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The importance of retailers understanding consumers and delivering great customer experience

Recently at the  Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York on June 26,  Graham Atkinson, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at Walgreens, spoke about his work to transform the company from one that traditionally differentiated based on location to one that differentiates based on experience.

As reported in a recent blog by Harley Manning of Forrester, Graham talks about three customer experience initiatives underway, including:

  • Delivering the well experience
  • Transforming the community pharmacy
  • Taking the Walgreens brand to the world

You may have seen a recent Cisco video commercial on the area of customer experience called “Weekend Warrior”:

Here at Cisco, we believe that customer experience is part of the connections made possible by what Cisco describes as the Internet of Everything (IoE).

To further our knowledge in this area, Cisco recently released the Cisco Connected Customer Experience Report focused on the retail shopping experience.

In this report, we discovered that:

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Internet of Everything: A Pivot Point in Technology — and Thinking

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” So said Dave Evans, Cisco’s chief futurist, in his keynote address at Cisco Live 2013.  I couldn’t agree more! As we usher in a new era of hyperconnectivity, we will see our environment in unprecedented ways, and then manage it like never before.

The trick is getting the relevant data to the right people at the correct time.

Cisco calls this transformation the Internet of Everything (IoE). With its explosion in connectivity from 10 billion things today to 50 billion in 2020, IoE promises a profound transformation that will enhance nearly all aspects of our lives.

But only if we do it right. And that requires changing the ways in which we think.

For IoE to be a true game changer, it will take much more than infusing every road, refrigerator, tire, and supermarket shelf with data-generating sensors. IoE could, for example, have a deep impact on water management. Today, 30 percent of fresh water is lost to leaking pipes. But a sensor in a pipe can only tell you that it’s losing water (and you may already have known that). The key is managing the information, tying it into control systems, and creating far-reaching, highly efficient processes for rerouting water or mobilizing maintenance resources. Read More »

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The Internet of Everything: a Future Vision, Arriving Today

This week I had the privilege of speaking at Cisco Live 2013 about the coming explosion in connectivity among people, processes, data, and things, which Cisco calls the Internet of Everything (IoE).

This massive technological and societal shift promises to transform and accelerate our lives in profound ways as the number of connected objects soars from 10 billion today to 50 billion (and rising) by 2020.

Yet even before I left for Orlando or gave my first Cisco Live presentation, I saw ample evidence that IoE is not just a vision of the future. Increasingly, it is the Internet of today—and evolving rapidly all around us.

IoE represents the orchestration of a bevy of emerging technologies, including Big Data analytics, video, mobility, cloud, and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. And it will ultimately infuse almost everything—roads, jet-engine parts, shoes, refrigerators, soil, supermarket shelves, you name it—with cheap, tiny sensors that will generate terabytes of data to be sifted for key insights.

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What Do CEOs Care About in a Hyper-Connected World?

If you think we already live in a connected world (and we do!), get ready to fasten your seatbelts.

Today, there are “only” about 10 billion connected “things” on the planet. This includes hundreds of millions of people communicating with one another in myriad ways, and a rapid increase in two-way conversations between people and machines. That is, when the machines aren’t busy “chatting” with other machines.

It may sound complicated (and it is!). But the Internet of Things is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The next phase of the Internet — the Internet of Everything (IoE) — will encompass 50 billion connections involving people, process, data, and things by 2020. This will drive the next wave of dramatic Internet growth and opportunity.

Cisco estimates that the IoE economy promises a staggering $14.4 trillion in Value at Stake for private-sector companies globally over the next 10 years. This value is embedded in five drivers: asset utilization; employee productivity; supply chain and logistics; customer experience; and innovation.

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The Evolution of Customer Experience: Synchronicity!

I love shopping. I love traveling. I hate going to the hospital. I sometimes like going to the bank (only if it involves the depositing a large check). On the surface, it may seem that there’s no common thread about each of these experiences, however, there actually is a lot in common!

Each of these industries (retail, transportation, healthcare, banking) is becoming more passionate about truly delivering good customer experience and building customer loyalty. Why? Research has established that satisfied customers spend more money “now” and, in the longer term, become more loyal. For example, according to a J.D. Power survey, a delighted traveler is likely to spend 45% more money at the airport than someone who is disappointed with their experience.

Okay, sold! Let’s start delivering “good” experience and start counting the money…right? Not exactly. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.

First of all, what exactly is “good” experience? The answers will vary greatly depending on the industry vertical and brands within a vertical. Hence, one of the major challenges is actually defining “good” experience.

While there are certainly unique attributes to “good” experience in different industries, there is a common theme emerging: the synchronization of physical and digital experience. For example, research by Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, revealed 93% of products sold in the United States are still bought in brick-and-mortar locations. In addition, over 50% of all consumers access (or would like to access) to digital content while shopping in a store, either through digital touch-screens or their own smartphones/tablets. This research reveals that more and more consumers are relying on real-time digital content to make purchasing decisions. In essence, consumers are becoming “informed buyers” during the shopping experience.

Unfortunately, with respect to customer experience, in many companies today the physical and digital worlds still sit across a great divide. Often, these two functions are housed in different organizations and are loosely coupled with respect to operations and culture. While we’ve made significant progress, digital experience is often an after-thought that peacefully co-exists with physical experience.

But, that’s not going to work any more. Consumers are expecting more, and they vote with their wallets. So, start truly synchronizing your digital and physical experiences…or else!

There are indeed a number of challenges in making smart stores, what do you think is most difficult in actually accomplishing this?

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