Customer experience (CX) has undoubtedly surpassed product, price, and promotion in value to a customer in recent years. Brands who deliver superior customer experiences retain more satisfied customers, and have a real advantage over the competition. It is now more crucial than ever for brands to stay on top of ever-changing CX trends, but that is easier said than done. That is why we’re looking into our crystal ball to predict where CX will go next in 2018.
Here’s why: As a customer, loyalty programs are becoming more of a hassle. Just think about all of the usernames, passwords, and even keychain fobs you have for the countless loyalty programs you've joined at one time or another. But, how engaged and loyal are you really to those brands? If you're like most consumers, you signed up at some point due to an enticing offer and probably know very little about the loyalty program. And, the loyalty program probably knows very little about you, or more accurately doesn't show you how well they know you.
In 2018, expect to see brands evolve their loyalty programs to focus on the customer. With more than 85 million members, let’s look to Amazon’s Prime as an example. As a program designed not as a loyalty program but as a convenience program, Amazon provides its Prime customers with an easily, reliable, and fast way to buy and ship goods. It is not simply a way to gain more customer information, but it has kept the individual customer and the overall customer experience at it’s core. Brands who take advantage of this trend in 2018 will see an increase in customer satisfaction and overall customer loyalty without needing a gimmicky promotion to drive enrollment.
Here’s Why: Customers have continually grown to be more self-reliant to complete everyday tasks and troubleshoot when a problem arises. Gartner predicts customers will manage 85 percent of their interactions with brands without speaking to a single person by 2020 proving this trend is far more than a detailed FAQ page on a website. Next year, will see more self-service options for customers–especially chatbots.
While chatbot technology is not new, it has quickly grown recently due to two major developments: messaging apps and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Messaging apps (think: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat) are a major communication channel customers are already using. Capabilities within these apps have evolved to allow customers to easily complete daily tasks. More importantly, they give brands a great platform to interact with customers through chatbots.
Advancements in AI give brands employing chatbots extraordinary potential. Imagine a chatbot that can understand and solve customer problems in real time, and learn from every interaction. The potential AI gives chatbots gives this technology a valuable future.
Chatbots provide brands a way to connect with increasingly self-reliant customers on a channel they are already using with convenient help in the exact moment it is needed. Intelligent chatbots, as part of providing more self-service options to customers, offer brands a serious advantage and a trend you should expect to see evolve in 2018.
Here’s Why: According to Salesforce’s State of Service Report, 65 percent of consumers say they are extremely or very likely to switch brands if they receive inconsistent experiences across channels. Additionally, 52 percent of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t make an effort to personalize communications to them as individual. Customer expectations have shifted.
Multi-channel experiences are no longer enough. Customers want consistent, personalized experiences in real time across all channels. Brands will have to work to create and master personalized omni-channel experiences to meet customers’ expectations and keep them engaged. Look for brands to work to match (and hopefully exceed!) these expectations throughout 2018.
Here’s Why: The Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and analytics have started to change the game of customer experience. With these tools, it is becoming easier than ever for brands to use connected products to gather real time data (think: product usage, diagnostic data, and overall consumer trends ). What lies ahead in 2018 regarding IoT depends on how brands use this information.
With more, specific information to a product or person, brands can optimize highly-personalized customer experiences, and even proactively predict customer needs. In 2018, we predict more brands turning to IoT technology, big data, and analytics to not only provide better performing products, but exceptional, proactive customer experiences.