Customer Experience Roundup, May 14, 2019

Changing technology can lead to uncharted waters for many companies. As technology evolves, it can cause challenges and major setbacks. Balancing new technology with the preferences and privacy of customers is a new battleground for many brands. This week featured three stories of companies wrestling with technology and how to balance their own needs with their customers’.

Starbucks Accepts Cryptocurrency, But Won’t Say So

Starbucks is among a growing number of retailers accepting cryptocurrency and bitcoin, but it has yet to official acknowledge the change. Gemini, the company that owns the cryptocurrency, and Flexa, the company that built the payment app, have tested the payments at numerous retailers with hundreds of users and had an overwhelming success rate. That means that instead of waving their phones under the payment scanner to access Apple Pay or traditional mobile wallets, customers are paying with intangible bitcoin.

Cryptocurrency started out as an unknown and misunderstood currency that many people associated with the dark web, so to have it be readily accepted at major retailers like Starbucks is a big move. However, none of the retailers have actually acknowledged that they accept bitcoin, which could show that they’re not completely on board. If cryptocurrency catches on, it could lead to a big boost for many customers by adding additional payment options.

Supreme Court Rules Against Apple

Apple was hit with a court ruling this week as the Supreme Court issued a verdict against it in a monopoly case. The 5-4 ruling says iPhone users can continue with the antitrust lawsuit against the App Store they started years ago. Users say the 30% commission Apple gets on app sales creates an unfair monopoly and leads to inflated prices. Apple argues that only app developers can bring a lawsuit, not the users themselves. As the verdict was announced, Apple shares were down 5%, also amidst trade concerns.

The ruling and lawsuit from iPhone users will set the tone for other companies with online marketplaces, such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. Apple could be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties in the case, which could scare other companies into restructuring their marketplaces to be more customer-friendly. The court ruling shows the power of modern customers and how dissatisfied customers can have a real impact on a company’s success.

Amazon’s Echo Dot Fails Children’s’ Privacy

Alexa could be listening to more than just your kids’ favorite songs. Two independent advocacy groups recently found the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition, which is marketed as a way for kids to easily talk to Alexa and get age-appropriate content, can cause major gaps in child privacy. Both groups found that the device makes it easy for kids to share their names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other private information with Alexa and that it’s difficult for parents to delete that information from the system. The personal information of kids younger than 13 is protected under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which Amazon could have potentially violated by not getting consent from parents before gathering the information.

Customer experience and privacy matters just as much for kids as it does for adults. If kids aren’t safe or aren’t having a good experience, it translates to what their parents are willing to spend. Especially in today’s world where children are constantly at risk, parents are even more vigilant about their children’s security and privacy. Amazon needs to update its programs and devices to match that concern and protect its youngest customers.

In the ever-changing technology landscape, companies need to be prepared to constantly battle on issues related to new ideas and applications. Protecting customers and meeting their needs should always be first priority.

Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, futurist and author of two books, “The Customer Of The Future” and “More Is More.” Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.

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