What are your customer experience (CX) priorities this year? If you're like the majority of other brands, you want to improve upon this important aspect of your business. After all, your customers are the lifeblood of your business. So we put together some of our top CX trends for 2020. Apply these principles to your marketing strategy and you'll have an advantage over your competitors this year.
1. Artificial Intelligence Transforms Data
Artificial intelligence. It sounds futuristic—and it is—but it plays a big role in how many businesses operate today. AI transforms the data you collect and determines how you can use that data to market to your customers. AI can save you time and money, but it can also affect customer experience. No matter how large or small your business, you can perform tasks like replying to queries, nurturing leads, or managing complex incoming data using AI.
Self-Service Equals Faster Service
If you do any shopping at all, you've likely noticed the self-service areas of popular retail stores like Walmart, Target, and others. You'll find similar technology setups at banks (automated tellers), convenience stores and restaurants (order/make purchases via an app), and hotels (robot butler). Then there's Uber and Lyft. They're still aiming to replace all human drivers with robots. You can reduce or eliminate your interaction with a cashier, store employee, or human being via AI.
Over 80% of U.S. shoppers have used self-checkout lanes because they're perceived as being faster. The majority of those same customers want to see self-checkout sections everywhere they shop. And as far as Uber and Lyft, replacing drivers with robots makes good business sense. In fact, it looks like a necessity if they want to stay in business.
AI empowers self-service to save time and money. Businesses use chatbots and virtual assistants to answer frequently asked questions so their customers don't have to wait on hold for the next available customer service representative. It's not a perfect solution, but in many cases, customers are finding answers to their common questions via AI.
AI Affects Personalization
AI provides personalized content, too. Think about your own shopping behaviors. There are times when you don't even have to search for the products you need. You can find recommendations based on your past history. Consider the videos and movies you watch on YouTube and Netflix. Because you watched one type of show, AI determines that you might be interested in similar offerings. So they're presented to you as possibilities.
When you view and like certain photos on Instagram, more of the same kinds of images will show up in your search results. The same process applies to services like Amazon (product ideas), Spotify (music recommendations), Hulu (TV show suggestions), Bands in Town (concert announcements), and more.
AI also provides a way for marketing departments to deliver personalized content to their customers. Consumers are more inclined to buy from you when they know you've taken the time to get to know them better. The personalization statistics don't lie. Over 90% of smart marketers use personalization techniques. A similar percentage of customers will shop with brands that give them this personalized experience.
AI Never Sleeps
Unlike humans, AI never sleeps. This allows you to provide your customers with 24/7 service. It also eliminates the need to hire round-the-clock personnel to answer questions. That frees up the customer to choose when they can get the help they need, rather than waiting for you to be "open for business." We live in an age where 24/7 is the norm. You can empower your customers with this self-service AI option.
Give Your Customers a Voice—Literally
We see AI in our everyday lives. Alexa and Google Home can tell you about your weather forecast, but they can also help you buy movie tickets and popcorn, schedule bill payments, and order products without even picking up your smartphone. Customers are demanding these types of experiences and the businesses that deliver them are a step ahead of their competitors.
2. Omnichannel Marketing Unites All Your Marketing Channels
Omnichannel marketing is not a new concept among modern-day marketing execs. It's a proven channel that produces results for practically any business, large or small. Your customers don't care what it's called, though. They also don't care if it's one of the top customer service trends this year. They just want to connect with you however and whenever they want. They demand convenience and they need the order and delivery process to work quickly and efficiently.
Omnichannel marketing adopts a multichannel sales approach, but it does so via a coordinated shopping experience across each of those channels. The customer has options. They can:
- Shop online from any of their electronic devices.
- Call your telephone number.
- Shop at your physical location, if you have one.
Whatever method they choose, their shopping experience must coordinate throughout all the channels. That's omnichannel marketing. Each channel works in unison with the others. This allows the customer to select their own channel(s) along the customer journey. Let's look at an example.
Home Depot's Omnichannel Marketing Strategy
Home Depot is the largest home improvement retailer in the U.S. It has one of the most effective omnichannel strategies. According to Internet Retailer's 2019 Omnichannel Report, Home Depot understands its customers. Furthermore, they understand the modern-day customer. So they provide the tools their customers need to get what they want when they want it.
Have you ever wandered into a Home Depot wondering how to find the product you're looking for? It's a big store, right? Do they even have the product you're looking for? Yet one visit to their app allows you to find out if they have what you need and if so, what aisle it's located in. Of course, you can also buy that in-stock item online beforehand and pick it up at the store or curbside.
Omnichannel marketing works when you bring all your marketing channels together. No matter how many channels you use, make sure they work in tandem so your customers can have the best possible experience.
3. Data Management: Get a Singular View of Your Customers
Data is what allows you to create personalized experiences for your customers. The more data you have available to you, the better you can use it to improve upon your everyday interactions with your customers. Of course, it has to be the right data.
You can collect all kinds of information from visitors to your website or customers that have purchased from you before. The goal, however, is to develop a unified view of your customer. Your organization needs to break down the data that exists between all your departments so CX staff and key stakeholders can better understand your customers.
Disney's MagicBands Collect Data
Magic bands? That sounds like the perfect companion piece for a visit to the "Most Magical Place on Earth." But these colorful bracelets offer visitors more than just a fun, fancy accessory to wear. Disney's goal was to get rid of any friction within the Disney World experience, replacing your need for a wallet, room key, or park tickets. Simultaneously, they also give Disney all the data they need to understand your preferences so they can better market to you in the future.
