“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”
To remain competitive in today’s marketplace, businesses have been forced to accept digital transformation as their new reality. Of all the changes technology has facilitated in recent years, consumer behavior is perhaps the most significant. For consumers, getting what they want – when they want it – and how they want it has become an expectation, and in an effort to accommodate this shift in power, businesses have had to significantly alter their strategies.
With a seemingly endless list of options available to consumers, and convenience being a major driver behind today’s purchasing decisions, organizations have begun to use the customer experience as a key competitive differentiator. For many, this has meant placing a greater emphasis on adopting more omnichannel-centric approaches to sales and marketing, and leveraging the digital channels and tools needed to deliver a seamless customer experience. While the need for digital transformation is widely-felt among modern businesses, some have achieved far more than others.
What separates these digital masters from the rest, you ask? Simply put, it’s their ability to align consumer needs and preferences with technology to deliver digitally-led, multichannel, data-driven experiences. With that said, there’s no one single recipe to realizing a customer-centric model. Let’s take a look at a couple of today’s most successful digital companies, and what they’re doing to thrive in the age of the customer.
You’d be hard pressed to find any consumer that did not consider Amazon to be among the top companies in terms of delivering an exceptional customer experience. As the undisputed leader in digital business, Amazon’s ability to innovate through a customer-centric approach and leverage word-of-mouth marketing has been integral to achieving the level of positive recognition that they’ve received.
In an interview published by Bloomberg, CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, states “We see our customer as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” In addition to using the customer experience as the basis for all strategy development, Jeff Bezos explains that word-of-mouth marketing has been an extremely powerful marketing tool for Amazon, and discussed the importance of leveraging word-of-mouth marketing in the digital space, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000.”
Prior to the release of Uber, the cab industry remained virtually unchanged for close to 400 years. The process consisted of riders hailing cabs on the side of the road, a car picking said rider up, dropping them off at their requested destination, and paying for the ride based on a black-box meter. Now, although the luxury of making a reservation and paying via credit card did surface over the years, the rider experience continued to be unreliable, unsafe, unsanitary, and very expensive.
Then, in 2009 Uber came into the picture. Leveraging the mobile technology that had already integrated itself into most facets of our everyday lives, Uber completely disrupted the prehistoric cab industry by creating an easy, transparent, and truly customer-centric experience. Rather than following industry trends, Uber gave riders to the ability to order rides from the safety of their own home, conveniently from their smartphone, while also providing specific details about the driver that would soon be picking them up.
A page that all modern businesses can take out of Amazon’s and Uber’s play book is to stop focusing so much on what competitors are doing, and start focusing more on fulfilling consumer needs. If an organization is able to build a great experience in the digital marketplace, consumers will undoubtedly become their greatest marketing asset.
As it relates to the public transportation industry, delivering an exceptional rider experience has been a major driver behind eliminating the stigma of public transit in America. Those transit providers who have chosen to leverage modern technology, like route scheduling software, have been able to transform the public’s perception of public transit by demonstrating the efficiency, affordability, safety, and social responsibility that is offered through public transportation alternatives.