Forrester – Empowered customers drive deeper business transformations in 2017



Businesses today are under attack, but it’s not by their competitors. They are under attack from their customers. Three years ago, Forrester identified a major shift in the market, ushering in the age of the customer. Power has shifted away from companies and towards digitally savvy, technology-empowered customers who now decide winners and losers.

Our Empowered Customer Segmentation shows that consumers in Asia Pacific are evolving — and becoming more empowered — along five key dimensions. These five key shifts explain changing consumption trends and lead to a sense of customer empowerment: Consumers are increasingly willing to experiment, reliant on technology, inclined to integrate digital and physical experiences, able to handle large volumes of information, and determined to create the best experiences for themselves.

At one end of the spectrum are Progressive Pioneers, who rapidly evolve and feel most empowered; at the other end we find Reserved Resisters, who are more wary of change and innovation. While the segments are globally consistent and apply across markets, we see significant differences when comparing countries. Our analysis of metropolitan online adults in Australia found that a third of them fall into the most empowered segments — Progressive Pioneers and Savvy Seekers. Highly empowered customers will switch companies to find new and exciting experiences. In this environment, being customer-obsessed and constantly innovating are the only ways to remain competitive.

Organisations in Australia understand this new environment and have started leveraging digital technologies to better engage and serve their B2C and/or B2B empowered customers. While important, most of these investments remain cosmetic in nature. Being customer obsessed requires much more than a refreshed user experience on a mobile app. It requires an operational reboot. To date, few organisations have started the hard transformation work of making their internal operations more agile in service of these customers. To win the business of these empowered customers, digital initiatives in 2017 will have to move from tactical, short term initiatives to broader and deeper functional transformation programs.

Being customer obsessed requires much more than a refreshed user experience on a mobile app. It requires an operational reboot.

Customer obsession requires harnessing every employee, every customer data point, and every policy in the organisation. Eventually, companies will have to assess and address six key operational levers — technology, structure, culture, talent, metrics, and processes — derived from the four principles of customer obsession: customer-led, insights-driven, fast, and connected. Done well, customer obsession promises to help your organisation win, serve, and retain customers with exceptional and differentiated customer experiences.


Michael Barnes, VP and research director, Forrester.


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