If I owned a time machine and could zoom back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, I would love to ask an industrialist to join me at the Forrester CX Europe Conference which took place this week.

There would be a great deal that would bewilder my nineteenth century visitor. Things like individualised services, delivered in real time, on any device, anywhere in the world. Or innovations that make customer transactions faster, easier, and more impressive experiences. Augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and zero failure demand. Wow.

But what is striking is that our industrialist would recognise a theme that featured in every presentation. Something which was as important at the start of the Industrial Revolution as it is today: how we measure the success of a business. In one form or another the conference confirmed that established businesses still want to see business growth: selling more units, more quickly to more people.

To demonstrate, here are a few numbers from presentations over the two days (let me know if you have seen or heard an even bigger number).

  • one billion new consumers in India and China by 2030
  • US$25 billion of sales in a single day for Alibaba
  • one trillion transactions handled every day by Netflix

So what? You might ask. A business gives its customers better experiences, the business grows as a result, surely that’s the whole point? That’s the purpose of business.

Yes…and no. Or, in my opinion, yes today….but no tomorrow.

Willy Kruh, Global Chair for Consumer & Retail at KPMG, speaking on the last day of the conference told us that in 2018, millennials will become the biggest consumer segment in the world, numbering 2.5 billion people with a spending power of US$3 trillion.

What Willy didn’t cover was that millennials (I believe) do not agree that the whole point of business is growth. They believe in a more nuanced, multi-dimensional, human and sustainable purpose for business.

To see how this may affect the future of customer experience, look at the new breed of businesses that millennials are creating themselves. Businesses like Naadam Cashmere, which operates profitably, but pays its herders 50% more than traditional models, while reducing end-user prices by 50%.

Naadam’s purpose is wider than simply growth. It considers its impact on people and the planet. I believe that this affects their investment and operational decisions, and that then affects their customer experience.

For instance, Nadaam’s story is front and centre on their website and social channels. Customer service is by email, not live chat or AI bot. Delivery is three to five days, not next day, same day, or in an hour by drone ☺.  They show that when you trust customers to value your business purpose, you can trust them to understand your business decisions, in this case slower transactions.

I appreciate that the social purpose of business is not new; business leaders have been speaking about this for decades. What’s new is the commercial imperative.

As millennials decide where to spend their US$3 trillion I’m willing to bet that the value they place on business purpose will continue to rise. The implications for customer experience are vast and not easy or quick. But the businesses that embrace this change will have a new, and attractive, competitive edge that no amount of technical wizardry can compete with.

So, if your business purpose would make perfect sense to a nineteenth century industrialist, now might be a very smart time to re-think it.

Robbie Hearn

ALSO READ…

Community Job Descriptions (Intro) – VP of Community

Dear fellow Community Management Professionals, I’ve noticed some of us asking for job descriptions of our roles out there in the ether, like recently on the CMX Facebook group, including the job description VP of Community, sometimes also called Chief Community...

Voice of the Customer: How to do more with less

I absolutely love to hear businesses talk about their “Voice of the Customer” programs. Whether it’s from incumbents like British Gas or challengers like Atom Bank, it’s heartwarming to hear brands giving their customer an active voice in the company. But I know, like...

Three Powerful Statements To Use In Your Online Community

“As Community Managers, we are human. We talk to people. We are interested in each other, we share opinions and we listen. But most importantly, we understand each other. As Community Manager , you should move beyond informing and let customers feel part of the...

CMX Summit 2017 – My top five insights

I am still buzzing after last month’s CMX Summit in Los Angeles - the experience was exhilarating and full of positive energy.  My greatest memory of the event was the scavenger hunt, but I can leave that for another blog post! Instead, I’ll give you my top 5...

Managing the customer experience – it’s the little things

To kick off 2018, Standing on Giants is sponsoring the Customer Experience Management in Telecoms Global Summit. This is exciting for us, because the event focuses precisely on what we love most – great customer experiences! Companies approaching Standing on Giants...

Job Vacancy: Community Manager – Italian Speaking

We are an exciting young company based in London Paddington with unprecedented expertise in Online Community Management. Our founders have won several awards for their outstanding work in this field and we continue to strive to impact the relationship between brands...

How a branded community would have saved Paperchase from a Twitterstorm

Paperchase recently found themselves where no brand wants to be – at the heart of a Twitterstorm. Social media users were quick to express their dismay when the company placed a promotion in the Daily Mail. Paperchase soon withdrew the promotion, apologising and...

Community Collaboration is the key to small business success

Launching a business is an exciting challenge, but it always comes with adversities to overcome. Elements such as low brand awareness, smaller budgets for marketing and the realisation that headcount is a huge expense can make it difficult to change the...

4 Steps To Using Data Driven Strategy For Community Engagement

Most of us have heard the phrase ‘the more the merrier’ and that holds true for our Online Forums. Increasing community engagement leads to heavily involved members that “spend up to ten times more than an average customer.” (How to Increase Sales by Vincent Boon) The...

Key questions to consider before launching a customer community

In a previous blog post, I talked about the need for a real purpose for your community, with a set of goals attached to it. This ensures you understand what it is you want to achieve with your community. It enables you to give your members a clear...

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Hearn

Robbie Hearn

Founder

Robbie lives and breathes customer experience. A calm business and community integrator, he unlocks the potential of customers by weaving them into processes of each company