A Walker study back in 2013 projected that customer experience would overtake both price and product as the number one business-to-business brand differentiator by 2020. As we head into a new decade, it appears that CX is still being highly prioritized by companies of all industries.
There is a convincing financial argument to be made in favour of investing in customer experience management, as 84% of organizations working to improve customer experience have reported an increase in revenue as a result. 32% of customers will stop doing business with a brand they love after just one negative experience.
CX has also continued to influence businesses because customer expectations continue to rise. A Salesforce study found that 67% of customers say their expectations have never been higher than they are now. This means that businesses need to keep investing in their customer experience just to keep pace and that major initiatives will be required for companies to go above and beyond.
Here are some ways brands are looking to do this heading into the next decade:
Virtual and Augmented Reality
The last few years have seen a number of brands across different industries adopt VR and AR into their customer experience. Using it to give customers a chance to “try before they buy,” brands are making it easier for customers to see their products and services from the comfort of their own homes.
Augmented reality can also let customers see what products would actually look like in their homes, something that could be very useful for furniture vendors.
While there are obvious limitations to this technology, VR and AR both present tremendous potential that transcends entertainment-focused industries.
AI and Chatbots
Another effort to improve customer experience and create a more efficient customer journey has been the integration of chatbots into company websites. Research has indicated that customers respond better to various forms of online-based chat, either AI or with live support, than they do to telephone support lines.
Chatbots have particularly gained momentum because of AI’s rising popularity, as some visitors to the company website might be interested in engaging with one just for the novelty of doing so. However, many chatbots are not based in artificial intelligence, and are instead scripted to understand certain words and respond to patterns and situations. This can easily lead to unsatisfactory customer interactions.
Personalizing Every Aspect of CX
Customer-focused businesses have been consumed by the trend towards personalization in recent years. We already know that customer expectations are astronomically high, and with so many options to choose from, customers expect brands to cater to their exact needs.
Personalized experiences can spark impulse purchases as well, with nearly half of all buyers saying this has happened to them. Unfortunately for brands, there is a significant gap when it comes to the degree of personalization that customers expect and what is actually delivered to them.
Personalization can mean a wide variety of things depending on the industry and the way the brand is interacting with their customers. This can be all about providing offers that are based on purchasing history, or about service that makes customers feel like they are part of a community.
Online vendors have typically been most willing to use the customer’s past buying decisions to attempt to influence future purchases, but this is something customers are expecting from brick and mortar businesses. A Segment survey finds that 41% of consumers say they expect employees in a company’s physical store to know their online purchase history, but just 19% have actually experienced this.
Key Takeaways For 2020 and Beyond
These elements of customer experience management appear to be critical to customer-focused businesses in the future, but beyond investing in resources to attempt to capitalize on these trends, many brands are uncertain about what exactly needs to be done to improve CX. Even though the importance of customer experience is fully understood, CustomerThink reports that many companies are still unsure about what specifically they need to change.
Since CX is often framed as a vague buzz phrase, this is no surprise. However, the companies that end up with a winning approach to customer experience are often the ones that simply listen to what customers have to say and open up as many channels as possible for them to say it.
Creating multiple communication channels with guests will give brands a more complete sense of their customers’ wants and needs, setting them up for success in the new year and beyond.
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