Over the decades, the way that we communicate has changed drastically.
A few decades ago, if you wanted to get in touch with someone, you needed to call them up and hope they were at home, or otherwise arrange to meet them in person. Communication was possible, but it was inconvenient, cumbersome, and underwhelming. Now, there are countless ways for the average person to be seen and heard an instant.
Want to connect with your brother while he’s at work? You can send an instant message or text straight to his smartphone. If you need to collaborate with a colleague over a complicated project, you can share files and video through a UC&C platform. Even if you just want to vent your opinions to the world, there’s review sites, YouTube, and countless social platforms that make speaking to thousands of people at once, easier than ever.
In such a naturally connected world, it only makes sense that the average consumer would have changed. As we move ahead into 2018, it seems that many brands will be looking at new ways that they can market themselves to the “PROsumer” instead of the “CONsumer”. But, what exactly does that mean?
What Should “Prosumer” Mean to You?
The word “prosumer” has been around for some time now, but it only began to generate real interest in recent years.
The term was coined by a man called “Alvin Toffler”, who created the term when writing his book “The Third Wave” in 1980. As you might have guessed at this point, the word “prosumer” is a combination of the terms “consumer” and “producer/professional”. For different people, the title means different things, but one of the most common ways to look at the “prosumer” is as a representation of the modern, empowered customer.
Today’s customers are more enlightened, and more demanding than the generations that came before them. We’re living in a world where digital nomads expect to be able to communicate with their friends and favourite brands in real-time, through a selection of platforms that range all the way from instant messaging, to audio conversations.
Customers can serve themselves in retail stores thanks to increasingly convenient technology installed into point-of-sale terminals, and they can find the answers to their questions in an instant with a quick search on Google, or a browse through a company’s website.
So, how has the rise of the “prosumer” change the world we live in, and how will it inspire brands to continue tweaking and improving the services that they provide?
The Prosumer and Instant Gratification
Perhaps one of the most important defining factors of the “prosumer” is that these customers no longer have to wait to get the things they want from companies and organisations. In the past, if you wanted to know more about a recent product you purchased, you’d have to call up the service line or talk to someone in-store. Now, prosumers can find the answers to their questions in FAQ pages, or look for advice on forums from people who already own the item.
Prosumers are a generation of digitally-savvy, agile individuals who are ready and willing to embrace new technology, provided that the solutions available make their lives more convenient. As early adopters in the digital space, many prosumers are always taking advantage of solutions that help them to stay connected with their family and friends in simple, and effective ways, such as instant messaging, and video chat.
Today, more prosumers are expecting companies to take the same steps when it comes to providing their clients with the connectivity solutions they need. Your clients don’t want to be restricted to talking to you over the phone when they have a problem, they expect today’s contact centre to have a UC&C strategy in place that allows for communication on an omnichannel basis.
Instead of using one or two methods for communication, today’s prosumers are willing to use 6 or 7 options at any given time, including interactions with AI and chatbots, if they’re designed with the right resources to facilitate a speedy resolution.
This desire for innovation and instant gratification has forced legacy companies to begin changing the way they serve their clients in a host of different ways. Not only is almost every communication vendor in the marketplace today offering something in the way of UC&C or UCaaS, but the drive towards the cloud is becoming more popular than ever too.
After all, in an agile environment where trends and preferences are constantly changing, the cloud affords a level of security, creativity, and scalability that can’t be accessed anywhere else. Only through cloud technologies can businesses effectively embrace new strategies as and when they appear, to make the most out of customer satisfaction.
Customer Needs are Changing
The modern prosumer cares less about price and product, and more about innovation and meaning. Brands need to learn how to deliver the experiences that their clients crave while standing for something important at the same time. For instance, research suggests that 78% of mainstream consumers and 91% of prosumers prefer to work alongside companies that have a strategy for reduced waste.
This desire for environmentally friendly business performance could continue to push the drive towards UC&C technology. After all, if your dispersed global network can connect more freely over video chats in huddle rooms, then there’s less money and fuel wasted on international travel. UC&C allows modern companies to innovate for the agile prosumer while keeping expenses to a minimum too.
Just as supermarkets are likely to start selling products in smaller packages, vendors in the communication industry will benefit from solutions that invest less in hardware, with more flexible software solutions. After all, hosting a business on the cloud is much more environmentally friendly than paying for the creation and installation of countless on-premise phones and servers.
Preparing for the Prosumer Era
Ultimately, being prepared for the “prosumer” environment means knowing how to digitally transform your company in a way that satisfies the needs of your target audience. In other words, it’s about adapting your business to focus on “CX” instead of solely concentrating on profits and revenue.
Today’s businesses only have one way to effectively differentiate themselves from other competitors in the marketplace. If you can’t demonstrate your ability to effectively satisfy your customers, then you won’t be able to win the hearts and minds of a more empowered consumer base. This is particularly crucial in an environment where prosumers are quick to tell other people about the experiences they have with their favourite brands.
Rob is Founder & Publisher of UC Today, a leading news publication specialising in Unified Communications & Collaboration technologies.