10 Digital Customer Experience Trends to Watch

Posted at Jun 21, 2019 2:14:00 PM by THAT Agency | Share

The best plans you have for your brand aren't always realized. Your customer experience strategy doesn't always find the results you seek. Gartner recently surveyed executives and found that only 22% think they have a customer experience platform that exceeds satisfaction goals. Yet 81% of executives believe they'll compete on customer experience in the future.


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Both of those can't hold. The difference is that executives have the metrics to measure customer satisfaction. What will be in the future is simply a matter of hope. It's important to compete on digital customer experience today.

Let's tackle a number of digital customer experience trends by starting with a few that also improve your employees' abilities and productivity.

1. Employee Experience = Customer Experience

Any customer experience strategy relies on the employees who carry it out. Those employees should be engaged and responsive. Too many businesses force this as if it can just be ordered, and that isn't sustainable in the long-term. Employees who have a better experience at their job will outperform those who don’t.

Collect data on employee experience so that the business can stay a step ahead of keeping them satisfied. Analytics can be useful in parsing it out, but keep in mind this is to keep your employees enthusiastic, not to police them or make them fearful.

An employee experience portal can help you gather and prioritize this data, as well as offer them a single location from which they can keep track of anything related to administration, HR, or payroll. It also offers a way to keep communication clear and effective across a range of devices.

2. Automation as a Staff Complement

Chatbots are remarkably agile creations that are easy to implement. Their strength isn't in their ability to seem human – many customers are fully aware they're not talking to someone real. Their strength is in their ability to get customers where they want to go very quickly. Chatbots should be able to burrow down through your product line and offer precise recommendations very quickly. This means asking clear questions and being able to make sense of them. This can produce quick and reliable conversions.

Isn't automation replacing people, though? In some industries, yes. Not so in marketing or customer experience. Chatbots are actually linked to improvements in both employee satisfaction and productivity.

Your employees can't manage the sheer amount of inquiries that come through social media messaging. If they tried, they would be slow to respond to many customers. Juggling conversations would mean confusing customers. Human beings just aren't wired to have several conversations all happening at once. Chatbots can handle most straightforward inquiries and pass on those that require a more human touch to your employees.

3. Collaborative Staff Tools

Changing your customer experience strategy used to take weeks. Employees needed to be retrained, new tools needed one-on-one meetings to get employees comfortable with them. IT staff would have to stop everything else they were doing just to get everything underway, and the shift would incorporate a very noticeable lag where employees were shifting from one strategy to the next. If an employee fell behind, every customer they dealt with would have an awkward engagement that wasn't useful to the business.

Staff are much more data fluent than they were even a few brief years ago. Using collaborative tools in your daily routine can mean your customer strategy is always evolving and that everyone can share their own expertise, ideas, and questions quickly.

You no longer need a meeting around a table or a one-on-one meeting. Employees can rely on central platforms for staff training, collaborative projects, and new strategy and tool implementation. In a data fluent staff environment where collaboration is the norm, both scheduled implementations and last-minute adjustments can all be taken in stride, as a group, in a way that ensures every employee is able to keep up.

4. Predictive Analytics

Netflix makes year-end announcements about which of its programs are doing well and how different types of people are watching its programs. This means collecting a ton of data relating to what people are watching, what kind of devices they're watching on, how long certain programs keep viewers interested, whether viewers binge or pace a show out.

This helps them learn how viewers use their platform, what sells and what doesn't, what shows are worth re-investing in, re-buying rights to, or renewing ... and it helps them burrow more deeply into viewing habits and trends they can take advantage of.

They often find funny bits of data, such as sharing that one user in the UK watched “Bee Movie” 357 times in one year. Stories like this help give the brand personality and disarm wariness over this kind of data collection.

That said, keep a tight focus on data that helps your business know what to do next. Focusing on extraneous elements won't help you anticipate, and the point of predictive analytics is to anticipate with accuracy.

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5. Personalization

Consumers are overwhelmed by options today. They have to filter out a ridiculous amount of advertising noise. You know what this experience is like – ignoring marketing that intrudes on your daily life because it's so non-specific.

Personalized advertising centered around maintaining customer connections is a must. This can take more traditional forms such as emails or newsletters and more aggressive approaches such as personalized recommendations and wishlist generation.

The next step beyond this is to personalize the customer experience. In a way, this develops a unique customer experience strategy for every customer. You know how frustrating it is as a customer when you need to give someone information they should already have logged and accessible.

