Are we ready for the rise of the untethered customer? Blog update #ukhousing

“What is a smartphone anyway?” I was asked by a colleague this week. I broke into a cold sweat. Especially as it was during a meeting about digital inclusion.

If this is the kind of question you hear asked often, you need to start worrying. Now.

I love working in housing. Genuinely. But whilst we debate whether the Right to Buy is a a good thing, what level of Affordable Rent is affordable  – we miss out on some things that maybe , just maybe , we should be talking about as well.

Such as. We are in the midst of a revolution in the way customers interact and engage with us – the likes of which we have never seen before in the history of the human race.

Is that enough hyperbole for you?

In his book “The Third Screen – Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile” , Chuck Martin introduces the concept of a customer who is untethered – literally let loose – from the restrictions previously placed on them by service providers.

The development of smartphone technology and digital mobility will usher in an era where the customer – not the company – is in control. Access on the go. When the customer wants it. Error Free. No Delay. 24/7

And its already happening.

Are we ready for a distracted customer who values their mobile more than they value television or food? Don’t be dismissive of that by the way – you have probably already glanced at a mobile device in the past hour. Or you are reading from one right now.

Some questions we need to ask ourselves.

  • There are more mobile phones in the UK than people. But how much time do we spend talking about mobile solutions compared with people problems?
  • Actual quote for you. “The problem with old people – those over 21 – is they still use email”. Are we prepared for doing business with a generation conditioned to 24hour SMS and Social Media communication?
  • How does a landlord integrate themselves in a customers social network stream? Do we want to?
  • What does a Skype debt management intervention look like?  Or ASB interview ? Live at midnight on a Saturday – as  it occurs.
  • How can Social Learning Communities get a tenant ready to cope with their first home, reduce repairs expenditure or aid greater access to employment and volunteering?
  • In a world post Google Wallet – how can Smart phones fulfill other everyday functions? Door-keys? Top up Utility Meters?
  • What about  Communities led by (tenant) digital champions? The housing version of  the TripAdvisor “destination experts”?
The advent of Smartphone technology and the untethered mobile customer offers us unprecedented opportunities to engage with customers in a way we never have before.

Ignore them and they will ignore us.

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