Customer-facing employees are your brain and your backbone.

//Customer-facing employees are your brain and your backbone.

The 12 Trends That Will Rule Products In 2013

Think 2013 will spell the end of good old analog and human interaction? Eh, not so fast according to a group of agency experts.

Written by: Chris Butler

Near the end of 2012, a group of us at Ziba got together to review what we’d learned over the course of the year. Working with dozens of clients who serve customers around the world, we designers spend a lot of time observing people as they interact with technology, services, and experiences, noticing how they seek solutions to everyday problems and make decisions. In the process, certain patterns emerge so forcefully that they’re practically unavoidable.

Meeting over three sessions spread out over a week, 23 Zibites (designers, researchers, and creative directors) discussed the patterns we’d seen, and distilled them down to the 12 insights we thought were most current and useful, to us and to our clients. Each one is presented here, as a brief essay that suggests how it will affect business practices in 2013, and as an illustration created by one of Ziba’s designers.

02 Customer-facing employees are your brain and your backbone.

The crucial element in any customer experience is still people, no matter how much technology has transformed the landscape. The sales associate, the courier, the flight attendant, or the service agent–in many ways these are your most important, best-informed people. The larger an organization, the more it relies on the thousand tiny decisions its frontline employees make on a daily basis. And listening to their collective wisdom is more important than ever.

Listen, learn, and enable. Taking full advantage of that ground-level expertise means fostering better communication, and putting resources in the hands of those who face your customers. Technology in 2013 will focus on helping employees do more, more intelligently, and the wisest organizations will invest in this wholeheartedly.

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