Original article by Ilan Slasky
It’s that time again – that time when people in the know assess where they are and where they need to go. Certainly in the world of software and technology, the pace of change has been rapid of late, with each year bringing advances often surpassing the expectations of knowledgeable expert commentators.
Nowhere is this fast-paced development more pronounced than in the huge space occupied by B2B and B2C commerce. The last few years have seen a shift in the balance of power from seller to buyer and if the phrase “the customer is king” was never really true before, 2016 makes it the year in which that phrase results in the most profound of truisms.
The service explosion and its impact
If you think this prediction is a little more than promotional guesswork, you only need to read the report by Gartner analysts, Jake Sorofman and Laura McLellan. Available on the Gartner website, this report reveals some startling survey results. Findings indicate that the majority of companies are basing their competitive strategies primarily on customer service and experience in 2016.
Evidently commerce has evolved into an environment where buyers expect a strong service culture to come as part of the package when spending money, especially when it comes to electronics, appliances and technology-based products. In these markets, there has been an explosion in service delivery, fuelled by the power of social media and buyers’ ability to raise service concerns in front of a global audience.
Why service matters more in 2016
The voice of the customer has never been louder and companies that fail to listen will be the ones riding out a tough 2016. Today’s consumers are happily writing service reviews about anything and everything on specialist websites and online communities. Add the fact that many more consumers will casually tell the world about their customer experiences via social media and you can start to see why you’d better not give anyone cause to write a negative one-liner about the products or services you provide. That’s why 2016 is shaping up to be the year of service.
2016: The year of service technology?
The news is not all bad, though. Buyers are becoming increasingly enamoured with the idea of self-service. So in many cases, the provision of online knowledge bases and self-service portals is sufficient to give customers a good perception of vendors’ service provision. Of course, this also means that when a customer feels compelled to speak with a technician or customer service agent, it’s more likely to be in relation to a complex and potentially frustrating problem.
If 2016 lives up to its prediction, there will be few businesses – large or small – that can afford to ignore the concept of customer relationship management. Fortunately, customer relationship management (CRM) software is becoming more capable and more affordable, so while technology is driving the need for service-based enterprise, it also provides the key to compete successfully in a new era – one in which the customer really is king.