In his book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance, Jim Blasingame outlines how we are in an epochal marketplace shift that’s causing the 10,000-year-old Age of the Seller to be replaced by the Age of the Customer.
It is very clear that this seismic shift has been accelerated by the development of access technology.
In the past the customer had limited access to detailed information on sales products or services and relied on the retailer at the point of sale to provide it; information which was often biased in favour of the supplier’s selling criteria.
Now advanced technology and a wide range of social media reviews allow the customer to quickly evaluate and compare products and services, and even purchase directly on-line without any human retail interaction.
With keen pricing, fast efficient deliveries and a “no-quibble” returns policy on-line retailers are setting higher standards for conventional high street operators to meet.
Customers have also learned lessons from the recent economic downturn and can now clearly evaluate value in terms of price, quality and service.
Customers have become well informed, confident, value conscious and more demanding in their dealings with retailers, and quick to post comments on social media about their experiences.
A survey of 1,000 UK consumers, commissioned by Interactive Intelligence, found that over three-quarters of consumers will use a different retailer if they don’t receive adequate service, while half will share negative feedback online or via social media if they are unsatisfied.
Progressive retailers and service providers are beginning to react to this marketplace shift and are adapting their operations to meet the demands of the “new- age customer”. However, many are holding out and hoping this is a fad that will pass over, and then they can revert to the old norms!
The age of the customer is here – it is a clear marketplace shift and all the indications are that it will be here for the foreseeable future- so get with the programme!
At Customer Care Insights we have developed the ASPIRE programme to help clients evolve into the new age – the Age of the Customer.