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PORTER: Future customer service to get real personal

Car companies that promise to make you a better driver. A weight-loss company that guarantees to change your life. Food products that actually reduce your cholesterol.

What do these radical-sounding services and products have in common?

Pushing past today’s emphasis on the customer experience, these 21st century businesses all want to effect a more permanent — and ultimately more personal — change to the customer. A customer transformation.

While experiences quickly fade, new and future companies that promise to change the customer in some lasting way will not only attract a lot of business but also be able to charge higher prices.

Just as Starbucks changed forever the way we drink coffee, these businesses will transform the economy in new and interesting ways.

 

This butter actually reduces cholesterol

The Swedish company Benecol is out to change the way we eat. With its butter and margarine products containing cholesterol-fighting ingredients developed after extensive research, stores in Europe literally can’t keep it on the shelf.

Benecol has learned that when your products can have a more lasting effect on the customer, demand increases exponentially. These companies are also finally learning to charge for the full economic value of their products or services.

 

Change your habits to lose that weight

Way past the familiar weigh-ins and measured food portions, the revitalized Jenny Craig organization is out to reinvent the billion-dollar weight-loss business.

With an emphasis on testing, coaching, online education and other digital tools, Jenny Craig is homing in on personal issues such as personality, habits and personal lifestyle to get results. And the results are successful.

It’s not just the food you eat but also how you think, what you value and how you act in everyday situations that matter. All these things are directly related to your weight and your health.

 

Car companies making you a better driver

Realizing early on that in addition to getting you from point A to point B, new automotive technology is available to actually improve driver performance, car companies such as General Motors have moved quickly to include it in their products.

From technologies such as OnStar using GPS and related technology to side and rear-view cameras now on most all new vehicles, car companies have realized they’re in the “better driver” business for good.

The next big leap here is, of course, the self-driving car or the autonomous vehicle. And with non-traditional car companies such as Google having a jump on them, you’d better believe GM and Toyota are racing to catch up.

If Google’s self-driving car can log thousands of highway miles with few or no accidents, who knows how it will change the car business?

In the next few years look for many more companies in a range of industries to have products and services that seek to leave a more lasting imprint on the customer. And although the customer experience will be with us for awhile, the customer transformation era is developing quickly.

As you look at your own business, are there opportunities to enhance your products so they have a longer lasting impact on your customers? Are there services you might offer that respond to a deeper need in customers?

If you answered yes to either of the above questions, you may just have the keys to the next big thing. And if you do, you may just be a part of moving customer experiences into the coming transformation economy.

 

William Porter has published books on customer experience and employee engagement and speaks regularly at business schools. Contact him at bpwilliamaporter@gmail.com.     

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