The future of emotional intelligence is the ability of organizations to sift through all the data they accumulate on people, and parse the bits of information that help them improve business decisions that also help their customers. Emotion contains a treasure trove of intelligence about future intent — one product or service misstep can make a big difference.
As customers, we want consistency, peace of mind, and reliability — these are table stakes. But in a world that gives us more options, yet less time, the winning strategies will literally depend on individual preferences. Expectations for 1:1 interaction, problem solving, and proactive service have never been higher… yet the gap between experience and reality at individual level has widened.
The trends have been clearly moving in the direction of saving time and energy. In 2017, TrendWatching summarized three ways to save attention:
1. Taking on more of the thinking
Using relevant data and intelligence to recommend (or make) decisions for people.
Does it work? In the hardware and software world, the effort to hide complexity behind simplicity is colliding with the pressure to accelerate planned obsolescence of devices. The result can be a mixed bag, with customers needing more and not less hand holding and hardware/software needing more thoughtful execution to avoid unintended consequences of updates.
Technology is increasingly taking over our lives, and any misstep creates a series of dominoes that are hard to predict globally — because we all use it differently, even when companies try to control the system things do break and suck up energy to trouble shoot. Optimization and efficiency can only go so far in this case… and fixing the experience become very expensive long term.
An example: Pirelli uses sensors and a mobile app to track tire data automatically. The Pirelli Connesso system adds smart technology to car tires. Working with various Pirelli tire models, a sensor ts onto tires and connects to a mobile app that displays information such as pressure, temperature, wear and how many miles each tire has covered. The system functions both when the car is being driven or has been parked.
2. Shortening the Customer Journey
Looking for ways to improve the experience at each step, eliminating steps where possible, and thus redefining expectations in the process.
Two things help organizations execute well here, more refined intelligence, and helpful behaviors. In other words, technology that turns data from information and knowledge into wisdom, and wise people with a mandate to do what it takes to delight.
Principles and not strict rules win and help organizations increase loyalty especially when things do not go as planned and something breaks, or circumstances change. Here's how intelligence can help turn exceptions into new ways of operating.
An example: Aviation IT company SITA Lab debuted KATE, an autonomous check-in robot that can move itself around airports. The robot dispenses boarding passes and luggage tags, and was designed to eliminate long check-in lines. KATE analyzes foot tra c and ight information to determine where in the airport it's needed at a given moment, and uses obstacle-avoidance and geolocation technology to get there. KATE also follows the company's 2016 release of Leo, an autonomous baggage robot.
3. Eradicating pain points
Eliminating attention-hogging pain points in customers' lives is the nirvana, something to aspire to, even when they're outside the organization's ‘responsibility.’
A new crop of startups are focusing on old problems that keep nagging at us. The fact that some don't make it should not create complacency on the part of incumbent organizations, because eventually one or two will succeed. Thanks to technology, success can scale quickly today.
Many organizations may be misdirecting energy to fixing problems based on volume rather than intensity, popularity rather than true influence in swaying decisions and preference.
An example: Mexican bank BBVA Bancomer announced customers would be able to use its mobile app without using any of their data allowance. The move is the result of a partnership with Mexican mobile networks Telcel and Movistar. Four million customers across Mexico use BBVA's apps for various banking operations which include BBVA Send, Bancomer Móvil and Wallet.
Saving attention and time are the hallmarks of premium experiences. Life it too short, why waste part of it trying to deal with tone-deaf organizations? In fact, both Forrester and TrendWatching see indications that many will automate certain retail purchases entirely in 2018. TrendWatching calls it A-Commerce.
We have a natural extension of these trends into accepted behavior and new habits.
1. From outsourcing thinking to automated commerce
Forrester says 30 percent of companies will see further declines in customer experience quality and lose a point of growth and intelligent agents will influence 10 percent of purchase decisions. To escape the noise, they predict people representing $24B in purchasing power will automate their transactions.
Some organizations are experimenting with stores that have no staff. Taobao, which is the equivalent of Amazon in China, debuted the Tao Cafe' where people can scan their smartphones to get and pay for their order. HyperCity launched two supermarkets without cashiers in Hyderabad, India. Amazon is experimenting with a similar idea in the U.S.
2. From shortening paths to goal to teaching new skills
Teaching sells has been a mantra for a number of years. But it led to an explosion of things to read, watch, and listen to, leaving us to our own devices for the the critical part, practice.
TrendWatching calls it assisted development, “the answer lies in the news ways of living that millions of consumers are now deeply immersed in: think digital superpowers, the sharing economy, co-working spaces, on-demand lifestyles and more.”
Physical locations and stores can help with practice, and to build community around shared interests. Eatalay is an example of a marketplace that include cooking lessons, opportunities to taste foods and wines, with the shopping experience.
3. From eliminating pain to forgiving by design
We've all experienced post-purchase angst for the choices we made. Taking the pain away from returning a purchase is a good step, but the opportunity is in helping replace the item with a color, size, model that suits us better. TrendWatching says post-purchase forgiveness is 2018’s must-have feature.
According to Accenture, 78 percent of consumers say they retract loyalty faster today than they did just three years ago. Adapting to customer needs and improving the experience is the new method for taking the pain away, preemptively.
Technology changes us in unexpected ways, it changes how we perceive the world. It has reset expectations of products and services, and also reset us to refocus more of our precious time on superior experiences. Thanks to technology and connectivity, the cracks are more visible.
Culture, which influences how we make decisions, is also shifting in a new direction. Bullying, short term thinking, and control are becoming increasingly unforgiving for organizations, creating a halo of anger and regret in their wake. Instead, purpose and meaning have become even more attractive.
We're getting to more intelligence in machines, expect more humanity in people.