The Traditional View of “The Customer”
The current concept of “customer” is pretty straightforward. There are consumers, which can also be subdivided into minor subcategories, there are business customers, which fall into the categories of “large enterprises” and SMBs.
In the past, consumers were thought of as retail customers, and business as wholesales customers; a single customer for a single service with each product sale resulting in a single source of revenue.
Who Is The Customer Of The Future?
The future view of the concept of “customer” appears to be much more blurred and will need to be handled differently.
Instead of a single instance resulting in a single purchase of a single product, the customer could be a consumer buying connectivity services from a Digital Services Provider (DSP), or a business buying insight into what the customer likes, what their current context is, and their propensity to buy from them, or a business paying the DSP to enable the delivery of a piece of content (such as an e-voucher), or even a public body paying the DSP to deliver a targeted piece of information to the customer (for example, public health information).
Exactly What Will The Customer Evolve Into?
The evolving nature of the “Customer” in the world of the future transaction means that the existing simple relationship between product and customer will be very, very different. The perception and behavior of DSPs and of the customers themselves will impact directly on how products are handled.
For example, take the scenario of a customer who wants to buy some chocolate. A store owner – such as a grocer – would want customers to buy in-store, rather than from an online store or rival grocer. He may also wish to promote a certain product, either a generic brand, or one it is being paid to promote, or one that is over-stocked. The chocolate manufacturer would naturally prefer that customers consider their product over a rival or a generic product, plus it may also want to recommend a new bar it is launching. On top of this, the government might want to remind consumers that chocolate eaten in excess can be bad for you. And finally, a health insurance company may wish to promote a healthier choice, or may simply wish to know that the customer is eating chocolate, so they can make adjustments to healthcare premiums – linking behavior to price.
Clearly, by 2020, DSPs will need to view customers in a far more sophisticated light, and move to a more self-service scenario oriented model where the customer is in control of both what and when they buy. The needs of individual customers will also have to be met by laser-targeting their needs, behavior and current context.
For more information about the future of DSPs and the customer, click here to download the white paper, Service Provider 2020: The Effects on Product Strategy