Digital disruption impacts almost every business model, albeit at different rates. For instance media industries, such as music, television and books, have seen significant structural changes. The results for consumers have been greater freedom of choice and improved overall experiences. Expectations have evolved as Customer Experience innovations occur. Studies show that customer experience and loyalty metrics go hand-in-hand. With evolving expectations, old brand loyalties can, and have, been quickly changed.
In the current age of continuously accelerating innovation, new offerings appear that were ‘impossible’ just a few years ago. Customer Experience innovations are vital to ensuring loyal customers in today’s competitive landscape as they look for more holistic and satisfying relationships. The digital tools to enable this are accessible to everyone. Some use digital to do the ‘same old things’ better. But true industry disruptors use digital to do new and different things. That is when current customer experience, and the corresponding loyalty habits, can be disrupted very quickly.
Radical Is Better
I have personally changed my habits due to disruptive innovation. Granted I am an early adopter, but I like to try out new products from vendors that clearly want to help me with a problem and not just sell me some wares. These are companies that go beyond incremental product improvements and deliver radical innovation and hence loyalty in the digital era.
I belong to a number of programs with loyalty membership cards. What would cause me to stray from my program of benefits when I purchase a hotel room, food at a grocery store, or a bicycle from a sporting goods retailer? Well, I may be purchasing a bike, but what I really need is to belong to an online community that wirelessly tracks my biking activity and also helps me to lose weight. Therein lies the opportunity for a disruptor to combine a purchase with a solution to a customer’s real problem.
Complex? Why, Yes I Am
My decision making process is a complex one and solicitors of my wallet need to be attentive to my rational and emotional needs as well as monetary needs. Disruptive innovators are appearing more frequently and have successfully driven a change in my habits by addressing more of my multifaceted needs and delivering experience beyond the product sell.
If I haven’t convinced you, then let me show you three recent examples that have disrupted my loyalty.
Amazon Kindle and Audible Books
I have been an Amazon Prime customer for a number of years. My loyalty is paid back with many traditional benefits such as discounts, convenience and special offers. Amazon has clearly been a serial industry disruptor and I experienced yet another just recently.
I often download samples of Kindle books to take a look before I purchase. The integrated bookstore with samples and wireless download helped get me hooked on Kindle in the first place. Whilst I prepared to purchase one of the samples I tried, I was intrigued by an offer that popped up. I had used Audible.com before but this offer gave me a discount on the audio version of the novel I was purchasing. Moreover, my Kindle book location AND the Audio book are synchronized across all devices! Whispersync for Voice allows me to listen to the book while I am driving and read it at my leisure without searching for the last read/heard page.
Screenshots of my Audible book (left) and Kindle book (right)
That is a great customer experience that I have not seen before. After trying it out, I was motivated to purchase a monthly Audible.com account. This disrupted my behaviour because I now use my Kindle and Audible even more frequently at the expense of other vendors.
After installing and opening this app, I followed excellent and simple instructions to have my iPad camera capture my face. The app then generated a 3D model of my head so virtual sunglass could be shown to me. Without having to go to a store I could choose from hundreds of selections to try. I could even turn my cyber-head to see how the glasses would look from different directions.
Images generated by glasses.com iPad application
Moreover, the app lets me post selections online. I chose Facebook and Twitter, to allow my friends to vote for the ones they liked best. The ease and convenience is obvious and the brand loyalty it generated is immense. I have told this story several times and have recommended this service unequivocally, including right here. (Please vote!)
I am still impressed with the quality of the app and the huge selection of sunglasses available to try out. Imagine trying out hundreds of glasses and getting dozens of your friends to vote in a store!
Adobe Creative Cloud
Often it is best to disrupt your own products before someone else does it for you. Adobe has done just that with their launch of Creative Cloud earlier this year. I have used Adobe products for years. They have been around as long as I have used computers and helped create the traditional software product business model. With the launch of Creative Cloud, Adobe is morphing their model into an online monthly subscription service.
Previously, the suite of Adobe products had an 18-24 month life cycle for which you paid up front. The upgrade pricing structure could be difficult for many and the combination of options for purchase was confusing. By switching to a monthly subscription, users can buy what they need when they need it. Suites of products or single product subscriptions are available. With online delivery of products and upgrades, Adobe is making it much easier to provide updates and flexibility, as well as controlling piracy.
I especially like the student edition where $19-$29 a month gets the Adobe tools and integrated access to their creative professions’ online community. This disrupts behavior before others get a chance to disrupt Adobe’s legendary loyalty. This offering definitely has kept me in the fold as opposed to looking for cheaper or open source solutions. I look for new tools all of the time but Adobe has now raised the bar to would be competitors by offering simplicity, convenience and value.
I hope you can see that disruptive change is happening all around us. The switch in what you think is loyal behavior by customers can be astoundingly quick. The bar for competitors needs to be raised by incumbent players. If they do not, many, like me, will change allegiances to those that provide a better and more complete Customer Experience.