Customer Experience Trends for 2012 – Part 2

2012 is fast approaching. To make sure your customer experience resolutions are more practical this time around, we are providing you with our thoughts on some customer trends in 2012.

Trendwatching.com have put together “12 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2012”. This provided a brief overview of 12 “must-know” consumer trends to assist companies in exploring creative and innovation opportunities to meet the changing needs of the consumer.

Last week we brought to your attention, the customer trend of ‘red carpet’ – where businesses personalises their service offerings to make customers believe they are individually valued by the company. The next consumer trend of great value to service design is ‘Dealer Chic’.

Dealer Chic is a consumer trend which suggests that customers are becoming conditioned to expect deals for everything.

Remember the time you waxed lyrical to a friend about your gastronomic experience at Kobe Jones. Your colleagues’ jealousy made you feel proud and superior… right up until the time your mate agreed on how good it was and added in the fact that he used a voucher, which brought his bill down to half the embarrassing total you paid.

Securing the best deal is becoming a ‘way of life’ and a way in which customers gain pride and status. There is no longer the need to hide one’s Chinatown-style haggling abilities; rather it is becoming a source of status and perceived smartness.

The ‘deal ecosystem’ has grown exponentially over the past few years. But you also know that deal hunting has become a more mundane exercise when you and your friends are no longer religiously ‘jumping on it’, looking for the best ‘Ouffer’ and anticipating your daily scoop—‘scoopon’.

What this trend is indicating is that the deal-driven market is now maturing before our eyes, the excitement over the daily deal is quieting down and consumers can very conveniently access most organisation’s prices and reviews online. For this reason most customers are only interested in genuine deals where the price is not only ridiculously discounted BUT also provides superior merchandise and a high quality service experience.

In 2012, more than ever before, customers will become more deal-savvy. “Over 40% of coupon ‘enthusiasts’ now have a household income of over USD $70,000 (Source: Neilsen, April 2010)”— people who are seeking deals are savvy, sophisticated and experienced. So trying to use a deal to trick or mislead customers to come through your doors will remain a short and destructive business strategy.

Why? Because both first- time and experienced customers are merciless and willing to exercise their deadly weapon of word-of-mouth upon any company who fails to deliver the entire experience – products + service. At the same time these deal-savvy customers generate a large volume of negative reviews: a ratings nose-dive and limited referrals if the experience isn’t up to scratch.

Another problem that arises here is that whilst organisations and brands attempt to leverage the “deal a day” strategy to create new business – they are unable to convert first time customers into long term, loyal repeat customers which ultimately is the main goal of providing a deal.  This means not only you lose your opportunity to drive revenue by providing the deal, but it also costs the organisation even more by having potentially loyal customers crowded out by the volume of first-time-and-last-time customers.

What this trend really means for those in the customer experience businesses is that, gone are the days where a great deal amounts to just having a no-frills customer experience or where a large discount excuses an awful customer experience. In 2012, great deals will not only need to give customers a “great” deal, but the ‘great deal’ will need to provide customers with an “even-greater experience” to realistically turn a deal into a longer term customer and hence profit opportunity.

Organisations that rely on one major customer touchpoint to provide this “even- greater” experience will find themselves coming up short. In order for the experience to be “even-greater”, customers will expect all points of contact with the organisation to be delivered in an “outstanding” way. This will require organisations to surpass the customer expectations at key touchpoints on either side of the transaction itself.

By way of example, the discounted package of home and car insurance provides the basis for a positive customer experience. However what will create loyal and raving fans won’t be the agreeing to terms of the contract rather it will be; the ten-second wait on the phone to the operator, the warm greeting from a customer service representative, the correct information when requested and a valuable follow-up phone call. That’s what makes the “even-greater experience”.

The next trend that we will be talking about is ‘flawsome’ where customers appreciate brands which are honest about their flaws.

In the meantime, below is an excerpt from the trendwatching article

3. DEALER-CHIC

For consumers, securing the best deals is fast becoming a way of life, if not a source of pride and status.

Image courtesy of thinkcvox

Deal hunting has become an integral part of daily life for millions of consumers. Yes, there are many new

and innovative ways in which brands are using promotions and offers, but consumer attitudes to discounts

and deals are what’s really changing.

Obviously, consumers have always loved getting good deals or exclusive rewards, but rather than having to

hide one’s haggling, securing the best deal is now accepted, if not admired by one’s fellow consumers. In

fact, it’s now about more than just saving money: it’s the thrill, the pursuit, the control, and the perceived

smartness, and thus a source of status too. Just three reasons why DEALER-CHIC is set to get bigger and

bigger in 2012:

•          MORE FOR LESS: While many people in developed economies may have less money to spend right now, consumers everywhere will forever look to experience more.

