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Power firm prepares for customers of the future

Today’s uncertain political and economic landscape will give rise to a new breed of customer who is risk averse, according to new research launched this week.

From Press releases - 13 June 2016 12:00 AM

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Today’s uncertain political and economic landscape will give rise to a new breed of customer who is risk averse, according to new research launched this week.

‘Customer of the Future’ is a breakthrough report by the Institute of Customer Service, supported by UK Power Networks, which identifies 12 ‘factors of change’ that will shape the business landscape in 2025. It also highlights possible scenarios facing UK organisations and suggests how they can start future-proofing themselves.

The research predicts that the ‘customer of the future’ will be: - driven by fear: increasingly frequent public breaches of online security and the looming threat of a large scale cyber-attack will mean customers are fiercely protective of their personal information, and demand robust assurances of its ongoing security - self-aware and focused on the ‘here and now’: mass consumerism will be phased out as customers demand genuinely personalised service. Living in a tougher economic climate their focus will be on using disposable income for instant gratification over long term planning - influenced by the ‘network economy’: competing organisations will collaborate to build market share, ensuring customers have access to better value and innovative products - battling contradictory impulses: as they grapple with a desire for personalisation and a reluctance to share data, tomorrow’s customer will be unpredictable, spelling an uncertain future for organisations looking to target and satisfy them.

UK Power Networks, which delivers electricity to over 8million homes and businesses across London, the East and South East, sponsored and helped shape the research. Customer Service experts within the company are already studying the results in a bid to help meet and exceed the future needs of increasingly electricity-hungry customers.

Head of Customer Change Hannah Ngoma said: “Communicating innovatively to our customers about fast-moving incidents such as power cuts, is an area where we have led the industry and won many awards. However we can’t afford to sit still and feel comfortable. It is interesting to understand how important the emotional state of a customer is expected to become when understanding service expectations, and to see the predicted customer needs and how they will be split between ‘transactional’ and ‘relationship’ customers. In some situations and for certain needs, customers will prefer simplicity, speed and convenience while the priority at other times will be empathy and advice, and a willingness for customers to actually collaborate with their service providers to create a service experience together.

“People’s preferences, the relationships we can build with other trusted organisations to help smooth a customer’s journey, advances in artificial intelligence in customer service, and how we can keep customers updated during an incident given the predicted change in household and family types, are just some of the opportunities raised by the report, which we plan to address to ensure our services continue to be developed with customers’ needs at heart.”

UK Power Networks’ director of customer services Matt Rudling will be participating in a tweetathon about the issue from 2pm on Thursday (June 16).

Jo Causon, Chief Executive of The Institute of Customer Service, said: “Customer behaviour is changing, and the future promises vast, exciting opportunities for new products and ways of delivering service. Yet in a climate of expanding choice, customers will also want integrated services and simple, straightforward experiences from companies they can trust. The challenge will be for organisations to understand both sets of needs and be able to move seamlessly between them.”

She added: “Of course, none of us can claim accurately to predict the future, but that does not mean we should not try to forecast and prepare for it. Looking ahead, successful organisations will be those who can do more than embrace change – they will anticipate, identify and drive it.”

The report was launched by the Institute of Customer Service and report sponsors at One George Street in Westminster, on Thursday (June 9).