Josh Bernoff is Senior Vice President, Idea Development at Forrester Research and the co-author of Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business (Harvard Business Review Press, 2010).
We know it’s a brave new world for consumers and brands. If United breaks your guitar, or your Maytag doesn’t work properly, you can take on the company that messed with you via social media — and you may well win.
But technology empowerment works both ways. Consumers can take a stand against poor business practices, and brands can empower their customers like never before.
Mobile is a hotbed of innovation in this department. Point your phone at a restaurant and see if it’s worth an evening out. With the addition of cloud services, you get stuff like the iPhone app from UK car dealer Auto Trader, which can tell you the make, model and the price of used cars just from snapping a license plate photo.
To take it one step further, companies that invest in technology and innovation can not only sell more products with digital tools, but empower their own employees. Below, we’ve highlighted some examples of businesses that are using technology creatively to solve customer issues and spur innovation.