Most companies have now realized that if they want to grow they need to know their customers and so this has led to a range of new sharing and subscription services driven by customer-facing technology. As someone who works in business development I find this really exciting! Today, this landscape of services is a veritable maze of offerings, many of which are local.
In Norway, where I live, we have the electric scooter brands Ryde and Zvipp trying to compete with the bigger players like Circ and Lime. Nabobil, which has since been bought out by the American company Getaround, competes with GreenMobility by Vy in car sharing services, a segment that will see increased competition from the flourishing business of car subscription models and OEMs.
PayIQ, a TaaS solution developed by a Finnish company, plans to consolidate the entire digital customer experience of travelling from A to Z, offering events, bike/car rental and train/bus rides, all in one platform.
Customer experience is the main driver for growth
In the Nordics we also have companies in the parking segment looking into EV-charging, loyalty programmes and other value-add services they can include in their customer marketplace to give a seamless customer journey.
As an example, EasyPark’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz means that consumers can now start and stop their parking directly from their car. Customer Experience is no longer just a side event to product development. It’s the main driver for growth!
All of the companies I’ve mentioned place product development and customer experience at the heart of everything they do; however, there is one thing that contradicts this. They all want to have their own customer interface, because they want to expose their brands whilst still having access to consumer data.
The battle between customer convenience and data
So what’s the bigger picture in all this? And how does it impact the consumer? Well, it presents us with a lot of options. Speaking for myself, I sometimes feel like I am overloading my phone with apps, and use too much time downloading and setting up new apps or marketplaces, which I will probably only use once or twice.
I’m definitely a user who contributes to the short user-retention periods that big tech is experiencing. To mitigate this, big tech is consolidating more and more services on their marketplaces, reducing the need for several apps and countless user registrations. As a consumer, I love it! But as a product manager, I see it as a risk: the risk of losing insight into my customers.
Rumour also has it that big players are consolidating and creating consortiums for consumer marketplaces, the goal being open source platforms that all companies can utilise. Exactly how unbiased these consortiums ultimately are, in terms of their owner’s agenda, is a potential subject for another blog post.
I have no doubt that the battle between customer convenience and data insight will certainly define the fate of a lot of companies in the future. One thing is clear, for a company to develop their products, they will need to own the customer marketplace they sell their product in. The challenge is going to be actually getting users to that marketplace and keeping them there.