As marketers, we always seek to understand our customers’ behavior, but maybe we should seek to understand ourselves a little better as people, too. We are a positive and decisive bunch, that’s for sure. We seek clarity, certainty, and predictability: we share a desperation for black and white, in a world of grey ambiguity.
With this in mind, we put our heads together at Relay42 across different teams, to discuss a couple of questions critical to the world of marketing technology. How is customer value changing, what shape is it taking, and how can businesses consistently and effectively deliver more of it?
Discussion contributors: Julius Abensur - Industry Director - Finance | Vaiva Rivas - UX Designer | Bas Klomp - Omnichannel Strategist | Sophie Kraanen - Culture Specialist | Matilda Kristoffersson - Lead Solutions Consultant | Alex Durham - Content Strategist
We took a look at ‘the thirty elements of value, a hierarchy’ proposed by Eric Almquist, John Senior and Nicolas Bloch (and you should too). By exploring this nuanced upgrade of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how brands can make basic functional elements such as ‘reduces risk’ dance with more emotional values like ‘self-actualization’, we began to break down their orchestration, by considering the impact of technology. How are these interplays engineered?
It became clear that brands needed to climb and conquer the value pyramid, to own a clutch of these elements across both the foundational (functional) and higher (emotional) levels. But rising to attain the more transcendent spheres of customer value should not mean allowing more functional facets to collapse. Take Airbnb for example: building a sharing economy empire which supports values like trust and comfort, means a support system made up of seamless transactions - like payment, and key handover. Any friction in handing over keys to a guest sees trust splitting at the seams, just as failure to pay a host destabilizes the ‘home-from-home’ experience Airbnb sells so well. We can extend these crucial interactions of customer value elements across the digital world, where any bumps in the foundations become all-the-more magnified.
Take IKEA, another shining example of delivering the ideal spread of customer value. They combine tactile, nostalgic experiences like embarking on a warehouse pilgrimage to find the perfect sofa, with simple payment processes and seamless digital recommendations. But the perfect sofa is really a quest for the perfect life - and leafing through your homeware catalogue is only useful if your offline purchases are bridged with your online browsing behavior.
If the sofa you buy in-store follows you around the internet in banners for the next fortnight, IKEA has lost the opportunity to sell you the dream of a matching coffee table and a minimal lifestyle - and you, as the customer, have lost your interest in a brand which can’t match your expectations. A bump in the customer journey, is a gap in the brand story, is a hole in your brand relationship.
What of value can we predict? Professor Philip Tetlock, based at the University of Pennsylvania, famously did a 20-year study of political predictions, and found that on balance, their rate of accuracy was little better than chance. According to Tetlock, there are real limits on how predictable behavior can be. But we can use a variation of the trust equation adapted by Julius to understand how high level groupings of these individual value propositions, relate to one another.
We need a functional safety net - or in this case, layer, to guide us through a number of hyper-relevant, but predetermined paths when climbing through the value pyramid. These smartly matched journeys mean that personalization is scalable for brands: but scalability means automation. To automate, we need to adopt both new mindsets - but also new technologies which helps us to proactively reach across the echelons, and bridge these value components with zero interuptions.
As a central technology in orchestrating journeys, our role is not to deliver on the ‘Self Interest’ side - that is, the values which make people care. Rather, technology can facilitate the functional, foundation levels and consistently deliver seamless footholds on the pyramid; for brands themselves to move independently from function, to outcome, to emotion - through products and services which correlate.
This means that trust needs to be a core undercurrent offered on both the technology side, and embedded by the brand themselves. Technology will connect the dots accordingly, so that brands are empowered to communicate transparently in the best context, engender reliability and familiarity, and alleviate their customers to new levels of self-transcendence.
Then, brands can both preserve the values which they built from the ground up, as well as deliver on newer spheres of value in the future.