Customer Experience Round-Up: November 25

Customer-centric companies know the value of trying new things and experimenting with new products and technology. On many occasions, those new efforts pay off with an improved customer experience. But in some cases, trying to change things can misfire. Here are three stories from the week about the changing world of customer experience.

Kroger Cuts Extras After Sales Slump

Leading grocery chain Kroger was leading the charge towards a revolutionized grocery shopping experience. That is, until sales took a dip. After introducing new products and renovating stores in the face of growing competition, Kroger recently decided to cut back its updates and return to basics. Instead of offering flashy perks and marketing, the company is putting resources back into its basic grocery efforts. Only around 20% of stores were actually remodeled under the original plan.

Many brands think improving the customer experience means revamping the entire operation and introducing new perks and products. In reality, customers want reliable and convenient solutions more than anything else. Kroger learned the hard way that trying to do too much can pull attention from what matters most: delivering great service to customers.

Landlords Screen Renters With Robots

Choosing a new tenant is always risky for landlords, who don’t know if the person will follow the rules and pay their rent on time. A growing number of landlords are using robots to screen potential tenants based on algorithms that predict how likely they are to pay rent. The systems pull data from the internet and credit rating companies to see a person’s spending habits and lifestyle. The machine learning programs bring up privacy concerns for tenants but could potentially relieve much of the risk for landlords.

This example highlights a growing dilemma in a technology-driven world: if data can provide a better experience for brands or customers, is it worth the lost privacy? Screening potential tenants with robots could rub people the wrong way, especially people who are trying to turn their past or habits around. Customers are generally willing to give up a small degree of privacy to get personalized service, but companies need to be aware of the line they cross when they veer too heavily into automation.

Airbnb Offers Experience-Led Olympics

Airbnb recently signed a major deal with the International Olympic Committee for a $500 million sponsorship for the next five Olympics. The deal opens the doors for more experience-based Olympics as guests have the chance to experience host cities like never before. The IOC is also encouraging athletes to sell personal experiences as an additional revenue stream. A number of athletes are considering offering exclusive experiences to train and interact with fans through Airbnb.

The experience economy is alive and growing, and Airbnb’s involvement in the Olympics is the latest example of that. Encouraging athletes to interact directly with fans offers a unique experience not available anywhere else. For millennials and consumers who would rather spend money on experiences and travel than things, the partnership could be a great boost.

Customer experience is constantly changing, and brands need to change along with it. Taking measured risks and always keeping customers at top of mind can help all brands succeed.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and the author of two books including her new book The Customer Of The Future. You can learn more by signing up for her newsletter here.

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