How will the customer experience evolve in 2018?
For the past few years, CX has earned a great deal of attention, with more businesses starting to realise the important role they have to play in customer retention, advocacy and long-term profitability. Not only is there now a greater focus on customer experience, but it’s also becoming something that is pulling together many aspects of business operations and requiring a greater level of strategy and co-ordination. So what are the trends that are driving CX in 2018 and how can businesses ensure that they are remaining competitive by delivering a consistently better customer experience?
Proactive Customer Experience
Steve Jobs’ approach to the customer experience was to create something he knew customers wanted, even before they knew they wanted it. And this is what many claim gave Apple its competitive advantage in the computing and smart device industry. Steve Jobs proactively created something that would drive demand for Apple’s products that was focused on user experience.
While many businesses may not be in the forefront of developing new technology and products like Apple, advances in technology are now allowing more businesses to take a proactive approach to CX. Location-based mobile technology is one such example. Imagine you’re walking down the street and pass your favourite restaurant. Your phone pings with a tantalising picture of a gourmet burger lunch special. Bets are if you’re hungry and have the time, you’re going to stop in for that burger. Another example is using Augmented Reality apps to direct customers into stores if they’re looking for a specific product, or to provide additional information to help with the decision-making process. It’s the equivalent of having a personal sales assistant on their phone.
Analytics driven decision making
Businesses are recognising that they have a wealth of customer data and are starting to access it in order to understand what their customers want. Whereas before, when customer-buying decisions were educated guesswork, now analytics can provide precise data that shows a clear picture of exactly how customers interact with an organisation. The real benefit of analytics, however, is in being able to identify areas where more value to either the customer or the business could be achieved. Strategic decision making is supported by data and can be used as a base point for measuring the return on investment after a specific strategy has been implemented.
Whole organisation involvement
Increasingly it’s being recognised that the customer experience involves far more than just the customer service department, and that everyone from the CEO down to the receptionist has an important role to play. Studies show that when CEOs and top management lead the charge in terms of creating a better customer experience within the organisation, it has a ripple effect, creating a culture change that encourages more employees to think proactively in terms of the customer. Businesses with this as a priority not only invest in customer engagement, but also recognise that employee engagement is a big part of this. Training, learning and development creates empowered employees and a culture of creativity and innovation that translates into positive energy. Happy employees help create happy customers.
Time is currency & personalisation is key
Personalisation has been a trend in CX for some time, but without analysing a great deal of data, what does this mean? People are busier than ever and companies that recognise this will be able to identify opportunities to create more customer value. Give customers what they want, customising it to their needs, and you’ll win them over. By saving them time, you’ll be generating more revenue, because time, for customers, is a valuable commodity. AI has a big role to play in personalisation as omni-channel and self-service become the norm. Chatbots and similar AI are likely to play a bigger role in supporting customer service agents, with machines playing a pivotal role in the future of CX. For customers looking for that personalised human service, video chat is a channel likely to be used more.
Smarter data management
Cloud storage is one of the emerging trends, and with the GDPR regulations coming into force this year, companies will need to get smarter about how they manage and protect customer data. Customers will now be empowered to ask businesses to delete their personal data if they feel there could be a breach of privacy. With an increasing number of cyber attacks, companies will need to invest more in security measures to protect customer data.
All in all, 2018 is set to continue being an exciting year for CX. It will be interesting to see how technology integrates with human resources and if this is the year where companies can finally start to get customer service right – through a better customer experience.