After the ClickZ Experience keynote, Brian Solis sat down with Elizabeth Roscoe to discuss Generation-Novel, the cross-generational psychological segment of the post-pandemic customer.The original interview was published in click Z.
As customer needs have changed due to the pandemic, the way marketing to them has to change too
Digital empathy is key to inform marketing decisions
Read on for valuable insights from digital pioneer and bestselling author Brian Solis
Very brands have a style guide, and every CMO has a whole team that operates according to those brand guidelines. While every company is accelerating digital transformation investments to enhance the customer experience, two questions executives need to ask are “how will people and their core values and aspirations change in 2020-2021” and “how will our brands change?” How to represent aspirational things in the new world?”
at a special session in 2021 Click Z to experience, world-renowned digital pioneer and 8x bestselling author Brian Solis Shared his research on how customers change on a human level and how brands must adapt to their core.
Q: How do you see brands changing in a post-pandemic world?
Brian: Customer experience is a top area for brands to transform for the post-pandemic economy. But customer experience itself is a vision and a strategy, and the process of executing against that strategy. Also, digitization at an unprecedented pace that I can’t think of a good way to express this makes us lose sight of the human nature of this opportunity. It’s almost as if we’re trying to move into a new normal or the next normal based on this, this previous normal, this concept of what marketing is, when in reality, marketing could be completely different. Essentially, brands are falling into the trap of digitizing outdated processes and touchpoints, rather than reimagining engagement to deliver experiences that weren’t possible prior to the pandemic.
Q: Who do you think is responsible for customer experience?
Brian: You (the marketer) own the customer experience! You know who doesn’t own customer experience? Anyone who does not touch customers. Yes, I know there are stakeholders who want to have this experience too, but someone has to be the facilitator, someone has to be the leader, and someone has to say this is the experience we aim to deliver, that’s how we’re going to coordinate together to do this.
Q: So does the CMO control the experience?
Brian: In a recent conversation with Seth Godin, I asked him, “In your opinion, who owns the customer experience?” He said, “If it’s not the CMO, then I don’t know what the CMO is doing.” The right message ends it, saying this is your time to lead change. Now is the time to say, ‘Yes, I will blaze a new path, even if that path doesn’t exist now’. In his words, “If you’re not in charge of customer experience, then you’re not a CMO.”
Q: What is digital empathy?
Brian: In a world where we risk losing warmth in a massive, accelerated shift to digital, we cannot over-invest in transactions instead of meaningful engagement and experiences. A powerful opportunity is to embrace a sixth “love language” in marketing and experience design, which I call digital empathy. It is this idea of understanding how numbers themselves communicate differently and understanding how others want to communicate and how they want to participate.
Q: Is digital empathy a way to personalize the experience?
Brian: We all know the golden rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. But I think in a world where we’re accelerating digital experiences and even hybrid experiences, it’s now, or should I say, marketers potentially embrace the golden rule of digital empathy. Treating others the way they want to be treated – this is the foundation of data-driven empathy and true hyper-personalization.
Q: How has the pandemic affected customers?
Brian: What has happened over the past 18+ months is that a new type of customer inspired by the novel coronavirus has formed — a “generation of fiction.” This is a unique cross-generational cohort, both digitally focused and aware of their newfound power. More importantly, they realize that this ctrl-alt-del moment can rediscover what really matters to them in terms of time, experience, and relationships. ‘Novel’ by itself simply means new and unusual. So it’s a man without a script. Customers change and evolve. think about it. You, me, our customers, we all have to learn how to work from home, you have to learn, stay connected, shop differently, everything is at home, and it accelerates this digital transformation…you.
Q: Does this new customer, this new generation, have a different brand loyalty than before?
Brian: Honestly, loyalty can be earned. It came into play immediately after March 2020. The vast majority of customers in every market globally are trying new brands and exhibiting new shopping behaviors. As the situation continues to unfold, without getting to the heart of the “why,” these new campaigns represent the next wave of disruption. It also means that “acquisitions” are new “opportunities” and retention is a priority.
Essentially, Generation-Novel is a more conscious consumer. As I kindly put it, they are accidental or digital narcissists. Everything they do online, their favorite apps, social networks, games, services, reminds them that they are the most important people in the universe. So how to engage, how to design experiences, how to market, how to sell, how to communicate, to drive the next best action or to create content, as now the six love languages, digital empathy must inform and guide our efforts to engage consumers Be the most important person.
Q: How has data changed and how important is it in this new world?
Brian: Now is an opportunity to reimagine how we collect data and how we use it. Most importantly, we must re-establish the social contract with our digital-first customers, the new generation, our more conscious digital narcissists, and proactively communicate how we will use data to deliver more meaningful, personalized experiences to In exchange for data. Look, as we discussed, we know loyalty is up for grabs, but most consumers will spend more time online after the pandemic than they did before. They are willing to share more if they know they will have a better experience. This is important because it means that these behaviors will only continue to unfold and evolve. There are new and evolving engagement criteria. These are ways to learn, forget, and develop stronger relationships.
Q: As marketers, what do we need to do to engage with the new generation? What do they value most?
Brian: The quick answer is that they want you to know them. They value empathy, they value personalization, they value experience. They value it, and in some cases, even more than your products and services. An important question to ask is what is the moment that defines your signature experience? How do customers experience our touchpoints and the entire journey? What elements convey to someone what they are going to remember – good or bad? Where are the weak links in the journey? This is marketing, and this is customer experience. In fact, customer experience is defined as the sum of all customer engagements with your brand. It’s not just one thing, it’s everything. So someone has to be responsible for the whole journey. As Seth Godin said, “Marketing is experience”.
Q: As marketers, where should we focus our efforts?
Brian: The next generation of marketing must reimagine what it means to be a brand in 2030. All this acceleration that happened was essentially 10 years ahead of its time. That means you can’t bring your 2019, 2020, 2021 mindset to this moment. You have to have a 2030 mindset because you are designing for the future now – you are the architect of the future (as a marketer). A brand must make sense in a new world now and in a few years from now.
Q: Any final suggestions?
Brian: It all comes down to being the light at every touchpoint, building trust, aligning with values, adding some oomph to the customer, not just transacting with the customer. The goal is to really understand what’s important to your customers, coordinate cross-functional engagement as part of marketing, and create a consistent customer experience. But more importantly, it’s an opportunity for marketers to design these experiences from a holistic and individual perspective.To do this requires something new, an experience ‘Fashion Guide’ It complements your brand style guide and communicates the experience you want people to have. Captivating experiences are what people remember, and it’s reflected in their expressions of those experiences, and in your products, which together become your brand.