The great experience-builder Walt Disney said, “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.”
In a nutshell, that’s our philosophy on building customer experience (CX). To keep up with customers, you need to tackle today’s pain points—but that’s not enough. CX leaders also should envision the experience they want their customers to enjoy tomorrow—and use today to build it.
Every year customer experience is becoming more prominent but in 2020, experience management will get smarter. Here are my top 10 predictions for customer experience in 2020:
AI-driven data collection and measurement, actionable intelligence for prediction modeling and improved chatbots are just a few of the ways AI is going to continue to drive CX success. I see a continuing increase of AI interactions in the CX space being enabled by natural language communication. Conversational communication with bots using natural style language in voice and chat, particularly in support channels, will make AI chat increasingly indistinguishable from human customer service agents. Also, the trajectory of enterprise apps embedding artificial intelligence will continue to its predicted peak in 2025 where IDC predicts that at least 90% of new apps will be AI-enabled apps, delivering incremental improvements to make applications “smarter” and more dynamic.
Today we see AI applications embedded across many brands. Retail continues to pioneer the connection and cross-pollination between the on and offline world by initiatives such as using AR. For example, the use of AR in-store to help visualize an outfit or makeup, and online for household items where you can visualize what items will look like in your own home by utilizing a phone camera or uploaded pictures. The list of use cases are growing daily and customers have an increasing appetite for adopting new technology as a way of engagement.
To build great customer experiences in 2020, enterprises will need to de-silo their data and get it to work in harmony. This is becoming increasingly realistic as agile tech companies add more integration capabilities.
When CX-related software is interoperable, data becomes actionable and marketing, CRM, experience management, and service management can all work together and create a seamless experience for the customer and a high converting one for the business. For example, if a customer receives a marketing email and clicks through to a website, the CRM should update accordingly; then, it should trigger a campaign-based request to collect the customer’s feedback next time they visit. From there, issue reports (e.g., “the shopping cart didn’t work so I couldn’t make a purchase”) should activate a ticket in the service management solution so the team can close the loop with the customer. This is just one in a million possibilities that can create an amazing experience by integrating solutions.
The rise in use of voice assistants for search and command has been exponential. Juniper Research estimates there will be 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023, up from the 2.5 billion assistants in use at the end of 2018. Of course, voice assistants sit on many different devices from speakers to smart TV’s. Consumer hunger for voice across multiple platforms is already growing and while brands are busy joining customer journeys across channels for seamless experiences, they should also look at voice across these channels as a way for consumers to engage.
We’ve already seen video feedback in use, but this will move to the forefront as brands continue to see great value in the full story that video feedback offers. For example, one brand has embedded a widget into its contact center survey where customers can leave video responses about their interaction. As a result, the company uncovered a new level of powerful emotions that came through when customers provided video feedback, – a depth of insight and causes of issues that could be acted on to improve the experience.
This brand had a lot of customer feedback data and analytics from their contact center but didn’t have a person telling their story via video – an action that drives empathy amongst employees and compels them to take action to make the customer experience better. Seeing the facial expressions, visual cues and emotions behind a customer’s feedback has the power to stir empathy in front line employees and compel them to take action to solve the customer’s issue.
Blake Morgan said it best in her recent Forbes post where she stated: “thoughtfulness is in”. Although we can’t underestimate the importance of technology in any CX program, it’s what you do with the data that is truly the key step. Practitioners should use the data to become storytellers and advocates of their CX program. Brands will be using new tools such as video and voice feedback to add a human element that can inspire their frontline employees to deliver exceptional experiences. When employees can see customers as more than a Net Promoter Score® or a Customer Churn Rate, businesses will start developing enthusiasm around their programs.
Brands will harness the ability to manage omnichannel experiences across web, mobile, voice calls, social media, in-person and in-store interactions. As brands continue to be able to personally identify their customers across more touchpoints and track entire customer journeys, they will be able to better predict whether a customer is likely to return and spend more, churn, or become a brand advocate or detractor. By breaking down these historically siloed channels and offering customers the ability to voice their feedback wherever they are in their journey, companies will have the opportunity to create extraordinary experiences at every touchpoint.
As an industry, we’ve moved much closer to real-time with surveys, speech, and text analytics, and are pushing boundaries by incorporating behavioral and predictive analysis in customer experience programs. So what’s next? There has been a lot of talk about being more agile with CX. Companies with agile CX practices are granted the opportunity to fail fast or win faster. Agility allows faster implementation of customer feedback into processes, products, and services and adds steam to future CX efforts. This year those organizations that have matured to agile CX will leap even further ahead of their less-agile competitors.
In 2019, companies embraced new technologies to gather employee experience data more so than ever before. As we look ahead into 2020, many of these companies will realize one size does not fit all when it comes to employee experience programs. Many companies have a single method for submitting employee feedback—email to web. This can result in low response rates, particularly in industries where employees aren’t at a desk the majority of their workday. Companies will embrace text, video-chat and voice commands to capture feedback when it’s convenient for their employees. By making employee surveys more accessible, versatile, and capturing actionable insights, we anticipate companies will reap the benefits across their entire organization resulting in improved employee experiences and ultimately better customer experiences.
We’ve already seen companies leverage their CX data to unlock powerful actions that change the business for the better and in 2020, we will see more of this. CEOs, front line managers, and associates will take more action – including leveraging real-time feedback to change experiences in the moment. For example, we’ll see brands using social rival intelligence to derive quick feedback into how they are doing against their local competition and real-time action will be taken to steal customers by offering better experience in the moment.
As the practice of customer experience continues to broaden and CX teams are allocated bigger budgets, this is the year that leaders should not only deliver but be measured. Tying experiences to revenue is now critical and the good news for leaders is that the data is there. But if they don’t currently show the board how they are monetizing CX, they should start to with some urgency. There is a CX rockstar list and your name needs to be on it, so spend some time creating an ROI program if you don’t already have one.
The key metrics are not just your NPS or CSAT number but how much 1% movement in your results are worth in bottom line to your business. It’s imperative to know the potential value to the business of each pain uncovered and have a running total of these as projects to do, in progress and completed. Not all pain projects will be fixed so keep a note on the value of those too. Leaders know your worth and share it with the business—this is the year of ROI.
Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score and NPS are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.