5 ways to prepare for the consumer of tomorrow

23rd Nov 2016

Less than 15 years ago, online shopping had yet to take off and your target consumers were happy to research and buy products at bricks and mortar stores. In the age of social media, smartphones and self-service, things are very different.

Today’s customers are screen-addicted, hyper-connected and harder to please than ever. To help you keep up with their sky-high expectations moving forward, here are five ways your company can improve its service offering for the customer of tomorrow.

#1 Connect with omni-channel shoppers

From tablets to wearable tech, consumers now use an average of five connected devices to research, compare and purchase products. This means if you concentrate all your marketing efforts on just a handful of channels, you’re in danger of distancing yourself from tomorrow’s customer.

Customers will increasingly expect joined-up experiences across all devices. To solve problems, they will want to find information for themselves. And when that’s not possible, they will want human-to-human contact with a business to be personalised to their needs.

To be successful in this evolving context, it’s crucial that your business is omni-channel ready. As a result, it’s essential your CMS has the flexibility to deliver enticing, seamless, consistent and contextual experiences across all channels.

#2 Embrace word-of-mouth marketing in the digital age

A recent study by Ogilvy, Google and TNS revealed that 74 percent of people count word-of-mouth as the key influence in their buying decision process. Marketers can spend millions on carefully crafted campaigns, but consumers will always believe the opinion of a trusted source more.

Think about it: how often do you discuss a purchase with friends or family, ask for advice or share your experiences about a company or product online? In the digital age, social media has massively increased the scope and reach of word-of-mouth marketing, so it’s crucial that you make your business as easy to share as possible.

Encouraging user-generated reviews and adding sharing buttons to your e-commerce site are ways you can easily encourage customers to share their experiences of your business. But you can go a step further like Dettol, who created a word-of-mouth marketing campaign focused on super-influencers to increase their sales in China by 86 percent.

#3 The need for speed

Thanks to study by Microsoft, we now know that our attention spans are shorter than that of a goldfish. Accelerated at least in part by the popularity of smartphones, as a species, humans no longer have the patience to wait for anything.

A growing number of retailers now offer same-day delivery at the touch of a button. Smartphone apps mean we can order a cab, food or a table at a restaurant in seconds. If you don’t find a way to marry quality with speed of service your competitors will, and that will leave you trailing in their wake.

#4 Be available 24/7

Today’s customers are always on and always connected, which means they expect your business to be the same. Research indicates that 42 percent of consumers who make complaints through social media expect a response within the hour – and it’s the same at evenings and weekends.

To cope with the demand for 24/7 availability, businesses will need to develop excellent ‘social listening’ skills. For instance, monitoring social mentions will allow you pick up on all types of feedback – good as well as bad – and reply accordingly.

You can also help customers help themselves by hosting how-to content on your site and creating extensive automated support packages. If you can help customers find their own solutions, you’ll reduce their need to pick up the phone or tweet a complaint significantly.

#5 Find the right balance between man and machine

Technology has helped automate customer service, but there’s a limit to how much you should rely on it. The golden rule should be: use machines when it benefits customers; use humans when a personal interaction matters most.

As touched upon above, when customers want service with a human touch, they want it genuine, useful and personal. In a recent study, NewVoiceMedia discovered that while the number of people using social media to contact companies is growing, 45 percent of people still believe that calling a company is the most effective way to solve a problem.

Despite the increasing demand for do-it-yourself service, there will always be customers who prefer speaking to a real person. For this reason, ensuring your business includes a well-run contact centre within an omni-channel approach will go a long way to keeping the shoppers of tomorrow happy.

Find out more about future-proofing your business in the digital world by downloading NewVoiceMedia's whitepaper, ‘Disruptive customer care: how to do It every day’. Got any thoughts on how businesses can prepare for the customer of tomorrow? Share them below.

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