•          THE MEDIUM IS THE MOTIVATION: Consumers are now being alerted to, using, reusing and sharing offers and deals via new (and therefore infinitely more exciting and attractive) technologies.

•          BEST OF THE BEST: With instant mobile or online access to not only deals but reviews as well, consumers can now be confident they’re getting the best price for the best product or service.

If you would like to read more about ‘Dealer-Chic’ as a trend for 2012, please press

http://trendwatching.com/trends/12trends2012/?dealerchic One of the world’s leading trend firms, trendwatching.com sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide in 9 languages.

Customer Experience Trends for 2012

It’s that time of the year when you start to draft your New Year resolutions and you want to have a glimpse of what’s ahead to make sure that this time around the resolutions are achievable.

Trendwatching.com have put together “12 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2012”. They provided a brief overview of 12 “must-know” consumer trends to assist companies in exploring creative and innovation opportunities to meet the changing needs of the consumer.

The top 5 consumer trends that we found most relevant to the customer experience are:

  1. Red Carpet
  2. Dealer-Chic
  3. Flawsome
  4. Emerging Maturialism
  5. Point & Know

One of the first consumer trends we thought relevant was— ‘red carpet’

Red carpet as a trend is explained as when businesses tailor their services and perks to pamper customers with (an individual-level of) attention and respect.

I think what they are trying to say is that the customer experience is a highly subjective experience. The customer touchpoints that offers this experience can be identified and staged but the human element at each touchpoint puts a ‘one-size-fits-all’ design out of the question.

If it’s not ‘one-size-fits-all’, then there must be some sort of customisation? So, the key to providing an engaging and memorable moment is through…personalisation. Personal connections can be established when you treat customers like humans and be human when you are serving them as well.

To roll out the ‘red carpet’, you will need to provide your service with personality.

The customer experience is ultimately the ‘sum-totality of how customers engage with your company…throughout the entire arc of being a customer’.

I think what this trend really means is that all customers enjoy being greeted by the ‘red carpet’ and in competitive times, customers, more than ever before; take pleasure in receiving individual attention from you. Customisation and personalisation drives individual customer satisfaction, consequently enhancing the customer experience quality.

You need to help customers feel that they are receiving individual attention, without compromising your productivity goals. The logic of this is described in the concept of ‘mass customisation’ (introduced by Pine 1993) where firms need to strike a balance between standardisation (for productivity reasons) and customisation (for customer satisfaction reasons).

Your job is to make customers believe that the ‘red carpet’ is a unique arrangement for them to individually enjoy, whilst you can safely report to your boss that the carpet is simply a welcome mat resting at the entrance of the company.

Or another way of saying it is to appear as though you are only killing one bird with one stone.

In our next blog post we will be discussing the consumer trend of ‘Dealer-Chic’ where the consumers’ desire for discounts and deals has become a way of life, consequently playing a key role in the customer experience.

In the mean time, here is an excerpt from the trendwatching article.

1. RED CARPET

In 2012, businesses around the world will shower Chinese customers and visitors with even more tailored services and perks, and in general, lavish attention and respect.

China is the new emperor, and outpaced companies, flailing nations and even broke monetary unions are looking to the Chinese to bail them out. No wonder red carpets are being rolled out wherever Chinese politicians and CEOs currently set foot. In 2012’s global consumption arena we see a similar picture: department stores, airlines, hotels, theme parks and museums, if not entire cities, around the world are going out of their way to shower Chinese customers with tailored services and perks, and in general, lavish them with attention and respect.

Some stats:

  • Chinese residents made over 30 million overseas trips in the first half of 2011 alone, up 20% since 2010. For comparison, US citizens made only 37 million outbound air travel trips during the whole of 2010 (Source: China Ministry of Public Security, July 2011; Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, September 2011).
  • And that’s just the beginning: The World Tourism Organization has estimated that the total number of outbound tourists from China will reach 100 million by 2020.

Count on Indians and Brazilians to be on the receiving end of the RED (OR ORANGE OR GREEN) CARPET trend too. Some examples:

  • In July 2011, Hilton Hotels Worldwide created a service targeting Chinese travelers. Called “Hilton Huanying” (Mandarin for “welcome”), the program is available at 30 Hilton hotels across the world, and offers tailored assistance for Chinese guests, including check-in in their native language and in-room facilities such as Chinese tea and television channels, as well as slippers and a welcome letter in Mandarin. There’s also a breakfast buffet available, with congee, dim sum and fried noodles on the menu.

If you would like to read more about ‘Red carpet’ as a trend for 2012, please press http://trendwatching.com/trends/12trends2012/?redcarpet  One of the world’s leading trend firms, trendwatching.com sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide in 9 languages.