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.

Posted on December 9, 2011 and filed under Customer Experience, Service Design.