Posted by Lauren Kindzierski
As we enter into the New Year and begin to work on our 2016 roadmaps, it’s a good time to reevaluate our strategies. What are this year’s emerging customer experience trends? Here are the 10 customer experience disrupters that we predict will be game changers in 2016.
- Reducing Effort
In 2014 and 2015, we saw many more companies retiring Net Promoter Score (NPS), to start leveraging the Customer Effort Score (CES) for predictive measurement of the customer experience and customer loyalty. The theory behind the metric is that customers don’t want to put forth the effort to switch channels, call back, wait on hold, be transferred, and push 25 buttons. If you can reduce customer effort, you can increase customer loyalty. Study results published in the Harvard Business Review state that low effort scores led to a 94% likelihood to repurchase and an 88% chance to increase spend. At the core of the customer effort methodology is the principle that we should focus on reducing bad experiences and not waste our time and resources on creating ”wow” that has no imperial ROI. In 2016, we foresee practical customer engagement solutions designed to balance the moments that matter with each consumer with the required business results to grow revenue and retain customers while reducing operating expenses.
- Voice of the Customer Analytics
In 2016, be prepared to start seeing voice of the customer dashboards that capture all relevant data points in real-time and use text analytics to decode what’s being said. These single-view dashboards can also capture customer sentiment from phone call transcripts (voice-to-text), social media conversations, product rating and reviews, chat logs, idea portals, and customer online community discussions. These dashboards can help customer care centers identify a PR crisis waiting to happen, capture new ideas, and uncover quality or warranty issues, spot trends, fix problems, and, most importantly, personalize the engagement with a customer.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
According to ABI Research, by 2020 more than 30 billion additional devices will be wirelessly connected to physical things — TVs, washing machines, thermostats, refrigerators, and even cars. Customer service will be forced to take one step further in its evolution and engage with the customer on the device itself. Consumers will tap digital screens and search knowledge bases for answers, video chat live with a customer service representative, schedule a service appointment, or join a community discussion.Self-service knowledge bases will be present on all devices, from mobile apps to vending machines. This means that your customer service center’s product and service materials (both internal and external) will need to be easier to read, contain more visuals, have more videos, and be organized by subject. Eventually these devices will know the customer’s purchase history, their personal preferences, and will be able to both detect and predict problems. In 2016, smart brands will be building self-service solutions powered by contextual knowledge bases – see trends 4 and 5.
- Strategic Self-Service
Today’s mobile revolution has consumers placing high demands on customer service departments to evolve their support models. The self-service trend is growing significantly. There are many different forms of self service, from FAQs on a website to how to videos, peer-to-peer communities, idea portals, top tip guides, and more.In 2016, self-service will mature to encompass strategy and insights. Self-service must become the foundation for future interactions (the starting point for how we design customer journeys) with agent assistance integrated in seamlessly when it adds value to the consumer’s interaction. To keep up, businesses need to focus on outcomes, like measuring the effectiveness of FAQs in terms of resolving customer issues and applying interaction analytics to top contact driver analysis. In 2016, it’s time to rethink self-service, from the right strategic perspective.
- Contextual Knowledge Bases for Personalization and Prediction
As companies gain a deeper understanding of customers through research and predictive analytics, they will use that information to develop more individualized customer experiences. Today, it’s not enough to have a knowledge base. The best, most insightful business intelligence is developed from a contextual knowledge base that can be used by both agents and customers to predict the right answer based on that particular customer’s data, situation, location, and needs. The end result is faster responses, increased issue resolution, reduced customer effort, and happier customers.
- Automated Text Message Customer Service and “Click to Text”
In 2014 and 2015, we saw some leading-edge brands start to offer two-way text message as a customer service channel. Unlike one-way text message alerts, two-way text messaging allows your brand representative to communicate with your customers through SMS messaging. This year, we’ll see an exponential increase in the number of companies offering text as a service channel. Additionally, we’ll soon start seeing a “Click-to-Text” option, which will allow customers to contact customer service via text message after visiting a company’s website from their smartphones. With the click of a button, customers can now launch a new SMS to the customer service phone number. They’ll also continue to leverage text customer service with evolving text message automation to drive issue resolution. It’s convenient for customers who prefer texting (as many consumer plans include unlimited texts whereas competing messaging option require data usage) and a win for businesses, because they no longer require an expensive agents on the other end of that two-way text.
- Social Profiling
Think about all of the information you can get from looking at a person’s public social network profiles. These public profiles are a gold mine of CX personalization data, with details from an individual’s age, gender, marital status, and employer to granular details on favorite movies, books, and places traveled. All of this customer preference data builds effective social profiling, which can be used for personalization, customer segmentation, and persona development strategies.
- Taking a Household Customer Service Approach
Over the years, customer service professionals have done a great job collecting customer data on every call such as the customer’s first name, last name, serial number, account number, and address. However, where customer service has fallen short is linking customer records by family or household. Knowing exactly who makes up the household is important because it could present previously untapped cross sell or upsell opportunities. In 2016, expect to see more companies leveraging the power of predictive analytics: knowing the household could be key to this strategy.
- Connecting on an Emotional Level
A Gartner study found 89% of companies plan to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. This means moving from a “market-and-sell” mindset to more of a “sense-and-feel” customer engagement approach. Today’s customers expect the brands they do business with to “know me,” “engage me,” “make my life simple,” “anticipate my needs,” “feel what I feel,” and “reward me.” In 2016, expect to see more empathy training inside customer care centers, text and sentiment analytics being deployed, a focus on reducing effort, and predictive modeling used to predict emotion.
- Digital Transformation to Unify the Customer Experience
Businesses are working hard to figure out how best to integrate and connect all of the disparate communication channels, along with the backend data structure needed to personalize and reduce effort along the customer journey. Putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together to optimize the customer experience and make your brand more competitive is a huge undertaking, but HGS is getting global brands up and running on digital platforms with integrated digital agents in as little as 90-days with pilots that are designed to incubate your best approaches to empower customers to help themselves.Today’s consumers have become “rewired” mentally and emotionally to their smartphones and tablets, which has caused them to abandon traditional customer support channels in favor of digital and self-serve options.If digital transformation is not a part of your brand’s customer service strategy in 2016, it should be.