.

"Understanding your customers is a very complex task that you have in front of you today," Ask said.

Ask urged her listeners to use more plain language in their digital experiences. "Think about the language of your customers," she said. She suggested using conversational tones in both voice and text messaging.

Notifications can lead customer interactions

Notifications being used in digital communication are among the most customer friendly digital messages, she said. Because of this, enterprises should use notifications to relate with customers as much as possible. Notifications can become the basis of customer conversations, and they can pull an enterprise forward in meeting consumers' expectations.

By mastering the use of notifications to customers, enterprises will be able to tailor experiences to individual customers rather than offering a "kitchen sink" type of experience that targets everyone, Ask said.

Notifications also give an enterprise the ability to deliver content based on opportune moments as opposed to using a passive approach and waiting for customer to initiate communications.

Conversations initiated by mobile messaging can take place within mobile apps, messaging and chat environments, Ask noted. The conversations can be among humans, between a human and a machine, or a combination of the two.

To use notifications effectively, enterprises must have a way to communicate with customers in their moments of need. Even within a website, messaging channel or app, a customer can use touch, chat or voice to communicate with content.

"You use context to create relevant experiences for your customer," she said.

Echoing other presenters during the conference, Ask emphasized the importance of testing immersive experiences. This is critical given the fact that there is currently too much "cognitive load" for consumers using digital experiences. 

She suggested enterprises use what she called the "Moments Index" to make technology choices.

This index lists four types of media — immersive, voice, chat and touch — and shows how they measure up in terms of awareness, adoption, use, comfort and preference, as these factors relate to four different types of consumer tasks: communication; consumption; control; and commerce. 

Switching her attention to specific technologies, Ask said that augmented reality will likely succeed in the near future since it makes it easy to demonstrate things.

The Moments Index helps businesses choose the right technology
to interact with their customers
. Source: Forrester

In communicating to businesses or consumers, a tablet with AR can show how a product would look in a particular environment. Virtual reality will also be used in business for customer service and employee training, she said.

New technologies can connect consumers more effectively than ever to one another and to the businesses they interact with. Companies that succeed in influencing consumer behavior will be those that know what channels their customers prefer ... and reach them where they are. 

Topics: Associations / Conferences, Networking / Connectivity, Trends / Statistics


Elliot Maras

Elliot Maras is the editor of and

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