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‘‘Next Gen’’ Customers need Next-Gen Solutions

This post first appeared in Outlook Money (March 2021)

No, this is not an article on Covid19, or on the importance of planning your finances to meet unplanned contingencies – enough and more has been written on that subject already. Instead, it is an attempt to articulate what ‘Next Gen’ customers are looking for, and how those needs can be met with a new-age mindset.

Some of you may belong to categories we commonly refer to as “young millennials” or “digital natives” or “Gen Y”, while others may struggle to get a peek into their behaviour. Yes, there are many differences among them, and these labels don’t always mean the same thing. But, when it comes to the modern-day Customer, there are some behavioural insights that cut across these differences.

What ‘‘Next Gen’’ Customers Want

Customers all over the world are embracing the abundance of Technology that now comes embedded in most platforms, products and services. And, that is even more true for those we think of as the “Next Gen’’ tribe…

  • They want lesser clicks, faster page loads, shorter queues, reduced turnaround times, smaller forms
  • They want more and more to happen via Digital channels, so they can access these services on-the-go
  • They want more self-service options (Starbucks?), and want less IVRS interactions (Your call is important to us?!)
  • They want their interactions with brands to be relevant, useful and enjoyable
  • And, thanks to online forums, reviews, ratings, and Social Media exchanges, they probably know more about the product or service (before purchase) than even the sales agents do!

‘‘Next Gen’’ Solutions…

Most of us know that it takes much more effort to acquire a new customer, than it does to retain one. Yet, organizations are usually focused on “new business”, often pouring considerable resources into a leaking funnel.

‘Next Gen’ organizations, however, work on what really matters…

It all starts with a clear idea of who the customer is, and what it means to engage with them, in a meaningful manner.

‘Next Gen’ organizations establish mechanisms to listen to their customers – not just through annual surveys, but on an ongoing basis. They understand their “tribe”, and their needs and wants. Then, they work on creating relevant products and services, making the trade-offs that matter. They know that competition does not matter, only customers do.

Significant sums are spent worldwide on focused groups and the measurement of metrics like C-SAT & NPS. But, great Customer Experience is built on a foundation of consistent Service Delivery, not just found in pockets of excellence.

‘Next Gen’ organizations know that back office, middle office, front office – all matter when it comes to ‘moments of truth’. They pay attention to their employees, empower them, and then build robust processes with their help.

In the quest to provide more bells & whistles, or more personalization, businesses sometimes can lose sight of the fundamentals. Sadly, more does not always mean better.

‘Next Gen’ organizations see Technology as a means to an end, not an end in itself. If their customers seek (Technology-led) convenience and self-service, they are given that option. If they find it daunting, then it is dialled-back.

‘Next Gen’ organizations aim for a consistent experience across channels – after all, their customers expect them to do so! They try to understand every channel that their customers interact with, and strive to provide an amazing experience on each medium.

Finally, ‘Next Gen’ organizations don’t have mobile customers and desktop customers – they only have customers. They connect the dots – across devices, channels and teams. They nix silos and unite incentives, so that their customers can experience the brand in a unified, engaging manner.

The Changing Landscape

Today, customers are voting with their thumbs! Access to low-cost Internet is no longer a problem, attention spans are at an all-time low, and choices are aplenty.

The lines have also started to blur: More and more customers can now experience world-class design, and already compare their banking apps with their ride-sharing ones. The good news is that organizations across industries have started to acknowledge the gaps, and have also begun bridging them.

In the context of Financial Services, some of the recent examples of taking a customer-centric approach includes the introduction of Video-based Medical Evaluations, and interactive chatbots that can peer into structured & unstructured data to answer most of your questions, thereby eliminating wait-times and reducing physical inconveniences.

As Walt Disney once said, “Do what you do so well, that they will want to see it again, and bring their friends.” And, the truth is, unless businesses align with the needs and wants of their core customers, the alternatives are only a swipe away.

This post first appeared in Outlook Money (March 2021)