Six Socioeconomic Trends Influencing Customer Behavior and their Impact on Engagement


This article examines socioeconomic trends that are evolving customer behavior and changing customer engagement and customer experienceOpens a new window initiatives. Readers will gain insight into social developments that are impacting CX and leading to changes in customer service strategy.

With consumer needs and behavior constantly evolving, it is essential for the customer service industry to understand how social developments are changing customer expectations for service and experience. Whether it is the growth of connectivity in society, shifting demographics or the development of new marketplaces, keeping a pulse on emerging socioeconomic trends is crucial to developing a sound customer service strategy and preparing customer service representatives for success. Six trends that are impacting customer engagement include:

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Top 7 Customer Experience (CX) Trends for 2020Opens a new window

#1. The Increasing Use of Technology in Day-to-Day Life

Millennials and Gen Z customers are using more and more devices, creating an increasingly complex network of connected devices. With experts predicting there to be more than 20 billion devices by 2020Opens a new window , consumers are continuously becoming more informed and can act more efficiently. The explosion of technology increases the demand for customer service to provide expert technical support. The number of channels through which companies can be contacted will continue to increase, including contacts through consumers’ digital assistants. Companies will also gain better, richer insights into consumer behavior patterns, illuminating customer needs and informing customer service strategy.

#2. The “Always On” Mentality

Society and the economy are constantly connected, creating new communication structures and models. Norms are changing like the length and form of messages, the exchange of content and methods for reaching target consumer groups. Customers expect companies to be just as networked as they are and demand response times to become faster and faster – and on their channel of choice. To keep pace with these requirements and provide consistent customer service across all relevant channels, companies need to become comfortable with increasing technical complexity.

#3. The Further Empowerment of Customers

Today, customers have access to more knowledge with digital technologies and make more informed decisions than in the past. Consumers can compare products or services in more detail than ever before, exchange experiences online and even take an active part in product development. As a result, consumers expect high-quality service and are increasingly less tolerance of poor service. Paired with greater customer assertiveness, subpar customer service represents a growing threat to a brand’s overall reputation. On a scale of 1-10, consumers rank customer service’s impact on brand loyalty at 7.8Opens a new window ; and businesses rate the importance of customer service as a loyalty and retention tool at 8.4. Brand loyalty will be more valuable but also more difficult to achieve, increasing the need for quality control and customer feedback to identify areas for improvement and innovation.

#4. The Exchange and Monetization of Private Data

More personal information is being collected from the growing number of devices and touchpoints between companies and customers. Consumers are increasingly aware of the economic value of this information and look to be compensated for the use of their data. The rising awareness of the value of data increases the demands on customer service, as consumers expect customer service representatives to utilize it properly. When it comes to privacy, customer service must also meet the requirements for transparency in data processing and use.

#5. The Evolving Needs of an Aging Society

While much of the focus has been on reaching younger generations of customers, seniors are still a growing segment of consumers. By 2030, 20 percent of the US population will be over 65, and the number of Americas over 85 will reach 19 million by 2050. As consumers age, they change their behaviors according to their health, disposable income and available time. Companies need to target older consumers more effectively by using the right channels, delivering the right messages and adapting products and services to aging customers.

#6. The Rise of the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy has shifted the focus from owning goods to accessing them like borrowing or renting cars and appliances. The platform economy is spurring even more new, open marketplaces, and new interfaces connecting people, companies and devices are combining the physical and virtual worlds. These changes in how consumers access products and services are influencing how people interact and make purchases. This changing landscape creates a greater need for customer service as more users have questions about products and service processes. The new interfaces supporting the sharing economy generate an increasing number of interactions, creating more demand for support and service while facilitating the exchange of information.

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To keep pace with an ever-changing landscape, organizations must understand the implications of socioeconomic trends on customer service. Taking a proactive approach to addressing new challenges allows customer service representatives to better meet the needs of consumers. Accounting for differences in consumer behaviors and understanding the unique needs of a transforming society informs a strong customer service strategy and empowers businesses to deliver a positive customer experience.