Something struck me the other day… customers are moving faster than brands when it comes to the adoption of new technology. Some people may see this as a problem, but I see it is a huge opportunity.
Today I will put 3 technologies under the microscope (or should I say ‘Dynamic Imaging System’ – as used by Biologists in the College of Science at the University of Idaho).
iBeacons – iNsight or iNtrusion?
What is an iBeacon? An iBeacon is a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby mobiles of their presence to serve consumers with information - usually through a dedicated app.
The problem is brands are doing what brands do… using them to push offers (sometimes not even relevant ones) at consumers. Marketing always comes first when new technology is involved as companies have a short-term, revenue focussed view, when in fact they need to build trust first by offering consumers something of value.
American Airlines are taking a different approach by using iBeacons to offer their customers an enhanced experience through convenient information such as directions, real-time departure times and translations tools for non-native passengers.
What about asking customers what they want? Imagine iBeacons being used to capture insight at a Moment of Truth, when a customer has just left a brands’ location. This insight could then be used to improve experience and serve customers with the information they want. I would challenge brands to take this long-term approach – ultimately it will differentiate them from their competitors and build advocacy.
Augmented Reality – Utopia or Reality Bites?
Another technology that intrigues and excites me is augmented reality… AR takes a person’s real-world view and overlays it (through mobile devices) with images, video or audio to create an enhanced experience through an interactive environment.
Image Source: Microsoft. (Hololens launched to lots of excitement)
The most well publicised use of augmented reality was through Google Glasses. Although this didn’t go at all according to plan with Google calling time on the device (for now at least): http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jan/15/google-glass-ceases-production-for-now
IKEA has used AR in their 2014 catalogue app, which allows customers to experience how a furniture will look inside their house without ever visiting a store.
When it comes to Customer Experience, I believe Augmented Reality has a key part to play. Imagine allowing customers to see reviews of the best restaurants while walking down a street simply by holding up their mobile phone? What about giving customers the ability to leave a video testimonial following a film screening and then using the positive ones in your advertising campaigns? The possibilities are endless.
Near Field Communication – Field of dreams or near miss?
Near Field Communication (NFC) allows enabled devices to communicate with one another through touch or close proximity. Of all the technologies I have discussed, this one is currently the most widely used with most payment cards now enabled.
“The massive potential of NFC combined with the proliferation of the Internet of Things creates significant opportunities for customers.”- Brian Bedrosian, Broadcom Senior Director
NFC’s popularity is only set to grow with Analyst TechNavio's forecasting that the global market will increase by 50% by 2019 which is conservative if you ask me given Apple’s recent backing of the technology through Apple Pay.
I've already started experimenting with NFC and last month I created a prototype by programming a NFC chip with a web address that re-direct users, upon tapping their phone against the chip, to a mobile optimised webpage. The user can then leave instant feedback on their experience in an easy and convenient way. Eventually I see this type of technology being used in a retail environment to capture Moment of Truth Insight, whether or not a purchase has been made.
One of the things I fundamentally believe in is that technology is only as good as the ideas used to execute it. With this in mind, I hope I have given you a few ideas that have helped you to come up with a few of your own.
What technology do you think could shape customer experience?
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