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Six Major Customer Trends and What They Mean for Your Business
By Micah Solomon, a customer service and marketing speaker, strategist, and author of the new book, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service. Find Micah at http://www.micahsolomon.com

Learning to treat individual customers as individuals is a key to business success. But being aware of underlying trends in the marketplace is also essential for the success of any business that relies on significant numbers of transactions and forward-looking planning. These are the six major customer trends:

Customer Trend #1: Customers Expect Anticipatory Technological Behavior and Aggregated Information -- Instantly. Today's customers aren't willing to search for information, or to wait too long in line to get answers from a human. Today's customers expect technology to bring an experience that is easy, instantaneous, and intuitive. Customers want to type or thumb a few keystrokes on their smartphones or tablets and have the information they need served up for them concierge-style based on their IP address or satellite location and other useful clues.

Customer Trend #2: Shame Shift and Values-Based Buying. Today's consumers tend to be shy about consuming too conspicuously, unless the object of their splurge has "attached meaning" to a cause or charity. And, as shown by a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 87 percent of consumers in the United States believe that companies should value the interests of society at least as much as strict business interests: only 13% want to do business with a company that only values the bottom line.

Customer Trend #3: Timelessness Over Trendiness. In these times of uncertainty, customers are searching for authenticity and a backstory in the products and services they buy. Examples are everywhere, from the suburban rage for raising hens to the surge in popularity of classic Hunter boots. Thanks to the recession, customers are looking for old standbys that can become hip again

Customer Trend #4: Customer Empowerment. With an array of choices at their fingertips, customers expect companies to respect them, to make it easy to contact them, and to respond to their comments, promptly and thoughtfully. "Which I suggest you do," Solomon advises, since technology has empowered customers to share their annoyances.

Customer Trend #5: The Greening of the Customer. The younger the customer, the more "hooked on green," so this trend isn't likely to abate for awhile. It's wise to operate from the assumption that customers will have concerns relating to the environmental impact of your operation and their purchase.

Customer Trend #6: The Desire for Self-Service. Fueled by our round-the-clock, tech-savvy lifestyle, the desire for self-service options, from online shopping to concierge-like touchscreen menus in public spaces, is only growing. Rather than ignore it, Solomon urges companies to tap the potential of self-service to provide anticipatory service.

Adapted from HIGH-TECH, HIGH-TOUCH CUSTOMER SERVICE: Inspire Timeless Loyalty in the Demanding New World of Social Commerce by Micah Solomon (AMACOM; May 2012; $23.00 Hardcover; ISBN: 978-0-8144-1790-4).

Author Bio
Micah Solomon, author of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service, is the customer service strategist and speaker termed by the Financial Post "a new guru of customer service excellence." Solomon is a top keynote speaker, strategist, and consultant on customer service issues, the customer experience, and company culture -- and how they fit into today's marketing and technology landscape. An entrepreneur and business leader, he previously coauthored the bestselling Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit. His expertise has been featured in Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Bloomberg Business Week, CNBC, Forbes.com, and elsewhere, and he created and helms the "College of the Customer" website.

For more information please visit http://www.customerserviceguru.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter