We’ve had a good look into our magical crystal ball and predicted the Customer Experience (CX) trends to watch out for in 2015.
There are lots of them, but we’ve narrowed it down to the essential six, so hold on tight and be in for a CX of a ride.
1. Think multi multi multi
Adopting a multi-channel approach is as crucial as ever, as consumers use multiple devices these days, especially to research products and services before they buy (just think about it - how many do you use on a daily basis?). When listing them all you’ll see what we mean; laptop, tablet, work smart phone, private smart phone, if you even include lean-back media such as TV, radio, print and OOH - it’s a pretty extensive list.
How brands engage with their customers across all of these devices will be an ever increasing challenge. The user experience needs to be optimised for various screen sizes and operating systems. As always, the priority needs to be to maximise conversion rates. One size fits all? Think again. One way of managing this challenge could be to offer added value on digital touchpoints (which can in turn increase customer loyalty), although if you are operating in the B2B space, you may want to stick to a simple solution.
2. On that note, think more mobile
We’re marketing on mobile, but we need to get better at it. As mentioned above, consumers are searching for information on mobile devices before deciding to buy, and although most of the online shopping still happens on PCs, mobile device shopping sales continue to grow. What does this mean for brands? Brands need to deliver improved and more relevant information where it’s needed the most. This will ultimately push consumers to the right point of sales on mobile.
So we’re more mobile savvy and more informed than ever. Too much information perhaps? The purchase journey for consumers is way more clued-up than it ever has been. A scary fact from Google1 demonstrates that people use over ten sources of information to make a purchase decision. That’s a lot of sources! (This includes family, friends and TV ads). Brands and retailers need to analyse real-time data and understand when and where in the customer journey they’re best placed to convince consumers to buy.
One huge trend globally is virtual reality products for consumers, which we'll see will break into the mainstream soon. As a follow on effect, this opens up new interactive ways of creating customer experiences.
The developments in mobile don’t stop there. We reckon that all industries can and will be affected by innovation in mobile technology. Just look at businesses like Uber and Airbnb who base their businesses on mobile platforms. It’s been predicted that they’ll continue their steady rise, as will the trend for more companies to embed mobile devices into their offerings.
3. It’s all about the journey
As the consumer landscape becomes ever more fragmented, tools such as customer journey mapping will remain a priority in 2015.
Identifying pain points in the customer experience will not only help you understand the unique journeys of your customers but will be valuable for knowing what to improve. This can be brought to light through intuitive customer feedback tools, such as Customer Monitor.
Customer journey mapping is all about understanding how your customers see the world and being able to respond to that. What role does your company play in their journey? The actual value of customer journey mapping comes from using the insights derived to change the decisions made across the organisation. We’ll witness more companies developing their unique customer journey maps, as outcomes from messy brainstorming sessions involving illegible scribbles and average takeaway coffees.
4. The continued rise of customer D.A.T.A.
Finally, the time of the data geek has truly come. Being fully data driven will allow for powerful insights to drive and retain sales.
Customer data is no longer a scary thing. It’s a not new proposition, but the way data is used and adopted is changing. We’re investing more into customer insights, and companies are keen to understand and get closer to their customers than ever before. Don’t have the resource to hire in-house analysts? There are plenty of clever and increasingly intuitive solutions available on the market, even to smaller companies with smaller budgets.
According to Google Trends, the phrase customer experience management (CEM) didn’t even register as a phrase ten years ago. A lot can happen in a decade.
Importantly, customer experience is where your competition is investing their money. The challenge, as always for businesses, is to be strategic and intelligent about how this money is invested.
Gartner predicts that by 2017, 50 percent of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovation.2 The worth of CEM is huge, according to MarketsandMarkets, CEM will be worth $USD 8.39 billion by 2019.
5. It’s all about me
Of course, once you know more about your customers, you can focus on creating more relevant and personalised experiences for them, when they use your products and services.
In 2015 we’ll see an increased consumer demand for personalised customer experiences. Again, this is not new but the investments and developments in this area will be greater and more refined.
Customers are smarter, more connected – and consequently have less time. Similarly, your competitors are getting better at using data to understand their customers. The obvious consequence being that your customers will need ever more relevant servicing. If you can’t provide this for them, chances are that’ll be the last you’ll see of them. When you have your customisation nailed, and it’s based on the authentic needs of your customers, it will be what makes you unique in a competitive marketplace.
6. All of a sudden, culture is a thing
Well, perhaps not all that sudden, although culture is now a huge factor in employee engagement conversations and when setting objectives, which was not on the agenda for many Australasian corporates just a few years ago. If you want to be winning in CEM in 2015, your organisation will make culture a priority.
Culture is a key factor in employee engagement. Employee engagement and experience is just as important (if not more so) than customer experience. Why? The relation between these two is clear. If your employees are happy and motivated, it shows, and translates onto the experience your customers have with you. Your employees are the ones who deliver on the promises your brand makes.
Further, according to research by Gallup3, companies with more highly engaged employees enjoy 147 per cent higher earnings per share (EPS) than their competition.
Organisational culture is not only defined by the “nice to haves” like getting fruit on Tuesdays and your birthday day off. It’s a critical factor in every company these days – it’s what will keep your employees staying on for the long term. And it will help with your customer retention levels as well, for the reasons described above. It’s about creating what is often referred to as a customer-centric culture in an organisation.
That's it folks – we hope you’ve enjoyed our rundown of the top predictions for 2015. Hopefully this has been helpful for your organisation – do let us know your feedback and any comments or questions you may have!
If you're keen to know more about customer experience management, and especially what to avoid: check out our guide below.
1. Google ZMOT Handbook
2. Gartner, October 2014
3. Gallup, June 2013