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The multidimensional customer

In an era defined by uncertainty, the companies that get closest to their customers will emerge ahead of the pack. This begins with an “outside-in” view, building new ways of understanding how and why people make decisions.

You already know that customer behavior is changing. Power has shifted from companies to consumers, the mobile phone has become the remote control of our lives, trust in institutions and traditional advertising has diminished. Customer trade-offs and decisions are more opaque and moving faster.

You’re already aware that the structure and composition of industry has changed. New entrants with radically new business models are enacting disruption across the value chain, reshaping ecosystems from sector to sector.

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Meanwhile, company lifespans are shrinking and the paths to billion-dollar valuations are accelerating. All these challenges are well documented across business media, research reports and conference presentations.

But how should you use this information to understand not only where your customers are today but where they’ll be tomorrow? How can you rethink the basis of competition and pivot your operations and business models to win in the battle for growth?

It’s time for a new approach. One that employs a multidimensional framework to engage what is now a multidimensional consumer.

Genesis of our findings

For several years, we’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with clients to understand customer attitudes, behavior and expectations in our present era of disruption and uncertainty. Faint signals of change grew louder and bigger patterns began to emerge beyond one individual sector, building a sense of urgency and leading to our belief that we’re witnessing a structural change, not a temporal one.

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As our teams constructed a new way of thinking about a changing customer, we embarked on a multifaceted research program to validate our thinking and bring to bear the voice of the consumer. Combined with the extensive, worldwide experience of KPMG’s network of member firms, this has enabled us to identify how best to engage the 21st-century consumer, and our approach provides a tangible framework to help companies identify, understand and respond to today’s changing customer.

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Five Mys

Presenting the Five Mys — a framework to help navigate the complexity of consumer decision making

The underlying drivers of human decision making have become exponentially more complex in recent years. Yet transactional data, traditional market research and demographic profiles alone are proving inadequate to explain not just what customers are doing, but why. As a result, many of our clients have found themselves out of step with a changing, more informed and more empowered customer. They’re struggling to understand customer motivations and how these translate into new products and propositions, new services or ways of doing business and, crucially, how they should align their organizations to keep driving growth.

We start by taking an outside-in view of customer behavior that enables companies to understand the multiple layers and related calculus of human decision making. And our research has led us to focus on five key dimensions of customer behavior — motivation, attention, connection, watch and wallet.

Considering any one of these dimensions in isolation tells only one aspect of a customer’s story. Together, however, they enable companies to navigate the complexity of consumer decision making, and build a richer understanding of changing attitudes, needs and behavior.

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» 01 My motivation
Trust, authenticity and social values are critical but intangible motivators of the choices today’s consumers make.

» 02 My attention
The fight for consumer attention has never been more intense, exacerbated by unprecedented volumes of content at our fingertips.

» 03 My connection
Today’s technology connects humans to information and each other 24/7, driving shifts in our social interactions and behavior.

» 04 My watch
The companies that understand the constraints of time and anticipate how that changes across life events are best placed to engage customers in the moments of greatest impact and to meet their needs head on.

» 05 My wallet
How consumers adjust their share of the wallet across life stages and pivotal life events is changing, creating a ripple effect of change across not just one, but all categories to which they allocate their money.

In the first part of this report, we explore each of the Five Mys in detail, illustrating how they contribute to a deeper understanding of the changing customer and potential impacts on the customer wallet. Based on our in-depth research, we discuss how these forces manifest across different generations and in different parts of the world.

Customer wallet

Introducing the customer wallet — the reality of how we spend and save
While potential earning power and disposable income have long been used in segmentation and in determining customer attractiveness, the forces that open and close our wallets are undergoing significant change. When, where, how and why we spend is becoming more complex, influenced by a greater variety of forces and greater availability of choice. It’s becoming less predictable, as demographic and economic shifts challenge the accuracy of legacy earning and spending trends. And the trade-offs we’re willing to make across different categories are constantly evolving, powered by mass adoption of new technologies and the rise of the ondemand economy. The complex, unpredictable and changing nature of our wallets calls for a new way of thinking about the interrelationship among income, borrowing, savings and spend. We need to consider this mix in the context of why we’re making the choices we are and how the mix

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Read more in paper

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