What Are The 7 Customer Service Trends For 2012 That Any Professional In The Field Of Communications Should Learn?
With the advent of social media, customers have become the voice of the brand. With all communication, professionals need to think of the customer as having a seat at the boardroom table. Whether your focus is marketing, advertising, corporate communications or public relations, any business has to think of what the customers would say about whatever you plan to do. Conducting comprehensive consumer research prior to any campaign is more essential than ever. 2012 will see significant trends in consumer behavior that every business needs to consider.”
7 Customer Service Trends to watch and leverage in 2012 are as follows:
1. Engaging the Whole Family. Many young family members have become equally or even more knowledgeable than their parents about what products are available in the marketplace, because children as young as three and four are using computers, tablets and smart phones. Social networks play an increasingly more important role in the product review process. These changes will necessitate businesses to engage the entire family on multiple platforms to ensure that children, as well as parents, feel welcomed and that their opinions are valued.
2. Bringing Eco into Daily Dialog: While companies have been focusing on eco-friendly products for a number of years, a higher percentage of consumers will be looking to shop at businesses that understand the importance of being “green”, and that have products and services to match. Companies that provide comprehensive environmental education to their front-line associates, to ensure that the company’s ecology polices are incorporated into daily dialog with consumers of all ages, will be rewarded with increased sales and loyalty.
3. Being Social: Social Media allows customers to be the voice of service delivery and amplifies their message exponentially. Via social media postings on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc., customers will continue to be more and more vocal about service and products. Companies that understand, engage and monitor this activity will thrive.
4. Influencing the Social Masses: Key influencers on Social Media will be targeted in even greater numbers by brands to introduce (and endorse) products and services to their communities. It will become increasingly important for businesses to be transparent in these efforts.
5. Offering More Language Options: With one in four births being of Latino origin, significantly more companies will begin to offer toll free numbers, bi-lingual representatives, websites, instructions, directions, etc., in both Spanish and English. Even though the majority of Latinos living in the U.S. speak English, they feel more welcomed when the company offers them a language choice.
6. Opting Out Options: Companies who elect to use mobile technology to interact with consumers by offering them real-time, geo-location based discounts, coupons, etc., will offer instant opt-out options and address privacy issues or customers will not allow them to continue to interrupt their daily activities.
7. Checking Out: Self-service checkout counters will continue to increase, but companies should understand that frequently the front-line associates located at the checkout counters may be the only human contact opportunity they have with the consumer. Many astute retail businesses will turn the checkout counter into a welcome station and the entire checkout experience will be transformed from a robotic factory line encounter into one that makes customers feel that they are being treated as people.
Don’t forget to thank your own clients (external or internal) at the end of every phone call or meeting. No one wants to feel that their business is being taken for granted. The way to retain clients over the long run is to ensure communications professionals build strong customer/supplier bonds with each individual contact on the client team. Not doing so leaves your company vulnerable to the next competitor that hangs their sign on the door.