At the recent EDGE Alumni breakfast, hosted by ARN, the leading voice in customer centricity and digital transformation, Nancy Rademaker, spoke about how the changing profile of consumers – their changing tastes, behaviours and attitudes – is disrupting incumbent businesses.
“Customer characteristics have changed,” Rademaker said, as she outlined the acronym C.U.S.T.O.M.E.R, which highlights eight shifts in consumer perception and behaviour that businesses need to adapt to in order to retain their competitive edge.
“E” is for ethical
Ethics are more important to customers than ever before, she said, and the expectations of how a company will behave, and the information that it provides to its customers, has shifted towards a fixation on transparency and accountability.
“We’ve moved from companies being a black box to a glass box,” Rademaker said. “People can now see through it and see everything about your company. The company and its practices are now its brand.”
Part of what enables customers to be more ethical is technology, especially social media. With the ability to communicate with other brand users more effectively and globally, customers are now effectively a network of company watchdogs. If a company isn’t fully transparent with its customers – for example, if a company isn’t completely transparent with its fee structure and tries to “cover up” any of its practices – it will suffer the consequences.
The ethics of customers is also going to affect technology use within companies, Rademaker said. A good example is blockchain. Originally developed for the purposes of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, blockchain represents a new opportunity for organisations to meet the demands of the ethical customer. It allows them to minimise the risk of fraud and simplify the logistics of interacting with customers.
Blockchains are sequences of data that are managed by a decentralised network of computers rather than a single computer. What makes blockchain appealing is the data that is housed on the network is timestamped and can’t be altered. Blockchains are tamper-proof.
For the channel, blockchain is an opportunity to streamline the provision of services from vendors to customers.
Stay tuned as we move to the final letter in C.U.S.T.O.M.E.R, and get radical.