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Targeting Neo-Luddites in the 21st century

While technical innovation has come on leaps and bounds since the early 19th century, these Luddite-inspired trends are still present in the form of the “neo-Luddite”.

By James Nunns

The rapid advancements in technology that we’re seeing in the digital era is bound to continue to grow.

Adam Howatson, CMO at OpenText

However, with change comes resistance from those who don’t agree with technical advancements or shift in lifestyle. The name ‘Luddite’ harks back to the early 19th century, from English textile workers who destroyed weaving machinery as a way of protesting against the ‘deceitful manner’ in which the ‘modern’ machinery was avoiding the standard labour practices.

The fear that technology was threatening their jobs has made Luddites synonymous with the resistance to technology and innovation. This particular fear is something that is still present in modern-day workers, particularly in factories, where automation is a key driver of technical innovation.

While technical innovation has come on leaps and bounds since the early 19th century, these Luddite-inspired trends are still present in the form of the “neo-Luddite”. A neo-Luddite is a person who resists the gradual pull towards a world where digital technology is the norm, rather than an expectation. Although these individuals are not as destructive as the original Luddites were, they still resist modern technology. You may be surprised by how common this way of thinking is.


Targeting modern day Luddites

Our society is gradually being pulled in two different directions. The majority of the public are embracing new digital technologies, which are set to make their busy lives easier and more productive. However, this easy adoption isn’t as digestible for all members of society. It has been found 23% of the British adult population lack the basic digital skills needed for keeping up with the technology present today, let alone the advancements that are set to come. As well as this, a recent report from Blumberg Capital found that only 37% of the British public use an internet banking app more than once a month which is surprising, considering the recent advancements that have emerged from the FinTech sector.

So how do you make sure you are correctly targeting your customers who embrace technology, as well as those who rebel against it? The clue is in the basic rule of customer marketing – you need to go to where your customers are, don’t expect them to come to you. While there has been a surge in advertising though social media and mobile apps, you must remember to not isolate an entire audience who prefer the human contact that only face-to-face or voice interaction allows for. Due to preference differences, it’s vital for organisations to implement a full range of omni-channel capabilities to accommodate all customers, no matter their interaction preferences.

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The omni-channel approach allows organisations to cater for those customers who prefer a well-designed and maintained website experience, compared to those who prefer to use a low-tech, uncomplicated website. A recent report from Aberdeen Group Inc. claims that those organisations that use the omni-channel approach retain 89% of their customers, meaning this strategy allows businesses to reach both digital-savvy customers and those that choose the neo-Luddite lifestyle. An omni-channel solution will allow organisations to create personalised experiences for their customers that give each type of user exactly what they’re looking for at every point of interaction and across every phase of the customer journey. This approach enables businesses to maintain the high-touch, customer-centric service that all customers expect and deserve, whether they’re a neo-Luddite or an early adopter.

Digital transformation initiatives focused on improving customer experience still tend to miss out on implementing ways of tracking and storing a customer’s choices and preferences. Every business needs to capture information across multiple channels, whether the data is coming in from a call centre or in clickstreams from online orders. Businesses have to be able to understand and visualise it all in order to recognise the behavioural patterns needed to deliver a seamless customer experience.

It’s clear the key to a successful omni-channel strategy that targets all types of customers is striking a balance between the digital and traditional methods. Move forward with your digital-savvy customers but don’t forget loyal customers who prefer a slower pace. The modern-day Luddite isn’t going away anytime soon. Stay agile and don’t ignore them. They could end up being the difference between an organisation’s success and failure.

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