Customer Experience or CX – we all know the critical importance it plays in a company’s success – in both offline and online customer engagement.
With the ever-evolving access to meaningful consumer data and analytics, organisations have the insights at hand to shape their customer experience proactively.
2017 sees a number of agreed trend predictions relevant for all business types:
Top companies are creating a new customer service benchmark, which is in turn increasing customers’ expectations. Organisations are having to follow suit and pull their socks up to meet these expectations to stay on top of their customer experience game.
Value + Experience > Price
Companies with a focus on delivering great consumer experiences represent a value proposition that makes price a less relevant factor for their customers and users.
Take a simple example of a small, independent deli shop; the meat is locally sourced, the cheeses are from independent dairies, and the bread is baked in-house. It’s all a bit more expensive, but this isn’t as relevant when the owner greets you by name, remembers what you bought last time, makes a suggestion you try a new product he’s brought in, or lets you to sample before you buy. You feel valued and special, and so in turn return to the shop again and again, and no doubt pass on positive feedback to your friends and family.
Personalisation, both online and offline has been a trend for the last few years. Forrester Research indicated that in 2016, 91% of marketers marked personalisation as a priority focus. However, there is much scope for personalisation to go beyond the basic demographics, and to utilise quality data for insights into behavioural patterns and preferences to anticipate a customer’s intent, and create real-time tailored experiences, (without being intrusive or creepy).
Speed is of the Essence
In a world where we all seem to have less time just to get things done, speed really is of the essence. Most people can give an example of frustrating customer service, whether it’s making an online enquiry or complaint which takes days to receive a response, or a face-to-face interaction with someone unhelpful or uninformed. It’s off-putting, and discourages customers from returning. Offering multi-channel options of communication for consumers, with quick, adhered-to response times is what puts organisations ahead of the pack.
Proactivity & ‘Customer Success’
‘Customer success’ is all about organisations being proactive in creating value for their customers from the very beginning, and building a relationship to encourage loyalty and positive word-of mouth through offering intuitive, helpful and pleasurable experiences. Rather than addressing issues reactively through customer support, customer success means recognising where frustrations may arise, or where users or consumers need guidance and advice (for example complex products or multi-stage services), and creating value through thoughtful processes and initiatives. For example, a technical product purchase could be supplemented with walk-through videos or ‘how to get started’ sessions. This equates to the consumer feeling valued, and confident in their purchase, and reduces the need for follow-up support.
Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service
Speech recognition, natural language understanding, computer vision and conversational AI are all examples of commonplace AI technologies allowing human interaction with machines.
In terms of customer experience, combining these technologies has already created Intelligence Assistants (IAs)– think of Siri, Google Now and Cortana, all virtual assistants, on hand to make life easier when using your smartphone or other devices.
Evolving Intelligence Assistants could see more use of utilising them across multiple touchpoints as ‘conversational IA’. For example, data collected would allow the IA to add context to a telephone call based on a customer’s previous chatbot communications, giving a more personalised and cohesive experience.
The past few years has very much been focused on making websites ‘mobile-friendly’, however, 2017 sees Google’s introduction of a new ‘mobile-first index’. Essentially, this means Google will prioritise rankings based on the mobile version of a site’s content. This means organisations’ mobile sites should be delivering an end-to-end mobile experience, tailored users’ behaviour, frequent actions and expectations.
These are a number of trends forecast for this year, many with a focus on the integration of technology with the overall consumer experience – both in providing positive customer experiences, and in utilising data to tailor these experiences. The bar continues to be raised in terms of customer expectation, and organisations need to continue to strive to meet this to remain competitive.