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5 Trends for 2013: What Matters for the Customer Experience?

Posted by Christine B. Whittemore on Dec 19, 2012 9:45:00 AM

This is a 6 minute read.
Grandmother predictions

What do you think matters for the customer experience in 2013? Which trends will gather momentum in the new year?

Here are my top 5 trends for 2013.

1. The Customer Experience is Still About People

As important as data and analytics are for understanding what works and doesn't work when trying to connect with customers, it's also really important to remember that customers are people and numbers don't always fully capture the people part of social interactions. 

What that means is that data is your opportunity to delight customers rather than antogonize them (e.g., How to Lose IBM Customers: Preposterous Verizon Customer Experience and How Not To Get More Business: 7 eMail Retail Experience Horrors!).

Data allows a business to be smarter as Trendwatching's 10 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2013 highlights in the Data Myning Trend:

"In 2013 expect savvy shoppers to start reversing the flow, as consumers seek to own and make the most of their lifestyle data, and turn to brands that use this data to proactively offer customers help and advice on how to improve their behavior and/ or save money..."

Spend time understanding your customer. Give her choices so she can manage the relationship. Let her decide how many promotional emails to receive. Delight her with how observant and pro-active you are. Make her happy (see Happiness and Customer Experience: Interview with Bernd Schmitt). 

2. Simplify the Customer Experience

Let's face it: we are all in information overload. If you've spent time understanding your customer, you'll have a good idea what specifically contributes to her overload. You'll ensure that you never send too many communications and you'll go out of your way to simplify your customer's experience.

Simplicity brings meaning, it builds loyalty and it creates happiness. (See Simplicity Matters in Brand Marketing: BRITE Conference 2012.)

In 5 Trends That Will Shape Digital Services In 2013, you'll notice two simplifying trends: 

  • K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, Stupid) - How good old-fashioned K.I.S.S. principles are making a comeback and 
  • A Personal Shopper For Everybody - The coming revolution in retail

Here's what the article describes re: the coming retail revolution: 

"The key to retail success lies in creating experiences that make customers feel better. A shopping experience that feels smarter or easier can be more valuable for many customers than simply getting the best deal. Key factors that ensure success are increasingly going to be based on recognition, recommendation, follow-through, and support. Services like Intuit GoPayment and PayPal Here (both of which Fjord helped to design) are already revolutionizing commerce for small retailers by simplifying payment, and the next natural step is to offer digital customer relationship management for these small merchants.

Shop staff will increasingly be equipped with tablets or smartphones to deliver improved individual service, and opt-in location-based services will help customers find precisely what they’re looking for, when they’re looking to buy, and will enable them to pay on the spot without queuing. Virtual shops, in other words, will also take hold in the physical world."

(Definitely read the entire article; you'll enjoy it!)

3. Quality is Better than Quantity in the Customer Experience

Yes, we live in a frenzied environment where the pressure to add Twitter followers and Facebook fans is intense. However, quality still trumps quantity, just as passion is better than lukewarm reaction. Passion is hard to generate with large numbers.

The new consumer zeitgeist prefers less stuff, favoring higher quality over cheaper disposible items. Read through Sustainable Brands London's Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability which draws on the views of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States to reveal new market trends.

The first trend the report details is Rethinking Consumption: Consuming Less. Consuming Better. More specifically, "nearly two-thirds of respondents across six markets (66%) say thatas a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations,” and 65% say they feel “a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society.

4. Unplugging Makes for Perspective on Customer Experience 

In Business Innovation and Creativity Via John Cleese, Cleese makes the point that creativity requires periods of intense focus - without interruptions, without being always on. Creativity demands that you unplug.

Unplugging is somewhat controversial given a trend such as Mobile Moments from Trendwatching's 10 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2013 which states "For those wondering where ‘mobile’ will head next, one behavioral insight should give you plenty to run with: in 2013, consumers will look to their mobile devices to maximize absolutely every moment, multi-if-not-hypertasking their experiences, purchases and communications..."

At the same time, we can't sustain being always-on which means that at some point our mobile device with ensure that we do so on a regular basis. 

In the meantime, there's the unplug mat described in this article by DANIELE FIANDACA: WHY WE NEED TO DISCONNECT IN THE WORKPLACE to address head on the "constant connectivity (which) is turning into a malaise of digital dependency."

Check out the JWT social trend called adult recess...  

5. Don't Ever Forget About Trust

Trust remains critically important to the customer experience. We see it in the value customers place on reviews and ratings; their desire to understand the big picture from peers - known and unknown - before making a purchase. My favorite quote about trust comes from Ford Report Finds Opportunities In Social Shifting, which says about trust "First on the list is trust, or "trust is the new black.

Finally, tweet worthy pearls of wisdom quotes from Lessons For 2013: Business Wisdom From Airbnb To Zappos. Here are my favorites:

  • For any consumer brand today, it is incumbent upon the company to create relevancy. @Starbucks #lessons2013
  • Listen to your customer both in person and online, & make changes to fine-tune the experience.@RevelResorts #lessons2013
  • In 2013, I'm going to take one day a month to visit non-technology companies to get inspiration. @clarashih #lessons2013
  • It's very easy to think that you are the expert on your own product. The true experts are your customers. @JamieJWong #lessons2013 

What do you think of these 5 customer experience trends? What would you add? And why?


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Image Credit: Grandmother Predictions on Flickr.

Topics: customer experience

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