Are You Ready for the Consumer of 2020? - Allison Wilson - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
While it’s impossible to know what the future holds, one thing that is certain is that a lot can change in five years. Especially when you consider the rapid rate at which technology has transformed our everyday lives since 2010.
Many predict that consumer habits will change more in the next five years than they have in the last five. Niall Ferguson, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, believes that the speed of innovation is linked to the total number of people on the planet. As the population keeps on growing, so does the rate of technological innovation.
As a result, many businesses have become victims of “digital Darwinism.” This is where technology and society evolve faster than an organization can adapt.
While technology may be evolving at a much quicker rate than the evolution of mankind, there is one similarity – it’s not the strongest or fittest that survive in this situation, but the most adaptable.
So, is your business ready to adapt to the consumer of 2020? Here, we look at some of the disruptive technologies changing consumer expectations and how you can adapt.
The changing consumer
For an idea of how things have changed, The Vivaldi Always-On Consumer Report demonstrates the dramatic shift towards a more “connected” lifestyle. The “always on” consumer is defined as someone who uses at least three connected devices every day and goes online several times from multiple locations. The report showed how the number of consumers with these digital habits in the US rose from 25% of the population in 2010 to 48% in 2014. And this will only continue to rise in the years to come.
Behind the rise of the “always on” consumer are several disruptive technologies or trends, such as the smartphone, social media and omni-channel. These trends have effectively “opened up” the world. Activities such as working, shopping and socializing are no longer limited to a time or location. The result is an “always on” culture, where consumers expect everything to be available all the time.
Here are three technologies disrupting consumer habits:
- The growth of mobile technology
The shift from a computer you kept in your office or home to a smartphone that goes everywhere with you is huge. The convenience of this on-the-go technology has changed the way we access the internet forever. In early 2014, we’d already reached a point where internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC usage.
As the way we browse becomes increasingly mobile, businesses not only need to ensure their mobile site and app is up to scratch but also that it’s easy to get in touch on a mobile. In the next five years, the trend towards mobile browsing and communications only looks set to grow, with wearable technology taking it to the next level.
- Social media raises expectations
While the principles of customer service stay the same, consumer expectations have been raised by social media.
According to research by American Express, 83% of consumers that use social media to interact with a business haven’t completed a purchase due to poor service. Whereas, just 49% of non-social media customers would give up on a purchase due to poor service, showing that using social media regularly changes the level of service you expect from a brand.
Plus, the very nature of social media has led to a shift in expectations. With live updates, breaking news and instant responses from friends and family, social media has sped up the time consumers expect it to take a brand to respond, so it’s no surprise that 66% of consumers expect a response to a query on the same day and over 40% expect a response within an hour. Over the next few years, this will only grow and contact centers need to be ready to adapt and deliver a better and faster service.
- Omni-channel lifestyle
Consumers now use a huge range of channels to communicate with friends, and of course, brands. But all these extra channels should be convenient for the consumer, and if you can’t join them up, it doesn’t work. There is no convenience in having to repeat your problem or question every time you get in touch.
Research by NewVoiceMedia found that 60% of consumers now change their contact channel depending on where they are and what they’re doing – and this only looks set to rise in the next five years.
Businesses need to be able to track a conversation as it hops from Twitter to their call center and on to whatever new communication channel has become popular in 2020.
How to be ready for the consumer of 2020
One of the key ways a business can prepare for the next five years is to ensure their company is adaptable. So, for instance, businesses need to have the right technology, infrastructure and processes in order to adapt to changes in the digital world. From a popular new app to a new social network or device, such as wearables, the way consumers interact with your brand could change in lots of ways – and adapting quickly is essential.
The rise of the “customer engagement” department
With consumers demanding a joined-up approach to all communications with a brand, it’ll soon become impractical to have two departments that deal with customer experience.
Marketing and customer service have long been two very separate departments, each with their own role in the customer lifecycle. Marketing attracts customers during the initial awareness stage and customer service deals with the everyday problems facing customers.
In the same way the customer service team’s agenda is set by whatever customers call about, real life customers should dictate the marketing team’s agenda too. NewVoiceMedia predicts that marketing and customer service will join forces by 2020 to tackle the growing demands of the connected customer.
This shift will see the call center becoming an integral part of business strategy, acting as a relationship hub.
A call center supported by a scalable cloud-based solution
Alongside changes to how your organization is structured, businesses need to ensure that their team is backed up by scalable contact center technology. As technology develops to give consumers greater efficiency, convenience and more personalized experiences, it raises what consumers expect from a brand. Look for tools that can improve your customer data collection. Streamline preference collection and minimalize customer effort. Deploy applications that can quickly transform data into prescriptive suggestions.
These are just a few ways implementing the right technology can help you prepare for the consumer of 2020. Keeping an eye toward the future will ensure your business is not only adaptable, but also innovative in leading change and setting trends for many decades to come.
Publish Date: July 6, 2017 8:21 PM