In some time, when we look back at 2020 from a business perspective, it’ll be regarded as that moment in time which urged businesses and customers to embrace a digital future.
A new normal will emerge from forces spurred by technology, regulation, customers, and more. However, what is clear is that to better navigate the challenges of tomorrow– it’s important to balance perspectives.
In our annual survey that shares top priorities for businesses in the coming year, we’ve sought to establish exactly that balance. It is important to first understand what has changed as a result of the pandemic and the trends that are waiting around the corner.
Three guiding principles have emerged through conversations with thirteen-thousand seasoned professionals, who shared their hard-won lessons from the pandemic. The first is that empathy is the future of experience. The second, and one that exemplifies 2020, is that the new era is disruptive. Finally, in a generational shift of what brands mean to us today – their purpose becomes even more relevant than in times prior.
Empathy and the future of experience
The pre-pandemic era saw a physical world embracing various digital channels. However, businesses and consumers had to quickly transition to an almost completely digital ecosystem once lockdowns were thrust upon us in 2020. What emerged was the need for businesses to differentiate their digital experiences.
No longer were we in a world where a digital experience was a unique selling proposition in and of itself. Businesses had to embrace something marketers have been doing for a while – that of imbibing empathy in engaging with audiences.
Moving ahead, brands will need to continue embracing and integrating empathy through the entire customer experience where convenience alone won’t be the determining factor in building bonds with audiences.
The 10-millisecond opportunity
In the beginning of the pandemic, from work to our social lives, we embraced meetings on a plethora of platforms. As time wore on and into 2021, all those meetings that had a minimal lag between video and audio were painfully felt by every attendee. Why?
The human brain has an average reaction time of 10-milliseconds. While 10-milliseconds seems imperceptible in our daily lives, it speaks to how seamless our digital experiences need to be. In a pre-pandemic world that embraced an omni-channel customer experience strategy, minimal lag was acceptable as a part and parcel of the growing reach of technology.
However, in a world which had to solely rely on the digital medium to best engage with customers and audiences, saving milliseconds accrues toward creating breakthrough experiences for people, cultures, and markets that continue to evolve at a feverish pace.
Our findings corroborate this and highlight how Indian executives were the most likely to have been unusually agile and able to take quick decisions (34%) last year, and seem best poised to deliver rapid innovation that kept pace with evolutions in customer expectations.
There was a time when it was easy to define why corporations existed. Management and economic theory defined corporations as entities that existed to create wealth.
Today’s world is different. Brands are susceptible to forces far beyond pure investor sentiment. Brand purpose is the reason why brands exist beyond generating wealth. This goes beyond being a mere slogan and allows consumers and employees to connect with the brand personally as a reflection of their identity and consequently, choice.
The benefits of a clearly defined brand purpose ranges from deepening customer loyalty to driving strategy. The most significant benefit however is employee motivation.
In organisations with a distinct, defined brand purpose, 39% of employees say it has a ‘strong positive effect’, compared to only 15% of those whose brand statements do not qualify. In fact, at companies where brand purpose does not meet the standard, employees are six times as likely to say that it has ‘no effect’ or even a ‘negative effect’.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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