Service 2020: Megatrends for the decade ahead

19 April 2013

In the future customers will select those organisations who can demonstrate they know them well and who offer service levels which stand out. Organisations who fail to align their service to meet customers' needs will risk losing future business.

'Service 2020' is an Economist Intelligence Unit report, commissioned and sponsored by BDO. The report captures the views of 479 business leaders. Covering business-to-business and business-to-consumer models, the report explores how successful organisations have built and subsequently sustained excellent client service and, most excitingly, provides a blueprint for the prioritisation of service development opportunities.

The research findings fall into eight megatrends which will define service in the future. Each week we will be covering one of these megatrends on this site. To get the full report, email [email protected].


Download the first megatrend:

Global competition will drive up service standards

This megatrend explores how customer service will be used by a rising number of firms as a competitive differentiator in order to challenge the increasingly global marketplace and aggressive new emerging market rivals.

Download the second megatrend:

Companies must maintain service standards in the face of the need for speed

Speed has become a differentiator. Firms that will be able to help their customers save time will leverage this to stand out from their rivals.

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Firms must learn to use the increased transparency brought by social media to their advantage

Social media is changing the way consumers select products and services, based on the real-time views of others. The influence of social media will develop and expand further in the coming decade as it replaces the press as the primary consumer watchdog.

Download the fourth megatrend:

Companies must use new sources and types of data to rethink the way they track and personalise their service

A range of new data, sourced from customers' social media feeds, smart phones, and other sources, will change the way that firms track their customer feedback and complaints.

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Good employees will remain fundamental to good service but with technology as an enabler

While some industries have automated aspects of their service needs - allowing passengers to check themselves in for a flight, for example - good staff are far and away the most crucial element of good service. Nearly seven in 10 respondents chose people as what matters most in delivering good service.

Download the sixth megatrend:

More firms will outsource aspects of customer service to new kinds of specialists

Today, nearly all firms (87%) take care of their service offering in-house. In the decade ahead, however, specialist outsourced customer service providers are likely to be in demand.

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The rise of the mass affluent and other customer segments will force companies to find new product or service niches

Booming emerging market economies have done a lot to raise the incomes of the poor across much of the world, making the 'middle class' a synonym for new opportunities, especially in emerging markets. By 2030, the World Bank estimates there will be some 1.2 billion middleclass consumers globally and overall emerging markets will play a larger role.

Download the eighth megatrend:

Customer expectations, including the purpose of the store, are evolving with new technology

Mobile devices are leading the way in changing customer expectations. By always being able to access any information, at anytime, people will increasingly expect this throughout their lives. Almost a third of respondents say their customers expect to be able to get in touch with them 24/7.


To help us continue the discussion surrounding 'Service 2020' we have set up a feed on LinkedIn. We will be updating this regularly and hope that you will join in to share your thoughts. To join the group please click here.