CES – The Challenge of Customer Communications in the IoT Era
I recently had the opportunity to represent Apptentive at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and wanted to share a few observations from the event that left a lasting impression and an indication of the expanding role of customer communication in an increasingly connected world.
First impressions? CES this year was HUGE.
CES 2015 hosted over 170,000 industry professionals from all reaches of the globe and celebrated innovations in every area of consumer electronics. The four-day conference took up over 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space at the beautiful Cosmopolitan Hotel on the Vegas Strip and had over 3,600 exhibitors – including a record number of startups.
The theme of this year’s conference was “The Internet of Things,” (IoT), and I’d say that’s a pretty good way to categorize the eclectic collection of gadgets we saw – from smart pacifiers, to high-tech roller skates, to Edwin the Duck.
CES boasted a “who’s who” of tech innovators. From big brands like Tesla showing off an entire selection of self-driving cars to overseas startups selling designer selfie sticks, every minute was full of humbling sights and memorable experiences.
On Customer Communication, Our Own Awesome Customers, and the Best Party on the Strip
Amid all the chaos of dodging connected cars and drones galore, there were three prevailing observations that made a noteworthy impression.
First, an overarching appreciation for the customer experience is here to stay. Brands didn’t come to showcase the latest and greatest innovations. They came to deliver a spectacle, an experience.
Throughout our many conversations, one theme reigned supreme: Companies are looking for customers to love the brand, just as much as they love the product. They understand that it’s more important than ever to talk to their customers and understand their needs and pain points rather than innovating for innovation’s sake.
CES proved that anything can be a connected device, from toothbrushes to rubber ducks. The big question, now, is how brands can break through the noise to effectively communicate with their customers in any sort of consistent manner – let alone provide an omni-channel experience. Customer relationships are getting harder to maintain as the proliferation of new technology continues to clutter the customer experience landscape. It’s paramount that brands think about how customer insights can be collected and shared across devices in order to build a product that customers not only want, but love.
The 3,600 exhibitors in attendance proved that product is no longer a sufficient differentiator. In order to really stand out, you need to build a strong customer brand perception into the core of your development, messaging, marketing, and ultimately, engagement. In 2015, the importance of maintaining a focus on the customer cannot be underestimated.
Second, CES reminded me of why I’m in the business of customer communications. Talk about customer love and reciprocal loyalty – our incredible customers made a point to carve out time from their hectic conference schedules to visit our suite, share their feedback, rep our product, and proudly don our t-shirts. Our customers and key partners alike gave us an amazing reception at our customer appreciation dinner at Jaleo Las Vegas – over the best tapas in Vegas, no less!
So to all of our customers I had the privilege of meeting at CES and APPNATION, and to all of our customers I hope to meet at future events and Appy Hours, thank you.
And third, I want to give a shoutout to our friends at Microsoft for hosting the best party in Vegas, hosted by Tiesto himself! Thank you for topping off the CES experience with c-suite executives raging in backpacks and startup tees.
Overall, I had an incredible experience at CES and APPNATION. My only regret is not having enough time to play with the gadgets and meet the incredible entrepreneurs behind them.
But, hey, there’s always #CES2016.