What is the Me Economy and what is its impact on customer service?

Customer demands are evolving and are shifting toward unique and personalized experiences, leaving behind basic and standardized products or services. According to Forrester, companies that offer a personalized customer experience can increase their revenue by 5 to 15%. In addition, an Accenture study revealed that 75% of customers are more likely to buy from a company that gives them recommendations for products based on their preferences and purchasing history.

These statistics perfectly illustrate a new market trend that has been present for several years: the Me Economy. This trend shapes customer expectations in the areas of customer experience and service, significantly impacting the way in which companies operate. But what exactly is the Me Economy? And what is its impact on companies and customer service, in particular?

The Me Economy: Definition and Characteristics

The « Me Economy » is a relatively new term—going back to 2010—that refers to an economy based on the individual in which customers are capable of personalizing and controlling their consumer experiences. It is based on a sharper understanding of customer needs and wishes, thanks to the use of data and more advanced technologies.

It involves an evolution of the «experience economy », which emphasizes the personalization and individualization of the customer experience. While the experience economy put an emphasis on the creation of a memorable experience for the customer, the “Me Economy” goes further by offering customized experiences, specifically adapted to the needs and preferences of every person. Companies are therefore looking to adapt their offers to the distinct needs of each of their customers. This allows companies to provide a more relevant and engaging experience by offering their customers personalized products, services, and interactions.

The Me Economy is characterized by several key aspects that distinguish it from the traditional experience:

  • Personalization is the heart of the Me Economy. Companies are looking to create unique experiences for each customer by using data regarding preferences, behaviors, and buying habits, in order to offer products and services adapted to each individual. Amazon is a great example. Thanks to their algorithm based on customer data, the company improves its customer experience by suggesting relevant products according to past purchases.
  • Individualization: Today, brands offer generalized experiences for their customers. The Me Economy aims to offer a personalized experience for each individual through the use of advanced technologies to understand the needs of each customer and offer each one a personalized experience.
  • Co-creation is another important characteristic since companies aim to involve customers in the creation of products and services by using means such as surveys, comments, and reviews to understand customer needs and expectations.
  • Automation allows companies to provide a seamless and personalized customer service experience on a large scale. Chatbots, virtual assistants, and artificial intelligence are important tools for automating interactions with customers while maintaining a high level of personalization.
  • Innovation, since it is in constant evolution to respond to changing customer expectations. Companies must be ready to adopt new technologies and try new approaches to stay a few steps ahead in this area.

What is the impact of the Me Economy on customer service?

The Me Economy has a significant impact on customer service. Customers expect personalized customer experiences, pushing companies to better understand their individual needs and offer them adapted solutions.

Personalization is one of the key demands of the Me Economy. Customers want to be able to personalize their customer experience according to their own needs and preferences. They also expect brands to anticipate their desires and suggest personalized offers before they even ask for them, According to Salesforce, 76% expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. Deloitte adds that 36% are also ready to spend more for a personalized customer service experience. This requires brands to have deep understanding of customer preferences and behaviors, as well as the ability to anticipate their future needs.

Companies must be present on all communication channels used by their customers, to offer them seamless omnichannel customer service. Customers do not want to repeat the same information many times, and they do not wish to go from one channel to another to resolve a problem.

In a society of overconsumption of content and messages, in which immediacy is the rule, customers expect a fast response to their needs and service demands. They want companies to be reactive and respond quickly to any problems they encounter. Quick responsiveness is essential in the current environment in which customers have little patience and indulgence for delays or mistakes. The new BVA report proves that most brands have yet to meet customer expectations:

  • When they contact customer service by phone, 59% of customers expect to talk to an agent in under a minute. In reality, it takes on average 1 minute and 9 seconds ;
  • When they contact customer service by email, 78% of customers expect to receive a response that same day. In reality, it takes on average 4 hours and 35 minutes;
  • When they contact customer service on social media, 65% of customers expect to receive a response in under an hour. It actually takes on average 3 hours and 40 minutes.

These numbers show that wait times are not yet meeting customer expectations.

How can brands respond to these new demands?

