sales and marketing alignment

5 Examples of Connected Customer Experiences That Work

What are connected customer experiences? These are customer journeys that run across company boundaries, and are not limited to the traditional way of creating interactions with our own company’s channels. The focus needs to be on customers’ broader aspirations – what “they” want, and what they are NOT getting. So these experiences are developed with an outside-in approach.

Here are 5 simple but amazing examples of connected customer experiences (there are others but I just picked five to keep this post brief). These are across multiple businesses (some old and some new). Hope they get your creative juices flowing because the opportunities are plentiful. When you’re done reading, apply the concepts to your own customer engagement approach.

HorizonbFit469496165_6401. Your fitness and insurance:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ partnered with Lifetime fitness to make it easier for customers to quantify their fitness in terms of actual dollars. The end result was that customers who exercised paid less for insurance. A win-win arrangement! Delivering this experience to customers couldn’t have been easy. But they doubled down on what the customer wants to create a mutually rewarding proposition. Similar plans are offered by most insurance companies now. All that’s needed (yes, its old school in 2019) is a mobile app that tracks steps and location using GPS and pre-approved locations. Such collaboration between two organizations is now a breeze. It can be delivered easily using DLT / blockchain that enable common but privacy preserving business processes. And when that happens, it will allow other industries to join the party as well – food, recreation etc.

wellsfargo-xero2. Banking that makes your taxes easy

Wells Fargo was one of the first banks to use APIs and partner with Xero, an accounting software. Ever had trouble pulling in your account statements while doing your taxes? This mutually rewarding business relationship puts an end to that by putting customers first. There’s a lot more that can be done here but it’s a nice start. In fact, the open banking phenomenon is sweeping throughout the industry – the UK has even actually mandated it. As the thinking evolves, expect amazing customer experiences and journeys to surface. The key to success here will be to go beyond exposing and monetizing banking data. Think of the customer instead and create experiences that are 2-way in nature. And as this opens up, an ecosystem of financial well-being can be created.

alphabank3. Health is wealth, literally

Speaking of open banking, this Russian bank launched a program that gives you more savings when you do things that are good for you, such as being more active. Its a win win. You get to exercise and become wealthier, while the bank enjoys higher account balances. In fact, FitnessBank in the US launched with exactly the same premise, while Emirates NBD was another bank to do it. The important thing to keep in mind is the concept of customer focus. Whether fitness will be a driving factor for banking strategy is a moot point because everything else is a commodity anyway. The sky is the limit for your imagination here – we can even connect this with the health insurance ecosystem. While currently both banks and customers have to go through multiple hoops to make this data transfer happen, new technology will make it much easier for this collaboration to be seamless with rewards coming not only from banks but from many other types of companies. Icing on the cake – customers can finally monetize their data!

bn-starbucks4. Coffee while you shop

This one is a pleasant blast from the past. If we can’t find the time anymore to take a break and enjoy the wonderful environment at Barnes & Noble, the thought of a free Starbucks coffee with the new BN membership card might make it easier. The book collection is amazing as always, and the toys section is a bonus for the entire family (much needed now that ToysRUs is out),. All we need now is a resurgence of online content, focus on local community, more partnerships for media and retail, and a website that can hold its own again the ecosystem that is Amazon Prime.

travel-experiences5. Travel for experiences, not just destinations

Gone are the days when we launched our vacation and had to plan everything to the last detail. Now curated and deeply immersive experiences are being offered by hotels in partnership with locals around the world. Amazing as it is, presently this is not much different from just offers on a marketplace with big brands acting as channels for local entrepreneurs. However, technology will soon make it much easier to share information privately and securely thus making the customer experiences even more immersive. There’s no reason that a bunch of businesses cannot work together with the customer during every phase of their travel journey.

These examples are from different time eras to show that customers are always waiting for you to innovate. And like most big shifts in business you’ll have to look outside-in at your business, or just look at what new entrants and your competition are doing to shake it up.

I refer to these ecosystems of independent companies as digital conglomerates of the future. Good news is that technology is finally here to help you develop these connected customer experiences with much less pain than was possible till even a few years ago. The current model of affiliate like one-off programs promises to be much more integrated. For example, combining both APIs and DLT/blockchain (DLT = Distributed Ledger Technology), business can share data without sacrificing customer privacy and confidentiality – imagine a business process that runs across businesses!

To make all this happen, we’ll need to step out of our traditional identities. And the current model of point based loyalty programs should be upgraded to loyalty based on experiences and aspirations.

That’s where the economy is headed now. So it is important to not lose sight of connected customer experiences in our digital roadmap.

Your thoughts are welcome. Please share them here or on Twitter by tagging me @manishgrover.

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