Developing Contextually Aware, “Living” Services

There’s a tremendous wave of change heading toward the retail business environment that will turn today’s approaches and strategies in completely new directions, impacting everything from store design to communication with consumers.  The name of this new wave? Living Services.

While there was the desktop Web wave of the 1990s and the mobile wave of the 2000s, Living Services are anticipated to be the next big wave in technology innovation to transform retail business environments and brand-to-consumer interactions.

What are Living Services? A report by Fjord, a global design and innovation consultancy, defines Living Services as “digital services that appear intuitively to consumers according to the particular time, place or situation they find themselves in. “

“Living Services will talk to us. They will know us. They will entertain us, assist us and protect us. They will respond by wrapping around us—constantly learning about our needs, intents and preferences, so they can flex and adapt to become more relevant, engaging and useful,” the report explained.

While contextual services may not seem like anything new, the technology that will now be enabling it is, and with it, comes new abilities to deliver real-time services at-scale. As opposed to past preference-driven experiences that were limited to the confines of mobile or the Web, Living Services breathes life into the vast and increasingly connected network of sensors, the cloud, smart devices and real-time analytics. From the embedding of sensors into new devices to the increasing rates of connectivity and the affordability of the cloud, all of these technologies are combining to create Living Services—services that tailor themselves in real-time around shifting end user needs and expectations, delivering more personalized and meaningful brand experiences than ever thought imaginable.

Key impacts on retailers and brands? Living Services will enable retailers to deploy less intrusive customer experiences and move away from bombarding shoppers with offers upon store or website arrival. They will change the shopping experience to be in real time, all around us and driven by things that are proximate to us. Some brands are already taking small steps to put living services to work within the retail spectrum. Nordstrom is now determining weekly store merchandising through tracking and gauging consumer product interest using Pinterest. The retailer is even providing their staff members with iPads that have the Pinterest app loaded so that they can show customers trending products and merchandise live. This Nordstrom example showcases how the intelligence of the connected network is being shared and leveraged by brands to deliver retail experiences that respond to changing behaviors and makes use of in-store devices. Another example is Brita’s Wi-Fi enabled Infinity pitcher, which tracks one’s filter usage and automatically orders replacements filters though Amazon Dash Replenishment, delivering the replacement filter to your home just in time as if by magic, and transforming a once static product into a living service. This evidences how the boundaries between products and devices are slowly coming down to be replaced by a fluid flow of services that wraps itself around the consumer.

The retailers and brands who wish to win in the Era of Living Services will need to work on better listening and responding to customers in relation to context. They will need to start experimenting in the delivery of real-time services and content in response to location, gesture and voice, enabling the consumer to be both the controller and receiver of their brand experience. This will require an all new experience design philosophy—one that is rooted in behavioral and contextual data optimization and that supports continuous design. Marketing and customer experience professionals will need to work to identify the environmental and behavioral factors most critical to shaping their individualized service delivery, partnering with designers and developers to study how outside world influences such as weather, time, occurring events and proximity shape customer experience.

Living Services will change the dynamic between customers and brands to one that is more consumer-centric and relationship based. It will increase service personalization and purpose, critical to winning consumer affection in this digital age. The organizations most likely to thrive in the Era of Living Service will be those able to embrace continuous design and anticipate and respond to customer needs in relation to context.

“As Living Services start to change the dynamic between customers and brands from one that is based on intrusive marketing and isolated transaction points, to one that is more consumer-centric and relationship-based, brands will need to start mapping where they stand with individual consumers.”

To learn how you can begin to build the real-time personalization capabilities you need to win in The Era of Living Services, please call 203-731-3555 or email inquiries@cierant.com for a free consultation with one of our enterprise solution executives.

 

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