The New Customer Contract

  • Your customers will pay a premium for products if they believe they’ll get a good experience.

  • The customer contract is an agreement that delivers a desired and reciprocal experience between customers and enterprises.

Customers are more connected and informed than any other generation before them. In many ways, they know too much. They can find anything about what they need anytime, anywhere, on any device. In the process, they are bypassing legacy processes and waypoints, otherwise known as the funnel, redefining and hacking the customer journey as you designed it. That’s right. All that technology, creative marketing, high-powered conversion tools, and CRM systems are becoming ineffective or obsolete.

Beyond digital literacy however, an interesting phenomenon has materialized as a result of pervasive connectedness. Your customers have grown impatient, and demanding—none of this in a bad way of course. They are empowered. They are influential. Their behaviors aren’t the only thing changing, so are their values and what it is they want to purchase and why. Your customers want more than a product, they want an experience, they want you to know who they are, and they want a promise that you won’t forget how important they are to your enterprise.

Sound selfish? Think about it from their perspective.

Until recently, great service, products and, ultimately, experiences were the exception rather than the rule. Now, customers will gladly pay a premium for products if they believe they’ll get a good experience. In their mind, they deserve it. And as such, it’s their reality.

No one wants to be marketed to. No one wants to be deceived. And, no one wants to be made to feel like they’re faceless.

Everybody thinks they’re the special snowflakes in the blizzard of commerce. And they are.

This is why it’s time for a new customer contract. If we base it on the premise of social contract theory, we can get an idea of how to engage this new generation of connected customers, or Generation-C as I refer to them, to forge more productive, lucrative, and mutually beneficial relationships.

Social contract theory is the view that persons’ moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live. As such, the new customer contract is the agreement between customers and enterprises whereby products, services, and engagement throughout the customer lifecycle deliver a desired and reciprocal experience. These experiences and interactions define the nature, meaning and value of the community (aka society) in which they co-exist and co-create.

Like connected customers, businesses too have access to information and data to learn about what’s different and what’s possible. It just takes a different perspective to see things differently. It also takes courage to try things differently. We just have to make the case among people who insist on doing things the way they’ve always been done. Easier said than done, I know. But data is your ally. It will help you make the case. It will help you visualize the opportunity beyond the profits or losses your business is experiencing today. If you can’t do it, partner with someone in your enterprise who can.

Think like the customer. Then act like the business you are.

Learn more about collaborating with your customers more efficiently, using AT&T Unified Communications solutions.


Brian Solis is the author of the book, What’s The Future of Business. He is also a principal analyst at Altimeter Group. All opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.


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