Customer Expectations in 2015: Use Context

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As part of an ongoing series, Rosetta asked its top thought leaders about what customers expect from brands in 2015 and how those expectations have changed. In this second installment, our executives discuss the need to provide a customized experience based on deep knowledge of the customer and the context in which they are connecting with you.

Joe Lozito, Chief Technology Officer

Customers expect brands to be like their own personal concierge. It’s not about “advertising to people” or being intrusive or disruptive (that’s the last thing you want to do—and the quickest way to lose someone). Customers expect brands to be there when (and where) they need them—even before they know they need them—with value.

“If you’re not there, your customer will move on to the brand that is.”

 

— Joe Lozito, Chief Technology Officer

We think of it like the Precogs in “Minority Report”. Great brands should be predictive of customer behavior and be there when and where the customers need them and be ready to go instantly—and that means across any platform/screen. If you’re not there, your customer will move on to the brand that is.

Jason Tabeling, Senior Vice President, Paid, Owned & Earned Media

The biggest shift we have seen in the past year have been in content and context. Content has always existed and over the past few years content marketing has become a buzzword. The change here is that customers expect actual value from content, not just a direct marketing push. Brands are now putting together content that consumers extract value from, such as Lowe’s Fix in Six campaign on Vine. This campaign uses Vine’s six-second stop motion video platform to educate consumers on how to life hack various home improvements. There are countless examples across platforms of brands stepping up their content, but here is where context steps in and really changes the game.

Brands now have more access to a user’s context than ever before. Here, context refers to a known data point that informs the experience a consumer is having. For example context clues include device, time of day, weather, geo-location, social network, browsing behavior, etc. In the past, before all these context clues were available, brands would create a campaign and plaster that content anywhere they were marketing. Now brands have the luxury of understanding a user’s context and create specific content for that experience. A great recent example is the GEICO ads that were created specifically for YouTube’s pre-roll format. GEICO created not only great content, but created it specifically for the context the consumer would be viewing it. Another great example is Google Now, which takes a consumer’s information via email or GPS and provides predictive information about traffic patterns, flight information, or even when your Amazon shipment is arriving. This is a great use of context to drive content.

Consumers increasingly expect brands to understand their environment and usage patterns to provide them with valuable content.

 

— Jason Tabeling, SVP, Paid, Owned & Earned Media

Consumers increasingly expect brands to understand their environment and usage patterns to provide them valuable content. If a consumer has your brand’s app downloaded already why not deep link them into the app via your search ad, versus generically asking consumers to download your app? If you know a consumer is on a mobile phone and two miles from your store your content should convey new inventory items and directions to your location. These changes are being driven by consumers, but also the technology and data that is available to brands. I encourage everyone to experience your own brand through the experiences consumers actually have. Try out your own advertising. Does it drive value while understanding both content and context?

Shawn Cornelius, Senior Vice President, Technology

Some customer expectations remain timeless.  Customers still expect brands to recognize them, be easy to do business with, and provide good value.  What’s changed, in particular over the past 12 months, is the magnitude of these expectations.  Driven by the exponential advances in technology, and the ever-expanding set of value-added services from customer-obsessed retailers, companies are struggling to keep up with growing expectations.

It’s not good enough anymore for customers to simply be recognized when they log onto the website.  Customers now expect that brands are able to recognize them across any and all channels and touch points; that this recognition includes utilization of all of their available customer data; and that brands are able to anticipate their needs.  In the mind of the customer, they believe, “if you know what I already bought in the brick-and-mortar store last week, why would you offer me the same products on your website and in an email?  Shouldn’t you know what I’m thinking of buying next, and offer me that? Also, I complained to you on Twitter about the quality of that other product, but you keep pushing the product on me. Don’t you guys talk to each other?”

Customers are also redefining “good value” in their brand interactions.  They expect more information, with more accuracy and more precision, regarding inventory, delivery dates, reviews, and product specs.  They expect richer content that both entertains and informs.  And they expect that the functionality of the most leading-edge or customer-centric online retailers, like Amazon or Zappos, should apply to every online and customer service experience.

This is the age of customer empowerment. Not only is the bar being raised around customer expectations, it is being raised at an accelerating rate.

 

— Shawn Cornelius, SVP, Technology

This is the age of customer empowerment.  Not only is the bar being raised around customer expectations, it is being raised at an accelerating rate.


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