This year is the 40th anniversary of the classic 1978 sci-fi movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And you could be forgiven for half-thinking there's a modern parallel happening in the customer contact arena.
For years, companies thought they knew their customers. Over time, a picture built up and customer profiles were established, thanks to layers of helpful data. Behavior was fairly easy to plan for and predict. Customers were generally easy to manage. And any fine-tuning within contact centres could be ironed out by training, improved IVRs and new tech.
But within a very short space of time, customers have changed. And it's been dramatic ... almost at body snatcher-like proportions.
Less ET, more super-human
In the 1970s movie starring Donald Sutherland and Jeff Goldblum, people were replaced by alien duplicates, devoid of emotion.
However, in today's world, the reverse is true. People can't wait to express how they feel, often noisily — to their friends, to your agents, and to the Internet at large. They feel empowered, like super-humans, ready to unleash their ray guns on anyone standing in their way.
Suddenly, the customer contact world has become unpredictable and volatile: Less like Earth and more like one of those angry, dangerous planets blighted by noxious gases, violent storms and meteor showers.
So why the big change? What's been happening?
Our New Overlords
Eckoh's helpful Customer Power e-Guide identifies six ways that today's consumers are different — as well as how to spot tell-tale signs. But the key message is this: customers are now in control.
They have better technology, using apps and the cloud for everyday interactions, long before many enterprises. They spend more on tech and they're better connected too. Apparently, the average digitally-connected person uses six channels of communication and three devices socially and for work. Research suggests that looking at their phones over 200 times a day isn't unusual.
Today's customers are also better informed and they share opinions quickly. They demand more choice and control. They're better at adapting — and shift allegiances in moments. Expectations are sky-high too. If they have great service and interaction with one company, they'll use their power demand something similar from another business, even if they operate in a different sector.
To the new breed of customer, there's just one universe now —work, home and social lives have melded into one — and they're at the centre. They demand the best service, anytime, anywhere and on any device.
In the Bodysnatchers movie, the invading aliens are relentlessly taking over those around them. Humans cannot co-exist. One day, they're 'going to get you'. It's only a matter of time.
Today's world has some striking similarities. Businesses have to change. Customers really are the new overlords. Those that refuse to 'join them' and will see their business worlds obliterated.
But it isn't all bad news. While being refreshingly honest about the challenges ahead, Eckoh's guide also provides practical steps on how to harness the upsurge in customer power — and use it as a business advantage.
In many respects, organisations need to extend the hand of friendship in new ways. Rather than showing customers our ways, we need to follow their ways. 'First contact' may take place on multiple channels and personal engagement must be close and every present, rather than everyone feeling like they come from different planets.
So how can this be done? Find out by downloading the insightful Customer Power e-guide. Use it to review your current approach customer power — and discover what you should be doing next.