Business Management Articles / Customer
GET TO KNOW THE CUSTOMER OF THE FUTURE
Rene T. Domingo (email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)
The customers of the next millennium will
present challenges and opportunities for both
the manufacturing and service sectors. As
customers shift buying habits, tastes, and
purchasing paradigms, banks and other service
providers will have to develop proactive quality
plans. Otherwise, current products and services
will become irrelevant, unappealing, and uncompetitive.
It may not be enough in most cases to just
revitalize or enhance existing services. It
may be necessary to reinvent most of them
to survive the new environment.
There are twelve distinct megatrends in customer
behavior that will be apparent at the turn
of the century and the millennium for which
companies must make immediate and appropriate
strategic responses and plans now.
First. The customers of the future will be
value conscious, not cost conscious nor price
conscious. They will not associate cheap price
with high value, nor high price with high
quality. Value for money will be the key purchase
criterion. Premium pricing, cost-plus pricing,
market entry pricing, and commodity pricing
will become unfashionable and disastrous.
The new paradigm will be "value pricing".
Second. The customers of the future will be
highly informed, or "informationalized".
The internet and other information technologies
will highly increase their bargaining power
and demands. They will be capable of electronic
benchmarking and electronic window shopping.
In other words, they will window shop not
with their feet but with their fingers on
the keyboard. E-commerce means they can instantaneously
compare prices, interest rates, services,
and quality of any product or service. Purchase
contracts can be electronically "signed"
in seconds, or cancelled in seconds if a better
offer arrives on the screen within a minute
Third. The customers of the future will develop
and acquire global tastes, global requirements,
and global standards of quality. They will
be well traveled physically and electronically,
browsing through Webs of commercial information.
Local products for local culture will become
things of the past. The distinction between
domestic and export sales, domestic and export
quality will blur. Even pure domestic producers
and service providers will have to deliver
export quality expected by local consumers.
Fourth. The customers of the future will demand
total satisfaction. They would pay for the
product-service package inclusive of "before
sales service" and "after sales
service". In other words, they will pay
for the "total experience", rather
than just a mere product, or a mere service.
Companies will have to shift paradigms from
selling finished goods and services to selling
Fifth. The customers of the future will want
to be delighted, not just satisfied. They
will want their expressed as well as their
unexpressed wishes catered to. They expect
proactive rather than reactive services. They
want manufacturers and service providers to
read their minds, rather than ask questions
Sixth. The customers of the future will be
increasingly fastidious and perfectionist.
They will demand product and service quality
levels measured not in percentage, but in
defects per million (dpm) of transactions,
or defects per million (ppm). Purchase decisions
and customer loyalty will be based on differences
in these minute metrics of quality.
Seventh. The customers of the future will
expect high and wide variety and assortment
of products, services, and options. They will
want their orders mass customized, rather
than mass produced. They will want exact measurements
rather than forced into standards offerings.
Standardized products and services of the
"one-size-fits-all" nature will
be abhorred. Flexible manufacturing systems
will most adaptive to this new customer behavior.
Eight. The customer of the future will expect
short product lives. They will not expect
long term durability, but will expect high
reliability during the short life of the product.
They will want new products and services to
come out in continuous streams so that they
can indulge in myriad of choices. Time-to-market
reduction will be the key to competitiveness
in this regard.
Ninth. The customers of the future will demand
short ordering times and real time satisfaction.
Order processing times of months and weeks
will be standards of the past. Customers will
only tolerate hours and minutes of waiting
time. Delayed deliveries will be redefined
in terms of fractions of an hour, not days.
Processes will have to be reengineered to
achieve these unforgiving requirements.
Tenth. The customers of the future will be
process oriented rather than product oriented.
They will judge not only the quality of the
product and service, but also the quality
of the management and the facilities that
produce these. They will not settle for just
brochures, blueprints, catalogues, and product
samples. They will want to see the insides
of factories and service establishments to
check how people work and how process standards
Eleventh. The customers of the future will
order more frequently in smaller and smaller
lots. They will want just-in-time deliveries,
not early not late. In other words, they will
not want to carry inventories or stocks. Economic
lot size and economic order quantity will
soon disappear in the vendor vocabulary, as
customers demand order quantities approaching
Twelfth. The customers of the future will
be environment conscious. They will prefer
or insist on green products made by green
processes. They will only buy from socially
responsible companies which use environmentally
friendly processes in coming out with their
products and services. For instance, bank
clients of the future may patronized only
those banks which use documents made of recycled
In conclusion, the customers of the future
will be globalized, informationalized, perfectionists,
process-oriented, time-conscious, and environment-conscious.
As the saying goes, to be forewarned is to