However, there are different techniques for personalizing the experience you offer your customers. Here are a few examples:

  • Collect customer data: Data is at the heart of relationships between companies and customers. Indeed, how can you manage a relationship with your customers if you never contact them? And inversely, why contact your customers if it’s to offer them services and products that do not correspond to their expectations or worse, on a channel they do not use?
  • CRM is the cornerstone of good communication since it orchestrates customer knowledge. By giving access to a customer’s interaction history and offering a 360° view, it allows agents to talk about the right subjects at the right time and on the right channel. Integrating a CRM directly with your CTI allows you to identify the customer and anticipate his needs and possibly his expectations.
  • Use a chatbot or virtual assistant: Self-service channels such as chatbots and virtual assistants are used to offer immediate responses to customer questions, but also to personalize the experience according to their preferences. In this manner, customers can resolve common problems themselves, which allows them to save time and improve their overall experience. If the problem is more complex, chatbots are capable of recognizing the customer and routing him toward the most qualified agent, who will have access to his conversational history.
  • Offer 24/7 customer service: Self-service allows you to offer 24/7 customer service to respond to customer needs at any time. Customers appreciate the flexibility and ease of being able to contact brands at the time they prefer. This service therefore ensures continuous brand accessibility.
  • Use your customers’ preferred communication channels: Companies can use the preferred communication channels of their customers, such as social media, messaging applications, and email, to personalize the customer experience.

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The importance of a seamless experience

The seamlessness of the customer service experience on all communication channels is very important. Offering a seamless experience nowadays is essential, since it responds perfectly to the customer demands of the Me Economy:

  • It allows for a quicker resolution of customer problems without forcing customers to repeat themselves. An agent has access to the customer’s history on all channels, giving him a 360°view of problems both resolved and in progress. He can therefore handle the situation and resolve it while offering seamless customer service without interruption or useless repetition.
  • It offers consistent customer experiences. Customers expect a seamless experience when they interact with a company on different channels. They do not want to have a different experience with the brand according to the conversation channel chosen. If the experience is similar, this increases the feeling of customer closeness and trust.
  • It reinforces the brand image, since it creates a feeling of trust and professionalism. A strong brand image generates two main advantages: it reinforces customer loyalty, since, according to Edelman, 65% of customers are loyal to brands they love and in which they trust. New customers are more easily attracted. Indeed, according to Accenture, 81% of customers are more likely to buy from a company with a strong brand image.
  • It allows for better management of customer expectations, winning customer loyalty. If customer expectations are met, they will have no reason to go to competitors. According to Deloitte, companies that offer superior customer experience have customer loyalty rates that are up to 10 times higher than their competitors. Inversely, if the customer experience varies from one channel to another, this can create confusion and lead to loss of trust.
  • It offers a better overall experience, which is more satisfying for customers. They appreciate the ease of being able to interact with brands on the channel of their choice while enjoying a seamless experience. And they show this, as they are five times more likely to buy again, six times more likely to recommend the brand to others, and four times more likely to forgive a company mistake, as Temkin Group points out. In addition, American Express states that happy customers spend on average 17% more than unhappy customers.

What are the implications of the Me Economy for the future of customer service?

The Me Economy gives customers more and more control over their buying and service experiences. Even if technologies that offer more autonomy to customers—such as chatbots and artificial intelligence—are used more and more, customers still wish to have a personal and human touch in their experiences with brands. To respond to these needs, companies must find a balance between automation and human contact to offer optimal customer service experiences.

Put the customer at the heart of your strategy

This may not seem new, yet very few companies truly place customers and their needs at the heart of their strategy. Customers are at the heart of the current economy. Developing a customer-oriented culture allows a company to better understand customers and offer richer experiences that respond to customer needs and preferences and enable customer journey optimization.

To achieve this, several tools and practices are necessary, such as:

  • Mapping out the customer journey with the help of a Customer Journey Map  allows a company to understand the customer’s point of view, put itself in the customer’s shoes during the sales process, and best optimize the buying journey for more conversions and upsells.
  • Using data to better understand customers. Customer knowledge is the crux of customer service. More than merely understanding customer behaviors and motivations, customer knowledge offers a better understanding of feelings and intentions and how to anticipate customer needs. This helps a company offer a proactive and empathetic experience that responds not only to customer requests but anticipates desires and knows how to fulfill them.

Optimize the omnichannel approach

Offering your customers, the possibility of contacting you on different channels is necessary. Nonetheless, offering various communication channels just for the sake of offering them is counterproductive. You must be present where your customers are, especially on digital channels. Indeed, more and more customers use messaging applications and social media to contact customer service. The Me Economy makes customers decision-makers, giving them power: they want to be able to choose and feel frustrated when they don’t have choices.

Invest in technology

Innovation is crucial for companies that wish to respond to constantly evolving customer expectations. The use of chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) is a growing trend in customer service, offering automation and analysis of customer data. Investing in technological solutions allows, among other things, the improvement of customer data and interaction management, the personalization of offers, an increase in operational efficiency, and a reduction in costs. Offering powerful tools to your agents facilitates their daily work, allowing them to provide faster and better service.

Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that these technologies cannot completely replace human interactions. Companies must find a balance between the use of chatbots and AI and the maintenance of human interaction to respond to customer needs. While automation can offer advantages in terms of cost efficiency, it can also have limits in terms of personalization, empathy, and the resolution of more complex problems.

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