In a recent article I read by PWC, they refer to the current generation as digital natives – i.e. people bought up with computers. As a father of two, who are rapidly becoming more dexterous on the keyboard than myself, this got me thinking. Today they are learning, in 10 years they are the entrepreneurs, managers and leaders of the future. So how does a business today prepare for this changing consumer base?

Weaned on e-commerce and 24 hour rolling news and sport, the expectation of rapid service and gratification is huge – just look at the proliferation of businesses built around ordering take away on your phone and getting them delivered ASAP (Just Eat, Deliveroo…etc) as an example of the expectation of today’s consumer. Is it time to overlay business wisdom and models with some “Essential E’s” of the electronic age:

EASY – consumers need to be able to find you (online or offline) and work out how you can help them achieve their aims.

EFFICIENT & EFFECTIVE – quickly assimilate what you offer, and make a decision on next step – whether a purchase of a product on line, or a secondary contact step (phone call, Skype, Twitter, Linked In connection or many more).

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS – no matter how a customer transacts with your business, they want to receive great service. To paraphrase Harvey Mackay, “Say what you will do, Do what you say, Deliver more than you Promise”.

So with these in mind, is there still time for traditional business values? Meeting up? Shaking hands on deals face to face? Spending time talking to customers on the phone? In short, yes, if that is what the particular customer appreciates.

In other words, by all means embrace technology to position your services and goods, prepare to deal with the digital natives, but the basis of customer service excellence remains – understand their needs, define expectations, over-deliver. In this way, you will make it hard for them to leave to go to a competitor.

Ian Pilkington

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