The Post-Digital Age: Spending Quality Time With Customers

Stephane Martin

The central idea of “post-digital” is that digital technology is being embedded so deeply in everything – work, play, industry, day-to-day life – that it’s becoming almost invisible. We stop seeing it. And we stop thinking of it as something special or interesting. It’s just a baseline we expect every product or service to meet, as Accenture’s Technology Vision for SAP Solutions 2019 explores.

One of the places where I think this is having the biggest impact is in the way brands and customers relate to each other. In the post-digital world, it’s about bringing all the data together to create strong emotional experiences and support deeper, closer, higher-quality, and more valuable relationships.

From the head to the heart

For years, we’ve all been talking about knowing the customer better, developing a 360-degree view of who they are, what they’ve bought in the past, and what they might want to buy in the future. Some have gone further and started looking at external data sources like social media to understand their customers a little better.

These are all important and necessary steps. But as we move into the post-digital world, all they do is buy you a seat at the table. To really differentiate your brand and win over customers, you now need to go much further.

You need to build an individual, personal relationship with each customer that doesn’t just pay lip service to their unique digital identity, but responds to it consistently and meaningfully when it really matters.

To do that, you have to truly understand who that person is and what drives them on an emotional level. And traditional KPI-driven analytics simply can’t deliver that level of sophistication. Instead, you need a much more holistic approach that analyzes the entirety of the customer’s digital footprint and how it evolves over time.

This is where your company can really benefit from combining operational data with experience data from multiple sources and channels using experience management software. This combination allows you to better “sense” your customers and respond in real time.

Building a “living” brand

When you can do that, you can start making real headway in post-digital customer relationships. One of the stories I like to share that illustrates what’s possible is about a young lingerie business based in France.

This business started small, playing up its local manufacturing credentials and using analytics and digital tech together with smart and humorous advertising to quickly build up a sizeable customer base.

So far, so digital. But it’s what it did next that really highlights its post-digital mentality. The company has developed a deep relationship with its customers, bringing them into the heart of the business, allowing them to devise and advise on marketing campaigns and testing new product and service ideas with them through the customer ecosystem.

By building this closely knit community, this brand is redefining customer loyalty for the post-digital age. It recognizes that customers aren’t really loyal to brands anymore; they’re loyal to experience. They know customers want to be intimately involved in developing products that they really care about. And they see that experiences are now just as important because they speak to the heart as well as the mind.

Connected, post-digital commerce

So, yes, you need a website that’s easy to navigate and looks great. You need omnichannel sales and distribution. You need to be able to support post-sale services. And you need to use an integrated platform to bring all these capabilities together and tie them into the enterprise core.

But to be truly post-digital, you also need to create experiences around your products that genuinely reflect the emotional needs of your customers and can adapt and respond to changes in those needs in a much more agile and effective way. That’s where experience management solutions are essential.

Other post-digital technologies like artificial intelligence are just as important. AI means companies can automate some aspects of customer service, offering fast and friction-free interactions through chatbots. It can also be used to design more effective customer portals and support smarter post-sales interactions with predictive analytics.

Every moment matters

A key point to remember in all this: Never underestimate the value of any customer interaction, no matter how incidental or even difficult it may be. These are all opportunities to build the relationship further.

Equipped with the right tools, the right data insights, and enough time, customer service agents, support technicians, and any other employees in direct contact with customers can relate to each customer on a more personal level. They can understand what the customer really wants and needs in that situation, deepen the connection, and ultimately increase the value to the business.

So that’s why genuine personalization is so important to customer experience in the post-digital age.

This article originally appeared on the Accenture Technology Innovation blog and is republished permission. Accenture is an SAP global partner.

Stephane Martin

About Stephane Martin

Stéphane Martin is a managing director at Accenture and SAP technology domain global lead. He has more than 15 years of experience in SAP technology as a technical architect working on cross-industry, big transformation programs, including SI/IT department reorganization.