You Can’t Connect To Customers Without This
He might be a global futurist, but Anders Sorman-Nilsson says he’s also “a bit of a traditionalist.”
by Ernan Roman
Posted on 10-13-2018
Anders Sorman-Nilsson is a global futurist and innovation strategist who helps leaders decode trends, decipher what’s next and turn provocative questions into proactive strategies. His view is that the future and the now are converging in a city or startup near you, giving the curious, the creative, and the courageous a competitive and sustainable edge.
During a recent conversation with Sorman-Nilsson, I was impressed by his views about human-centric empathy. I asked him to share his thoughts for this edition of “4 Questions for Digital Innovators.”
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
Human-centric empathy. As a futurist, I am also a bit of a traditionalist. Today, marketers oftentimes focus on the shiny digital penny of CX, predictive lead scoring, or conversational commerce, but sometimes forget about the analog value of deeply empathizing with your clients.
Solving client frustration is an act of empathy, and redesigning customer journeys according to the human-centric needs of your clients’ digital minds and analog hearts is imperative. For example, in the insurance industry some spend up to 50% of their contact center budgets on answering status update calls, which are calls from fellow humans who are frustrated with the slow claim-to-payment part of the customer journey. InsurTechs like Lemonade have taken a human-centric approach to designing their client journey by removing the paperwork, allowing clients to speak their claims into their mobile device, being authenticated biometrically, and running AI algorithms for fraud in real-time, thereby setting a world record between claim and payment–in three seconds.____
Winning brands reinvent the customer journey from a deeply empathetic perspective and beautifully extend that analog, human core via digital ingenuity.
2. Why is this so important?
Without empathy there can be no true customer connect. Customers see through brands’ piecemeal additions of shiny new channels if they cannot spot the foundational empathy behind them. We have all had the awful experience of checking in via badly designed digital kiosks at airports, signed Alexa up for active listening therapy, or stepped into VR worlds that gave us vertigo. Unless brands are able to clearly communicate their empathetic value and how their new digital solution will augment or transform our lives, customers just won’t buy into what they perceive as a digital incursion.
3. How will this improve the customer experience?
Customer frustrations are always fertile grounds for innovation. Statistics show that in 2018, only 2% of Americans who have Alexa installed have conversationally asked her to complete a purchase, and of those early adopters 90% have never done it again. This illustrates that neither the digital device nor the customer experience is so transformational or seamless that customers are willing to discard old shopping methods for the shiny new penny.
For example, if you or I were to examine which problem-solving or data-centric apps we most use on our smart phones, the likelihood is we have adopted them because they empathetically solved a big frustration. For me, Slack (collaboration), Uber (on-demand transport), Pzizz (power naps), Acorns (micro-investment for my 15-month-old son), FullContact (business card CRM integration), and Tripit (to manage 240 travel days a year) all have transformed how I interface between the physical, analog world and the digital. Now, ask yourself which apps or fitness trackers you have discarded and likelihood is the discarded devices or UIs neither solved a problem empathetically, nor were beautiful to engage with.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
As marketers, we have to strike the right balance between the artful and the emotional, and the scientific and the technological. As a futurist, I believe in the power of questions to drive concrete outcomes. To help you think about the questions you should ask yourself and your organization, here are four questions asked by the most innovative brands:
- How can I get twice the result with half the effort through technology and human empathy?____
- Which old, analog processes don’t offer us any actionable data foresight and need upgrading immediately?____
- What is the ‘analog baby’ in our business that mustn’t be thrown away with the digital bathwater, but which can be further augmented through technology?____
- If you acted as a fiduciary for your clients, how would you redesign your customer journey to reflect that added human responsibility?
Bonus: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
I cherish reconnecting with my loved ones while disconnecting from the digital world. Spending time with family and friends skiing, entering the magical world of my baby son’s “science experiments”, deeply reading a magazine or book, and engaging with the elements while ocean swimming are all things which help rejuvenate and ground me - maybe even help make me more empathetic to those around me.
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