Two Hoyts customer service representatives

Customer Experience Trends for 2012 - Part 2 13 Dec 2011

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

DEALER-CHIC

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

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:

Read more about ‘Dealer-Chic’ as a trend for 2012 here.

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