At a recent Comotion breakfast briefing in the Shard, Carol Savage looked at various aspects of how technology was changing brand/customer interactions and was keen to create a discussion about three key questions:

  • How does technology change how customers behave?
  • How does technology change customer expectations?
  • How should companies react?

The audience, consisting of senior marketing and customer leaders from organisations like Lloyds Bank, UBM and Western Union, was asked to consider how things were changing and how they were managing their company’s response to those changes.

You can read the report of the event, and some of the thoughts that came out of it, here. We also went back to the audience to understand how these issues were affecting their own business.

This is a review of their reactions:

Everybody who replied said their business was concerned about how technology was changing customer expectations and the relationship between their brand and the customer.

This topic is clearly high on the corporate agenda (at least of those who attended). There is little doubt that technology is having a substantial impact in customer behaviour and that this is something that all businesses need to consider.

Topics that resonated were varied, but key themes emerged.

Many commented that they didn’t believe the right people were being included in the activity that shaped a response to the challenges posed by technology. Three particular comments stand out:

Corporate led (mainly tech) initiatives generally fail, they need a local thrust

Hearing others speak of organisation siloes and how to overcome them is enormously valuable

Our problem is that we are ‘product led’ design, rather than ‘customer led’

 These capture the common idea that many decisions are being made, and projects led, by people who were not in the right position to understand the customers themselves.

There was a common belief that their businesses were not focused enough on the customer.

Even given that this was a self-selecting audience, it is noticeable that all the people we talked to felt that in some way their own business was not thinking in a customer centric manner.

We experiment but not always with a full understanding of the customer problem.

We’re not really thinking about the customer, instead we’re responding to what we think people want or what competitors are doing.

We focus on the implementation of new tech but don’t always look at it through the customer lens.

When discussing the barriers there was a common view that there was not enough internal understanding or belief that this is an important problem.

A strong theme emerged that progress towards being a truly customer-centric business is often blocked by legacy attitudes within the business.

Peoples’ understanding is a major blocker at the moment, in-so-far as they agree it’s good to be customer first, but feel it’s a front-line issue and don’t really identify with what that means for them in terms top down business transformation.

Short term vision of older, senior stakeholders means they are slow to respond to the technology shifts as they don’t believe it affects their existing client base.

Barriers are internal silos, not being able to move quick enough with the change