On Flux Capacitors, Chat Commerce & Customized Services

The changing world of providing unique customer care opportunities

By BOB MIRMAN

My mom just turned 100 and is still one of the funniest women on the planet and prefers music from the 30’s and 40’s. However, when I asked last week what she felt like listening to, she laughed and said, “Dude…heavy metal.” Who says TV does not influence the way we talk?

Regardless of whether your company primarily caters to my mom’s Mah-Jongg buddies, or to millennials, Baby Boomers, or young families, the question remains: how are your competitors redesigning their business models to better fit the specific needs of their targeted customer-niche and underscore their public persona?

Here are some recent efforts that may help give you ideas on how you can redefine your business practices in 2019*:

  1. Businesses are quickly adapting by becoming much more sensitive to the specific – and often unstated – needs of their constituents. For example, my mom’s friends often find it easier to describe an event from 75 years ago than remember where they left their keys last night. Reliving these childhood memories adds to our comfort and happiness so it is not surprising that one customer-centric dementia care facility converted their traditional dining room to a more comfortable setting by adding design features, tables, music, and chairs reminiscent of a Marty McFly 1950’s-styled diner (without the Flux Capacitor). 2. In the UK, Morrison’s
  2. In the UK, Morrison’s supermarket chain opens its stores early on Saturdays for ‘quiet-shopping’, a feature created specifically for families with autistic children.
  3. In one fell swoop, the Indonesian city of Surabaya is fighting its trash problem and increasing ridership on its public bus system. How? Residents can pay for bus tickets with plastic waste, a simple trade, which solves two problems.
  4. Similarly, Adidas has introduced a special-edition sneaker that doubles as an annual pass to Berlin’s public transportation system.
  5. Sustainable housing is highlighted in the alternative property listings site Zerobnb. Created by Neste, the Finnish energy company, with an eye towards convincing Airbnb to create ‘sustainable homes’ as a category on their site, consumers are directed to homes with proper recycling opportunities, minimal plastic waste, and neighborhoods featuring sustainable transportation options.
  6. Sexual harassment or discrimination incidents are too often only witnessed by the victim. Enter SPOT, with an app offering a “24/7 anonymous time-stamped way to document harassment and discrimination.” An online bot asks questions to help the victim record the details, which then may or may not be reported to authorities.
  7. Chat Commerce: The strengthening impact of social media can be seen in the growth of a new segment: Online retailers without ecommerce or apps. Huh? Threads aims to “pioneer the best luxury shopping experience in the world” and offers this all through chat-based media like Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and WeChat.
  8. And while you could debate the societal impact of developing more comfortable chairs upon which gamers can perch, Ikea has partnered with Unyq (a 3D-printing company) to develop the “Ultimate personalized gaming chair”, which I guess is something I would cherish if I were to spend 8-10 hours a day blowing up space ships and slaying dragons from the comfort of my bedroom. This chair is created directly from a scan of the gamer’s butt, admittedly a rather asinine use of technological resources.

As we arrive in yet another year full of prognostications about the future, I ask you to remember the words of Christopher Lloyd (as Doc Brown): “The future hasn’t been written yet, it’s whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”

Bob Mirman is a psychologist and founder/CEO of 34-year old Eliant, the building industry’s largest firm specializing in managing the customer experience.He may be reached at contact@eliant.com

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