The Medallia Team

2014. It flew by before we could truly get to know it — but it was no less of a big year. How will it be remembered? The Year of Comcast? Of Uber? Of Amazon?

Regardless, it was a year when customer experience made headlines and was embraced by more business leaders as a means to differentiate, retain existing customers, and market to new ones. Not entirely unlike what we predicted.

But what about 2015? What new trends will emerge? Well, we decided to get out the crystal ball again — and here’s what we saw:

1. Frontline employees will be empowered to be customer relationship managers through technology

In retail settings, associates will become personal shoppers aimed at providing personalized experiences for high value customers and unlocking more value from less loyal customers. By leveraging a variety of technologies, these frontline employees will not only be able to identify customer profiles when they enter the store, but also deliver them tailored service, recommendations, and offers — based on their spending behavior, recent omni-channel activity, and customer experience feedback.

2. The digitization of the wallet

We’re not sure if Levi’s will start making jeans without back pockets anytime soon, but with the integration of payment systems into smartphones (and developments like Iowa’s recent driver license app announcement), the first signs of wallet becoming redundant emerged. The implications for customer experience — from simply removing friction in making purchases to creating new frontiers for omni-channel and personalization — are significant.

3. Higher education will begin adopting CEM

What do you think about your fall classes? How were the dorms? Would you recommend the overall undergraduate experience to a friend? Universities have been surveying their students for years — and a number of sites have sprung up in recent years to review professors and courses — but with large administrative silos, this data is rarely, if ever, acted upon in any high-level, systematic way. However, competition for top students amongst institutions combined with increasing scrutiny of campus life through online channels like social media, should be enough to push higher education to listen closer to their customers — students — about their experiences and act on that feedback.

4. The Internet of Things will connect us with more and more sources of feedback

From wearables and Smart TV’s all the way to eggs, the Internet of Things seems to know no bounds, and it’s generating feedback we never dreamed of having. How companies collect and use this data could have profound effects on how customer experiences are designed and customized.

5. CEM will come to SMBs

Fortune 1,000 companies often envy small businesses: they’re able to provide a more personalized experience experience that many larger companies could only dream of. But in 2015, CEM technology itself will begin to permeate beyond these big players and gain traction in small-to-medium sized businesses — who are looking to improve their customer experience and compete with the Amazon’s of their industries.

6. Feedback collection will continue to streamline and simplify à la Uber & Lyft

Rather than just add a new question for customers to the list or build entirely new surveys, companies will get smarter about how, when, and where to ask customers for their feedback. We’re likely to see more and more feedback being built into transactions to measure important moments of truth in real time.

7. CEM will be leveraged to test hundreds of experiments across organizations and deliver impactful innovation at scale

As important as innovation can be in a competitive market, it can be hard for large organizations to change their offerings or the way they do things. The risk that millions of dollars of investments won’t affect customer satisfaction and spending can often just be too high. CEM is changing this, allowing companies to test hundreds of small experiments and see which experiments are most impactful and valuable — before rolling them out across the company.

8. Large companies will begin to re-organize their operations and internal communications to better complement the customer journey

Companies often develop organizational structures in such a way that creates internal operational efficiencies — but not with thought to how the customer sees and experiences things. The silos that often result through this practice can lead to highly inconsistent experiences for customers. This inconsistency can cause real friction for customers; friction that can end in churn. In order to combat this and retain existing customers, more businesses in 2015 will seek to break down internal barriers to communication — if not begin to entirely re-org — and focus on creating more consistent, seamless experiences for customers across channels.

What do you think will happen in customer experience and CEM in 2015? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter, using #CXprediction!

Photo credit: gigi_nyc