2013 will be the year in which we will be able to measure the impact of consumer behaviour on business. A highly mobile, highly service literate customer base has already started driving a new wave of customer service, and businesses must learn to grow and adapt to this with increasing urgency.
As consumer demands evolve, businesses must be agile enough to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace. Those who can, will survive and thrive. Those who can’t may be left behind.
Here’s my list of the top five consumer behaviour trends likely to dominate and influence business in 2013.
2013 will see the continued growth of mobile devices and a desire for more personalised service will become increasingly important. Consumers expect the businesses with whom they have relationships to really know about them: more than just their contact details, customers will expect each and every person they have contact with to understand their history and communication preferences. Through their mobile devices, consumers will also expect to be able to talk with the same person they spoke to last time, or at least not have to repeat the reason for their inquiry to another agent.
As social media becomes a part of everyday life, there is a growing assumption that more and more information will be shared. When somebody updates their social media channels, they expect their friends to know about it. Businesses will also have visibility of this information, in-turn forging closer, more thorough relationships with customers. The divide between public and private will erode further – allowing businesses to develop deeper relationships with their customers through increased communication.
The world is a busy place and life is run at a frantic pace. There is a limited time for anyone to talk with their service providers. Consumers are changing the way they view time – with less patience for delays. The 2013 consumer will no longer tolerate being placed in a queue to wait. More time efficient methods, such as requesting a call back, expected as an option. Smart businesses will understand that most consumers prefer to wait 15 minutes for a call back than wait one minute in a queue.
As consumers gain more and more power and the momentum of consumer driven customer service continues to grow, the more they will expect control. As the control shifts, consumers will become even more demanding! They will not only expect better customer service, but will expect it more quickly, and through any channel they choose. And the customer of 2013 will have less loyalty as a result: those businesses who fail to respond to their demands will be replaced by those who can.
Which leads to the most important consumer behaviour of 2013….
Consumers will flex their right to select their service providers. Consumers are no longer loyal to their service provider for the sake of it. Any bad experience or change in the market can lead to consumers looking for a better deal. With web based services such as comparison sites, group purchasing etc, consumers are more informed and therefore more selective about the purchases they make.
So what’s my advice to businesses looking to increase market share in 2013? Just one thing: Focus on the customer and what they want. Don’t assume – ask them. And then deliver.