After attending VOC vendor Rant & Rave’s CX Day during National Customer Service Week, Moira Clark explains how technology is shaping consumer behaviour and why different generations want different experiences.
Consumer behaviour is changing. With 1 in 5 consumers now using social media to complain about a product or service, today’s customer is more empowered than ever, with 66 million complaints made about products and services in 2014 – a figure that has almost doubled in the last 12 months.
At the same time, today’s consumers are more fragmented than ever before, using a plethora of communication channels and buying options, as well as becoming more aware of how marketing gimmicks attempt to manipulate. In order to provide the best service, brands must learn to understand their customers, acknowledge their differences and provide a service that is tailored to them.
The Generation Game – a lowdown
One of the key things for brands to keep in mind is the stark generational differences apparent in consumer behaviour.
- The Silent Generation – shaped by great depression and WW2, those born from 1925-44 are driven by the waste not want not work ethic, and putting duty before pleasure. This group expect great service, and a level of formality
- The workaholic ‘Baby Boomers’ are team focused, like to be in control, hold 75% of the wealth in the UK, and are responsible for 50% of all consumer spending. They appreciate and pay extra for additional service
- Generation X, born from 1965-89, is not scared of failure, and value experiences ad relationships. They are concept loyal, not brand loyal and want immediate gratification. They like self-service customer support and shopping online
- Those born from 1990, Generation Y, are optimistic, confident and globally aware. For this group, customer to customer interaction is the most important, rather than business to consumer. Brands must facilitate engagement through technology if they want to target this group, through building relationships and providing them with a comprehensive self-service option for support
Technology is shaping consumer behaviour, as consumers now prefer to access self-service, live chat and mobile support rather than the outmoded contact centre. In fact 44% of consumers said they would like to use a mobile app to support in store shopping. The future of the contact centre may well be that they become upskilled – with consumers only going to them if they need to discuss a complex issue.
The quality of service is the most important function in the social age, with the golden rules for brands being:
- When consumers know more they buy more – use your customer support to educate customers, empowering them to support others and feel more engaged with your product
- Data analytics is a must have – using data will help you to engage further with customers, targeting them according to their preferences and tailoring their experience to suit
- Service is still the killer app – Despite the advancements in technology, the most important thing is still the service that accompanies it
Essentially, customers expect immediacy, omnipresence, interaction, transparency, proactive service and customisation. Companies who are matching with what customers want are those who are succeeding across the generations.
Moira Clark is Professor of Strategic Marketing at Henley Business School and Director of The Henley Centre for Customer Management.