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October 2014

CustomerThink

Today’s interview is with David Mattin, Head of Trends & Insights at TrendWatching, who help over 260,000 subscribers and 1,200+ clients understand the new consumer and uncover innovation opportunities through their reports and trend watching services.

Five key trends that will define the future of customer service

by Adrian Swinscoe

Today’s interview is with David Mattin, Head of Trends & Insights at trendwatching.com, who help over 260,000 subscribers and 1,200+ clients understand the new consumer and uncover innovation opportunities through their reports and trend watching services.

David joins me today to talk about their September 2014 Trend Briefing – The Future Of Customer Service: Five trends that will redefine great service in 2015 and beyond.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Quantifying the business value of a great customer experience – Interview with Peter Kriss of Medallia – and is number 120 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Highlights of my interview with David:

  • The reason that they produced this free report is that their team was seeing a lot of new and interesting customer service innovations.
  • The five key trends are:
    • Plan B – Products that come with their own backup plan. This was inspired by BMW who is selling their i3 electric car (which they know has a limited range) with a service that allows i3 owners the option to rent a petrol car at a discounted rate for when they want to take longer journeys. The key here is that BMW is being honest about the i3’s limitations but are offering a ‘Plan B’ to their customers. Often purchase decisions are driven by an 80:20 ruling where the 20% of use cases dominate any purchase decision. In this case, BMW are saying to their customers – pick a car that fits 80% of your requirements i.e short, urban journeys and we’ll rent you a car at a discounted rate for the 20%.
    • Video Valets – Face time, any time. This is about real-time, video enabled customer service. Bank of America launched this in the US with it’s video chat enabled ATMs right at the beginning of this year. Since then, Amazon has launched their Mayday button on their Kindle Fire tablets. Apparently, average response time for the Amazon Mayday button is 9 secs!
    • Deliver (More Than) The Goods – Delivery. And then some. This is about packaging and delivery service innovation, where brands, particularly in the ecommerce space, who know that delivery and packaging are their only physical contact with the customer and are thus innovating with new things around that. What helped inspired this trend is a Dutch company, Jeans Online, whose courier will wait 15mins while the customer they are delivering to tries on the jeans. If they don’t fit then they hand them back and the courier will take them away. Another example is Russian fashion company, Lamoda, whose couriers also wait for their customers to try clothes on but will also provide fashion advice if they ask for it.
    • Sixth Sense – The customer-focused brand has a new sense: info-sense. This is about brands utilising data to really understand people as people and personalise their service to them.This is often done and expected online but is now reaching the offline world too where companies like the French shopping centre operator: Klépierre have created an Inspiration Tunnel which offers a personalized digital experience in shopping centres/malls, using sophisticated infra-red Kinect cameras that identify the customer and offer up personal recommendations on two digital walls.
    • Politeness Pays – Because good customer service is a two-way street. This is about brands asking or demanding that consumers do their bit to create a good atmosphere in their business. This was inspired by a French cafe that offered discounts to customers that ordered more politely. The cafe in question is the Petite Syrah café in Nice, France. I wrote about this earlier this year in One firm that tells it’s customers ‘Be nice or pay the price’. This trend comes into its own when the experience or behaviour of one customer impacts on the experience of all other customers.
  • David advises business whatever their size to look at these trends, unpack them and think how they can be applied to their business. TrendWatching have a free tool, Consumer Trend Canvas, that can help with that.
  • Dismiss some of these trends too lightly and you run the risk of missing the curve. Just look at the case of Blockbuster, which didn’t pay attention to the video/film/entertainment streaming trend and where are they now?
  • Also, although this is a primarily consumer focused report these trends could easily be applied to B2B industries too.
  • Check out all of the other free content that is available at trendwatching.com.