By Lauren Kindzierski, VP of Solutions and Capabilities at HGS
This is part I of our Customer 2020 two-part series. Text has been previously published by SOCAP.
We are living in the age of the customer. Today’s consumers know more, expect more, demand first-class service, and are a lot less loyal. The year 2020 used to sound so futuristic; however, believe it or not, it’s around the corner. So, who will win in the year 2020? Arguably, it will be the world’s most innovative companies – those that can anticipate the future needs of their digital customers, while creating memorable customer experiences.
The customer of 2020 will be more informed and in charge of the experiences they receive. They will expect companies to know their individual needs and personalize their experience. Immediate resolution will not be fast enough as customers will expect the brands they do business with to proactively anticipate their needs, and provide self-service options that go far beyond a simple FAQ page.
In order to prepare for the Customer Experience 2020, customer service professionals must reflect upon the disruption, changes and trends have affected the service industry. To that end, here’s our summary of disruption and changes. Part II will cover those trends that will help move our organizations into the age of digital transformation.
Disruption and Changes that have Affected the Service Industry
- Customer experience has been shaped by omni-channel, mobile, and millennials: Millennial customers—80 million in the U.S. alone—are about to become the most important (and disruptive) customers your business will ever see. Millennials are larger than the Baby Boomer generation, and are about to control the largest share of wallet as well. According to Forbes, it’s estimated they will be spending $200 billion annually by 2017 and $10 trillion over their lifetimes as consumers. They are ultra-connected with their social networks, value individualized experiences, as well as transparency and input. Armed with multiple devices and on-demand content, this group has the highest expectations when it comes to service. They demand effortless experiences, and answers within seconds not minutes, profoundly changing customer engagement strategies across the globe.
- Customer Intelligence & Analytics – Data Analytics teams have learned how to create a holistic view of the customer experience. Upon this digital disruption discovery, there has been an increase in demand for customer insights throughout the enterprise. Customer-centric organizations must know what the customer is thinking, at the time they are thinking it. For this reason, brands are moving away from information delivery and towards enterprise accessibility.
- Internet of Things is placing much more importance on self-service: The Internet of Things is one form of digital disruption that is forcing customer service professionals to rethink their customer engagement and service delivery models. The Internet of Things is where physical objects or "things" are becoming wirelessly connected and embedded within electronics, software, and sensors that allow these objects to collect and exchange data. The connectivity then allows these physical objects to be controlled remotely via smartphone apps. Customer service teams tasked with servicing an IoT product are finding that leading with a self-service strategy is key. Consumers will start by tapping digital screens and searching a knowledge base for answers, then if they still can’t resolve the issue customer service professionals have the ability to intervene by tapping into the physical object to diagnose and predict problems, assist consumers via video, access past purchase history, and provide a better personalized experience. The IoT self-service strategy has forced customer service professionals to make significant improvements in their self-service knowledge bases. These knowledge bases no longer just reside on a company’s website or company intranet. Instead, they needed to be accessible from all products, devices, and mobile apps and updated with easy to read product manuals, contain more visuals and videos, and organized by subject.
- Augmented Reality is another form of digital disruption that has been a game changer for customer service. Augmented Reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. The best way to describe AR is a blur between virtual reality and gamification. This technology has been a strategic differentiator for companies needing help evolving its tech-support. With the help of augmented reality, consumers can aim their smartphone at a product, and a 3D version of the product with pop up on, along with interactive guides, how-to videos, helpful tips or even an ability to connect with customer service via video.