5 Consumer care thoughts from the 2017 KPCB 'State of the Internet' report

Every year I eagerly await the Kleiner Perkins Internet Trends report led by Mary Meeker (previously recommended as data source for strategy formulation). It is always a well-researched overview of what is happening at the intersection of consumers, the internet, and business. 

The 2017 version came out a few weeks ago (grab a copy here) - I have spent some time with it and wanted to share a few key takeaways for consumer care.

1. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Growth in mobile internet usage continues, now ~50% greater than desktop internet usage and over 3 hours per day for the average adult in the US. Ensuring that your brand websites (and contact us pages, product locators and so on) are responsive is essential for consumer experience and self service. (A responsive website will adapt to mobile browsers rather than force people to navigate the desktop site on a small screen.)

And this also underscores the potential for SMS to play a key role in your consumer engagement strategy, mobile, efficient, high consumer satisfaction - this is a great way for consumer care to offer a increasingly relevant way to connect.

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2. When will the Amazon Echo become a service channel?

Have a look at the chart below...there are more than 11 million Amazon Echo devices in US homes. That represents about 1 in 10 households (great penetration), and probably over represented in the households likely to contact consumer care given what we known their demographic profile. And the number of 'skills' or things you can do with the Echo has grown dramatically as well. One of the most interesting, recently announced skills is the ability to use the Echo to make voice calls to other Echo devices. My unscientific survey of fellow Echo owners indicates that the kitchen is the most common home for these devices - how long will it be until food and beverage consumer care leverages this as channel right at the 'point of use?' We already see it being used to deliver brand content - so my guess is that a forward thinking consumer relations team will be all over this very soon.

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 3. Consumer Expectations

The chart below really offers two conclusions - 'be more available' and 'treat me the same no matter how we connect.' Those are both certainly themes that have been consistent in the consumer care industry for quite some time. Frankly the fact that these appear in such a broadly viewed work should be a useful reference point for those of us seeking funding to add capabilities to our consumer care operation.

That being said, I am a relentless reader of footnotes. The fact that this is based on a survey of 400 consumers in Australia, New Zealand, the US and Europe does not give me great confidence... We are fans of survey research but recognize that credibility rests on strong methodology. That is really too few completes in too many different markets / consumer groups to put a great deal of weight in the findings.kp 3.png

Another slide references the approach that SoFi (an online financial services company) has taken in letting consumers 'peek behind the curtain' to understand how things work and connect directly with the CEO on their experience. These are certainly tactics that consumer care has seen before (in particular I would guess that many of us are familiar with the 'Executive Email Carpet Bomb' that consumers often use to great effect). But again, their presence here is a great catalyst to help drive change in brands - how can you make more behind the scenes perspective available? How can your brand become easier to reach in a way that demonstrates real commitment from leadership to care about the voice of the consumer?
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4. Help close the last mile

The question of how the physical world and the digital world come together is a fascinating one. And while ecommerce continues to grow by leaps and bounds - in most categories there is still a huge 'in real life' component to selling consumer goods (and even in ecommerce the real life logistics can offer staggering complexity).

In that vein artificial reality and augmented reality present fascinating possibilities. While Google Glass may have been sunsetted there are any number of companies pushing along that direction (for a great exploration of these trends I recommend The Fourth Transformation as a terrific read on where these technologies are heading).

We get a huge number of consumer engagements via the SPOT product locator systems we host for 100+ clients that address the need for 'in real life' commerce. I found the Lowe's use of augmented reality to solve the 'where do I find?' question within a store to be a fascinating application of this technology to a real consumer need.

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5. Gaming

If you read nothing else in this report, I recommend the substantial sections on gaming. (If you work globally and have time for one more section the data on digital trends in China and India is great.) To be honest - I am not terribly confident in predicting how gaming will impact consumer care. At one point when 'Clash of Clans' (a mobile multiplayer online game) became one of the most widely traffic messaging platforms in the world I wondered if a gaming platform could be a channel for consumer care. We have also had ongoing conversations about 'gamifying' agent training - but that does not seem to have stuck just yet.

However, if you look at the dynamics of gaming and the amount of time spent in digital games (- not just by the youngest generations!) it seems likely to bring about some deep, fundamental changes in human behavior - and therefore in how brands engage with people and people engage with brands.

If you have some thoughts drop me a line at johns@wilkeglobal.com - would love to discuss the potential!

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Topics: data, social media, Analytics and Insights, research