This kind of personalization essentially relies on profiles to track users, maintain personalization, and deliver relevant marketing across different devices. Ideally, you'll be able to create different groups of customers in your database based on purchasing habits and other tendencies, integrate a CRM tool, and tailor content quickly and efficiently for each group.

6. Millennials Demand Transparency

Millennials are killing everything, right? Olive Garden, motorcycles, sunny days, the list goes on. Yet the demand for transparency allows for more agile brands to outpace larger competitors. Social media demands transparency and punishes organizations at the drop of a post when they fail to realize it.

Customers today have an expectation of how their data will be handled, who will have access to it, what goes into a price, why extra fees are added. When you can know whatever you want by clicking on a link, when that information isn't provided, it makes the customer distrust you.

Few things can lose a sale faster than a customer feeling like they can't trust you with their data, or that you're not being transparent enough on an extra fee. This doesn't mean you need to hit them with a wall of text explaining everything in legal language. Transparency means explaining in a way they'll understand. Explain it like you would to someone across a lunch table: quickly, plainly, and in a friendly tone.

If you choose to eat a fee and not pass it on, make sure they know this. Obviously, this helps the customer know you're doing something for them to make their purchase easier. At the same time, some customers may know a fee exists and will look for it; they don't want to be confused that they can't find it.

7. Augmented Reality

Aside from transparency and truthfulness, millennials also love playing pretend through augmented reality. They're a complicated bunch. Jokes aside, augmented reality is a powerful tool that's still in its initial phases. The fashion industry has pioneered many tools here, allowing users to put on clothing over their image on a device to see what they'd look like in it. Certain adjustments are made in real time to accommodate for height and other measurements so that the resulting image is accurate in its look.

IKEA offers an app that allows users to place furniture and other products in existing spaces. This allows them to see how a chair might look in a space without actually buying it, dragging it in, and only then judging its fit.

Your forays into an augmented reality app don't have to be perfect. In fact, they won't be. Some of the most popular apps offers more cartoonish looks where appropriate. As in most places, functionality is the most important priority here. Some of the biggest augmented reality apps include ones that tell you what stars, planets, and constellations you're looking at when you hold your phone up to the night sky. Others simply let you doodle over your surroundings, or draw virtual tattoos on each other.

Be creative with enabling your customers to take this kind of control over your products...at least in augmented reality.

8. Voice Assistant Technology

In an era of planned obsolescence and customer distrust toward advertising, it's the experience that really makes the difference. Voice assistant technology is driving the marketplace, and nearly three-quarters of those with a voice-activated speaker use it daily. Consumers increasingly rely on them, which means coming up with a voice technology-driven commerce option for their shopping experiences.

9. Omnichannel Delivery

Omnichannel delivery focuses on maintaining an experience from device to device, platform to platform, and app to app. You want to be able to bring a message from social media to your website and onto your app. The customer should be able to pick up where they left off on any device – this keeps them from having to start over, which is frustrated and offers a much lower conversion rate.

In a nutshell: if there's something you can do in relation to your business on one platform, a customer should be able to do it on all platforms. That might be buying a product, scheduling an appointment, making a customization, accessing content, continuing a conversation, the whole works.

10. Security Matters

Most app developers acknowledge they've spent minimal time and resources on security. If you're going to access or collect any data through an app, this isn't good enough. Not only will it risk getting your business nailed through GDPR compliance, it also risks a PR nightmare.

For a brand to be trustworthy today, it must meet and exceed security expectations. Customers have their information floating everywhere today, and little way to control it. They've resigned themselves to this reality in many ways, but they're not happy about it. One of the most important digital customer experience trends to keep in mind is public vengeance.

If a brand screws up data privacy, customers will take their discontent out on whatever brand failed in a very public way. This can and will continue to collapse businesses that cannot handle this responsibility.

These kind of security issues seem overwhelming, but they're really not. If you don't meet these standards, start addressing them one-by-one, but do start addressing them.

Enable customers to utilize two-factor authentication. Make sure that you at least have identity and device-level access rights implemented for your own employees, if not app- and file-level access rights as well. Utilize 24/7 site monitoring. Implement firewalls. Have a disaster recovery plan. Customers won't be satisfied if your business takes a week to recover simply because you don't have business continuity in place.

These digital customer experience trends are not going anywhere. Do you have a plan to implement them into your business model?

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