New digital trends report predicts year of liquid customer expectations and design thinking

Rapid shifts in customer behaviour and digital advancements means marketers need to think about addressing 'micromoments', according to Accenture Interactive's Fjord division

Organisations this year will shift towards actionable change through human-centred design as customer expectations become more ‘liquid’, a recent report claims.

Among the key 2016 digital trends identified by Accenture Interactive’s digital division, Fjord, is the need for brands to listen to customers and gain valuable insights in order to better connect with them at every touch point.

Whether it’s literally listening to voice commands or to the streams of data being created, businesses must learn from users and respond in real time through intent-driven, increasingly effortless ‘micromoments’, Fjord claimed.

To achieve this, Fjord director, Bronwyn van der Merwe, told CMO organisations must focus on 'liquid services' that provide hyper-personalised experiences and tailored solutions to their customers.

“We’re also seeing services being delivered in much smaller and faster ways,” she said. “Services are becoming chunked up into little pieces of activity. Wearables is one area we can see a lot of these micro-moments playing out – and a smartwatch is just one of those many channels.”

Another mega-trend for organisations is the move to design thinking and change for understanding customer and employee experiences. Taking a human-centred approach to problem solving is seeing a rising number of companies employ design principles across their entire organisation, Fjord reported.

But it’s emphasising design as a tool for action that will bring the promise for customers to life, van der Merwe said.

“Successful businesses will move from design thinking to design doing,” she said. “It’s about setting up the right cultures, the right structures and the right levels of flexibility to really deliver on design thinking.”

According to Fjord, the surge of big data is also ushering in an era of extraordinary responsibility, and the most successful organisations appreciate digital trust must be earned. She noted ‘privacy by design’ is being embraced at companies such as Microsoft, which is embedding privacy standards into technology and product design from the start.

On top of this, ‘liquid’ consumer expectations are spilling over into the workplace, with employees now expecting the same best-in-class consumer experiences in a professional environment. As a result, Fjord said a new emphasis on employee experience design is reimagining workplace processes, structure and culture.

“The trends really help brands and marketers to differentiate,” van der Merwe said. “Consumer expectations are changing and we are seeing what we call ‘liquid expectations’ across boundaries. Marketers that can understand this can better deliver on what customers expect.

“It also pushes businesses to look at the emerging technologies that are out there. For instance, we’re seeing the rise of artificial intelligence and the drive towards more predictive services.”

Fjord also suggested technology is bringing premium services and VIP treatment to the masses. Where luxury services were once bestowed on a privileged few, personal chauffeurs like Lyft and virtual assistances like Facebook M are bringing these services to the masses and ‘flattening’ the divide.

“We’re seeing the democratisation of luxury services that used to only be available to a few people, and now they are becoming mainstream,” van der Merwe said.

Finally, a key trend Fjord identified in 2016 is within the public sector, with governments rethinking the citizen experience from a one-size-fits-all approach to finely-tuned services tailored to individual needs. For example, both the US and UK’s digital government departments have published meticulous design style guides.

“Governments are now working to coordinate services that are designed around people who are making life transitions, whether that is having a baby, or retiring or starting a business,” van der Merwe said. “It’s about taking a research-led approach to understanding all the different things that people need to do under those situations, understand their emotional state and meet their needs.

“This is something we are now seeing much more often in governments both here in Australia and globally."

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