7 ways to future-proof your organisation

14th Jul 2016

Customer of the Future, a report by the Institute of Customer Service, shows that customers’ diverse needs, preferences and behaviours are changing rapidly, and customer-facing organisations need to adapt to serve these shifting needs. Here are seven ways to prepare for the customer of the future:    

1. Get creative

In an environment where customer needs will be driven increasingly by a wide range of, sometimes contradictory, characteristics, organisations will need to find more creative ways of obtaining and updating customer data. This includes encouraging customers to share their personal information, as well as garnering data about customers’ behaviour. 

2. Be transparent

Many customers will be willing to share data about themselves if they believe it will lead to more relevant experiences attuned to their needs. But they will only be willing to do so if they trust in the integrity of the organisation and its ability to manage and protect their data. As a result, as technology evolves, it will become increasingly important for organisations to be transparent about how they collect, store, secure and use customer data, including the sharing of data across and between organisations.

3. Collaborate

The Institute’s research suggests the future will bring unprecedented forms of collaborative working. It raises the prospect of a pivotal shift in which organisations design genuinely customer-centric, comprehensive services around a broad range of needs.

4. Channel the customer

Firms will also need to show greater creativity and flexibility in the way they design and execute customer experiences. This means drawing on insight about a wide range of customer characteristics, including emotional and personality traits, to create more sophisticated and multi-layered customer personas to inform the design of products and service experiences.

5. Recruit and develop the right skills

As understanding and responding to customers’ emotions and a wide range of personal preferences grows in importance, emotional intelligence will become a cornerstone of recruitment and people development. 

The report also suggests that, in ten years’ time, many regular customer interactions will be dealt with through a blend of automated technologies and artificial intelligence. This means that customers’ interactions with employees will carry the expectation of highly personalised, empathetic experiences and expert advice.

6. Build trust

The proven connection between levels of trust and customer satisfaction will continue, but the quality of trust will acquire an even deeper commercial significance. Organisations need customers to share more of their personal data in order to offer relevant and personalised experiences. This means that organisations must earn and continuously maintain customers’ trust that personal data is managed, used and secured to the highest standards.

7. Work with regulators

The evolving customer of the future will create challenges not just for organisations, but also for regulators and legislators, who will need to take account of the emerging and complex needs of a wide variety of customers. This calls for new forms of collaboration and transparency between organisations, regulators and government, in both a national and international context, to provide current information and enable a regulatory and legislative framework focused on the customer of the future.

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