Customer experience is the new battlefield for differentiation

  • Posted on February 21, 2017


The following blog post was co-authored by Aaron Reich, Innovation Director and David Rosenthal, Solution Architect at Avanade.

We were recently at the National Retail Federation show in New York. As we spoke with clients and walked the Expo floor with its hundreds of vendors, two things stood out: a cool company called Thursday Finest and the continuing discussion around personalized and immersive experiences.

What we liked about Thursday Finest is their niche around custom manufacturing and being able to break down what is normally a months-long design process to minutes. Thursday Finest isn’t the only company doing this. In our Avanade Retail Innovation Lab we showcased how a retailer could integrate with a startup called Like a Glove. Like a Glove mails you smart leggings that take multiple measurements to find you the best-fitting jeans. Combining this type of technology with Thursday Finest brings together the ultimate customized and personalized experience  [CLICK TO TWEET].

It’s All about Customer Experience

For the past few years in Avanade’s Technology Vision for 2017, we have talked about the personalization trend. We initially predicted that being customer-centric wasn’t good enough – that you needed to be individual-centric, understanding the likes, dislikes, wants, etc. of your customers. That it was imperative to look beyond the general grouping of, say, women ages 30 to 35, but to know Wendy, Katie and Isabel – and all of your customers, regardless of grouping, to differentiate through better experiences.

We are beginning to see this take shape. Start building your Nike shoe online and continue that experience in the store. Hop on the treadmill, Nike will record what you’ve tried on and your gait. You buy an Apple Nike watch and run every day. The information is starting to become available for Nike to provide true personalization. According to AdWeek, 73% of global marketers believe they must deliver personalization to be successful, and 90% of Forbes’ Global 500 executives believe that improving customer experience is key to 2017 strategy.

As part of our Avanade Technology Vision for 2017, we believe that consumer experiences will be shaped through artificial intelligence (AI), creating more meaningful and magical interactions. As our mastery of cloud, big data and mobile continues to converge, AI-driven user interfaces will lead to ever-deeper, more meaningful interactions, sharply tailored to the individual and his or her situation. We call this “situational centricity,” a step further than simply user-centric or individual-centric. In the future, it won’t just feel like personalized service. It will be distinctly human, almost always “invisible” and seem magical.

AI-powered experiences will be something like a “fourth dimension,” sprinkled on top of the existing digital and real-life worlds to add more intelligence, awareness and personalization in every context. This will go beyond responding to your needs intelligently and will be able to predict and deliver differentiated value before you even know you need it.

Experiment with AI-Driven Experiences Today

Soon all major brands will have conversational AI and human-like chatbots to improve sales and customer service. Businesses that are not experimenting and exploring opportunities to deliver these experiences will be out of the picture, similar to not being on mobile today.

In a Venture Beat article, Rob Hinchliffe from TH_NK argues that we need to “design services and products that [consumers] can relate to and learn to love” and stop trying to force every type of person through a personalized experience. We agree. If you are involved in shaping any type of user experience today, we urge you to take an AI approach that will be enriching and memorable.

Learn more by reading our full Avanade Technology Vision 2017.

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