20 Jun 2019 The Future of Customer Experience – Part 1
Customer experience (CX) is now wielding an ever greater influence over business performance. In the first of a two part blog, Director Stuart Pearce reflects on the key trends that will shape the future in the next decade.
A Gartner study from four years ago predicted that by 2019 more than 50% of organizations will invest more money into the customer experience. They were right about the trend, but today’s numbers indicate that even more organizations are making CX a priority
It is clear that CX is overtaking price and product. Recent studies suggest that Millennials spend more money on experiences rather than focusing on acquiring products. But they don’t have the monopoly on this.
Perhaps this is driven by social media and opinion sites in the sharing digital ecosystem.
Apps, personalisation and machine learning are all creating the next wave in a tailored experience.
Customer experience is a series of moments of truth – moments that matter most to your customers and put your service organization to the test. How quickly can you respond and fix the problem or simply answer the question. How convenient can you make it in that critical moment?
Customers aren’t just comparing you to your competitors anymore. They are comparing you to the best service they have ever received – from any company they do business with. So, what are some companies that you enjoy doing business with? Why? Can the answer to that question be used to bring your organization up to the same level of service?
Customer expectations are shaped by the experiences they have with digital disruptors such as Uber or Amazon who make it easy for them to engage. This level of engagement is now the benchmark.
We are now in a pivotal era for brands to focus their efforts on making sure customers get value beyond the product.
Digital beats phone
We are witnessing a dramatic, rapid shift in channel preferences towards digital channels such as internet, web chat and social media.
And the two primary reasons according to customers…?
Speed and convenience.
These are now the dominating factors of any customer experience. Of course, you need to solve the customer’s problem but you need to do it fast and make it easy for the customer
Gartner predicts that by 2022 phone conversations with customer service teams will make up only 12% of service interactions – down from 41% in 2017, whereas web chat and messaging services are the fastest growing channels.
Customers want to help themselves
The digital ecosystem means that more customers want to take care of business themselves as they become more self-reliant and self-sufficient than ever before. According to recent Gartner research, 81% of all customers across industries attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative.
Think about the first thing that comes to your mind when you have a problem? Will you pick up your phone to make a call, or do you Google it first?
There will always be the need to speak to a human being, especially when it comes to complex questions or problems.
This will come in the form of agent-assisted self service. Whenever the customer can’t find the right answer themselves (or with the help of a chatbot) human help should be right there, in the context of the current interaction.
This is an area that can win or fail in an instant: Many organizations invest in and drive their customers to (often poor or inadequate) self service to deflect service calls and reduce the overall cost of service.
This will not pay off. In fact, it may backfire and actually increase your call volume and decrease customer satisfaction.
Customer Journey Mapping to gain Momentum
Businesses want to understand the end-to-end journeys of their customers – whether they came from online or offline, the path they followed, who they interacted with, and the ultimate decision about what they purchased or which service they decided to use.
This is an area with the least maturity in a business and frequently the cause if traditional assumptions to be still made. This will be the subject of a future blog.
New Organisational Structures to support Customer Experience
Digital transformation has been a priority for many organisations over the past 18 months,
In a bid to ensure that digital transformation supports CX improvements, we will see a growing number of brands seeking out new organisational structures and operating models. This is to ensure that customer needs are driving strategy and that there is alignment with the employee culture and the systems and processes that support them.
The challenge is that many organisations aren’t yet able to join functions, departments and capabilities together in order to deliver a consistent, meaningful customer experience.
Customer experience will rise to the top of the marketing agenda. Customer service and customer experience has been, and will continue to be, one of the best marketing investments a company can make.
CX is also about an agile IT environment to respond to dynamic customer trends. By owning customer insight, marketing should take the lead to facilitate better collaboration to help break down silos. They should give a single view of journeys and empower departments to make the right decisions quickly.
It is the interaction with the customer at the front line that matters. Senior levels exist to support this to be its best. This inverted organisational pyramid will also be explored in a future blog.
In the next part, we will explore how businesses must understand customer emotions, personalise the experience and look to how new tech and big data is changing the landscape.
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