Post-digital customers

There’s a big difference between listening and hearing.

How real people think and feel about being customers, and what they want to say to brands.

We wanted to understand how real people think, feel and talk about being ‘customers’.  And to get a sense of what post-digital customers want to say to brands.  So, we decided to create a series of ‘Customer portraits’.

There are 13 portraits in total, which we hope give a strong sense of who these customers are as people, and of the lives they live.  There’s nothing particularly special about these 13 as customers, other than they have something of value to say to brands and want to be heard.

We would like to thank Nick Hand for his wonderful images.

There are 13 ‘Customer portraits’ in total, which we hope give a strong sense of who they are as people, and of the lives they live. There’s nothing particularly special about them, other than they have something of value to say to brands and want to be heard.

Customers’ concerns about brands’ use of digital.

We asked post-digital customers what they want to say to brands. What we heard took us aback.

People love all the good things that digital has brought. However, there is growing evidence of concerns around the way brands use digital. This goes beyond generic concerns related to digital around privacy, security, data use, etc., though these are linked.

Customers know that digital gives brands loads of information about them. They are reasonably comfortable with this – so long as brands use their information intelligently and well. (The opposite is also true, and there is an important GDPR implication here.)

What increasingly riles customers, though, is when:

  • their information is not well used, or only as and when it suits the brand;
  • online doesn’t work as well as customers know they can and should;
  • feedback is constantly requested (‘it’s important to us’) and not acted on;
  • digital marketing keeps following them around the internet;
  • when they can’t buy stuff without having to give tons of personal data;
  • when personalisation crosses ‘the creepy line’, as Google describes it;
    and so on.

What we realised is that, once you tune into this low-level, background hum of customer irritation, you hear it everywhere, getting louder.