The Deep Human Need That Can Make Or Break A Customer Experience

Shelly Dutton

Bombarded with endless product options and relentless advertising, your customers always have a compelling reason to buy anything. But moving them to swipe, tap, and click on your products or to drive to your closest store location goes far beyond the lowest price, deepest discounts, shopping convenience, and delivery speed.

According to the SAP Center for Business Insight, the complexities, pace, and interconnectedness of modern life are driving people to seek meaning in their spending power. Its report, “The Future Customer Experience: Five Essential Trends,” states “Fully two-thirds of consumers say that they will support companies that they believe make a positive difference in society. And a growing number of consumers are punishing companies whose values they disagree with.”

Thanks to social media, connected technology, and widespread Internet access, customers now have a platform to gather information on a brand’s business practices and mission – from hiring and workforce culture to supply chain integrity, environmental sustainability, product safety, and social responsibility. This global connection of consciousness is encouraging customers to voice their position on global issues such as climate change, violence, and human rights through their purchase decisions.

Deliver a brand worth trusting in a world searching for purpose

How can your business leverage this expanding digital transparency to earn your customers’ trust? The SAP Center for Business Insight report cites three fundamental steps that can help.

1. Create meaning that aligns with your brand and your customers

Businesses that don’t already offer a meaningful element to the customer experience, as well as their products and services, are often pushed to the bottom of a customer’s list of go-to brands. To stay competitive, it is critical for companies to connect everything they do and offer to a purpose their customers value – and protect it as their differentiating advantage.

Emerging technologies – such as artificial intelligence and machine learning – can expand the boundaries of the experience or enter their products or services into another market that best aligns with the brand’s purpose.

2. Curate the customer experience, don’t control it

From digital assistant devices to mobile apps, customers have a tremendous ability to jump in and out of the buying journey – through any channel, at any time, and in any place. And for the brands trying to grab shoppers’ attention, owning the entire customer experience is an impossible feat.

By filtering everything that detracts the most meaningful elements of a customer experience, you can pull together the best, most relevant content or offerings automatically. This approach can be done through a subscription package or a site personalized based a profile completed by the customer.

3. Provide a platform to create – and demonstrate – meaning

Technology platforms can help businesses add meaningful touches to the customer experience with relatively little cost. Developers can create apps that connect customers to a community of like-minded shoppers to, for example, benchmark their personal progress, crowdsource recommendations and experiences, map the most-efficient routes, and engage in competition.

Enter the era of the purpose-driven customer experience

Increasingly, customers are separating aspects of the customer experience that are routine from those that have meaning. Where quality and cost were once the sole considerations, buying decisions are also based on whether the brand thinks and acts like the consumer and values the same code of morality.

Clearly, the stakes in earning such customer trust are increasingly high for companies. A good reputation may get customers to try a product, but when the company behind the product does not deliver on its promises, customer engagement and loyalty erodes – no matter how good the product.

SAP worked with more than a dozen industry experts to uncover five trends that will determine the customer experience over the next decade. Examine each of these trends and explore recommendations for how your brands should respond now to prepare by reading the SAP Center for Business Insight report “The Future Customer Experience: 5 Essential Trends.”