Rachel Eisenhauer Tue Jul 10, 2012

We recently attended the Forrester Customer Experience Forum and learned that we are currently in the “Age of the Customer.” Successfully engaging with empowered customers is what defines this current state, and those companies that are engaging now will come out on top, no matter the industry.

But who is this empowered customer? The 45 year old dad browsing on his iPad, the 25 year old sitting at her laptop at the office all day, or the high school kid on his mobile device during class? In fact, they all are.
Today’s new customer is connected, content-centric, constantly communicating, and always clicking, coined by the industry as generation C. These connected customers are digital natives and multi-taskers existing on multiple screens. They are empowered by information and research. They have educated themselves on the best products at the best prices and best stores. While Nielsen defines this customer in the 18-34 year age group, others believe it can span any age bracket if the customer has adopted the gen C behaviors into his daily life.

A key characteristic of generation C is the preference of ease and convenience over reliability and safety. Nielsen recently reported on consumer shopping sentiment and how in-store, online and mobile purchases compared to each other. Online purchases faired as the easiest, most convenient and overall favorite shopping channel, even though traditional in-store purchases won highest marks for most reliable and safest.

So now that we know who the new customer is (and I bet you are one of them), how are brands reacting and engaging with this generation?

The generation of connected companies

Generation C is all about connecting, so it is necessary for brands to connect to customers, across all channels simultaneously. It is key to understand your customers’ behaviors, preferences, likes and dislikes, and then share targeted opportunities with them you know they’ll engage with based on their past transactions. If you are not delivering an incredible customer experience, you’re giving an opportunity to consumers to be disloyal, and they will socialize that disloyalty within their networks.

Apple, Macy’s and Office Depot are a few retailers that have taught us that customer experience is king. Apple’s simple packaging, friendly interface and informative retail stores gives customers a delightful, welcoming and educational experience. Steve Jobs pioneered the customer experience back in the late 90s: “ You’ve gotta start with the customer experience, and work backwards to the technology… It started with ‘What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer?’”

Fast forward 15 years and take it a step further: deliver personalized engagement to the customer for an elevated experience. The Age of the Customer has proven that shoppers are educated and empowered, so personalization is required in the way brands engage with their customers.

So where can you take your customer? How can you connect with gen C and leverage their individual preferences and behaviors to deliver a compelling and engaging experience? What other brands are delivering superior experiences to today’s connected customer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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