Even as businesses adapt to everything that 2020 has thrown at them, they need to look further out to what the current disruption means for next-generation customer experiences and relationships, says a digital transformation expert.

“If you try to build for the customer today, once you’ve finished building, they [will] have moved on,” says Charlene Li, author and senior fellow at research firm Altimeter. “You’ll have to constantly catch up with them,” she told a recent digital event. “But if you aim for where they are going to, and get there just as they get there, you will be ahead of your competition.”

The further out into the future that companies can look, the more disruptive they can be, she added.

One of the ways she recommends thinking about future customers is not in terms of demographics or psychographics, but rather that companies should simply strive to see things from their customers’ perspective.

To this end she advocates the use of ‘empathy maps’ for teams to gather insights into future customers. An empathy map essentially asks four questions

• What does the customers say?

• What do they think?

• What do they do?

• How do they feel?

“It is about really getting into where they are at that particular moment, thinking about how you can understand them better, and developing empathy for them,” said Li.

“What makes empathy maps so powerful is the fact that they are easy to spread throughout the entire organisation, so everyone understands who this future customer is and everyone is capable of standing in their shoes,” she explained.

Using empathy maps can also help employees to zoom in on future customers. “One day, when the future customer happens to come across their path, they can recognise them,” Li said.

For more details, read WARC’s report: Five things brands can do to anticipate future customers and build for growth.

Sourced from WARC