MagicBands provide valuable information like:
- Your location within the theme park at any given time.
- What attractions you visit.
- How long you have to wait in line.
- How much money you spend and where you spend it.
Now that's magical data management. The customer enjoys an unencumbered vacation and entertainment experience. At the same time, Disney collects all the information they need about your behaviors, habits, and trends within their park.
4. Customer Experience Trends: Augmented Reality
Certain new technologies can help your business interact with your customers in innovative ways. Look at augmented reality. This emerging technology superimposes a computer-generated image over your customer's view of the real world.
Take Warby Parker as an example. Using their app, you can try on glasses without really trying on the glasses. A computer-generated pair of Warby Parker glasses is superimposed on your face via your smartphone or tablet. It's a pretty realistic take on how you'd actually look wearing your frames of choice. Then they throw the omnichannel experience into gear by allowing you to order the glasses you just "tried on." Once they're ready, you can pick them up at a local Warby Parker store or have them delivered directly to your home.
5. Hyper-Personalization Uses Real-Time Data
We talked earlier about personalization and AI's effect on it. Let's take that concept a step further with hyper-personalization. This is the future of marketing, so it's unquestionably one of the top customer experience trends for 2020. Hyper-personalization takes our data findings via AI and combines them with real-time data to present more relevant content and product and service information to each customer. Over half of consumers expect brands to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they buy anything.
If you've ever used the Spotify app, you've experienced hyper-personalization—most likely without even realizing it. Spotify has more than 140-million users, so they're at the top of the music-streaming heap. By taking the songs you’ve listened to and combining those songs with other users who have listened to the same songs, Spotify creates a personalized playlist for you. This changes in real-time. For example, depending upon how many times a song is streamed or added to a playlist, they can make recommendations to other similar users. Spotify's hyper-personalization process is about matching similar music to matching profiles.
Amazon's the king of hyper-personalization. Their recommendation engine produces over 35% of their conversions. That's because each user receives an exclusive, hyper-personalized experience.
6. Transparency Begins By Listening to Your Customers
The more transparent your business, the better chance you have of developing a loyal following. For your business to thrive, you need happy customers. Lots of them. Naturally, you also need a great product and/or service, but if you want to maximize your success, develop a transparent culture for your customers.
- Listen to your customers. Customers want to be heard. If you're really listening, you'll solve their problems and win their loyalty. Let them know you heard their voice and that you genuinely care about their opinions.
- Let your customers know what's really happening. Provide open and honest information about every aspect of your business. How are your products made? Where do the materials originate? Let your customers see what's behind the curtain of your business, so to speak, and you'll earn their trust.
- Use social media to connect and communicate. Don't just create a presence on social media. Use it to reveal the inner workings of your organization and to solve your customer's problems as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Transparency Begins from Within
You've heard about the importance of company culture, but did you know it affects everyone associated with your business, including your customers? It's true that one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. That's why it's important to also look inward when you're dealing with the transparency of your organization. Here are a few transparency tips that will ultimately help to improve your customer's experience.
- Interact with employees honestly—from the top down. All-employee meetings or small-group interactions create a transparent culture. Talk with those on the front lines of your business.
- Develop an open-door policy. This shows you have nothing to hide and you're open to suggestions and input from your employees.
- Share company updates with all employees. Make sure every employee knows what's going on within the company. Share your successes as a team, but be forthcoming about negative information, too.
As you become a more transparent organization, your company culture will improve and your customer experience will benefit from the positive results.
7. Retention Marketing is the New Marketing
It costs five to 25 times more money to find new customers than it does to keep your current ones. That's why retention marketing has become such a big deal. In fact, many modern-day marketers believe that retention marketing is the new marketing.
Naturally, if you buy into this philosophy, it doesn't mean you should stop looking for new customers. It just means you can't forget about marketing to those customers who've already purchased your product or service. Stay attentive to their needs and you'll develop a loyal following.
Dan Gingiss is a CX speaker, consultant, author, and podcaster. He has more than 20 years of professional experience working with brands like McDonald’s, Discover, and Humana. Dan believes that customer experience will begin to draw from the budgets and resources of sales departments.
"So many companies, especially in the B2B space, are laser-focused on sales goals. But what they're missing is the 'leaky bucket' on the other end. Customers are leaving in droves because of a poor customer experience."
That's where retention marketing enters the picture. Your brand can more readily keep its current roster of customers by improving their overall experience. Concentrate on their needs while also recruiting new customers.
"The fix is to focus just as much on keeping the customers you already have as you do on acquiring new ones, because the customers who stay will spend more, be more loyal, and tell their friends and colleagues about you. By eliminating pain points and finding ways to enhance the existing experience, you'll stop the leaky bucket and actually put less pressure on your sales team."
As that aforementioned leaky bucket runs dry, you'll not only retain more customers, you'll turn them into loyal ones.
8. Tangible Customer Experiences Never Go Out of Style
Let's step away from all the technology for a moment and get back to the basics of customer service—like talking to a real person or receiving a handwritten message. Somewhere amidst all the emails and text messages, we still long for something more personal. We want a human connection.
When you receive a handwritten note from a business thanking you for your purchase, it comes as a pleasant surprise. It alters (or at the very least improves) your perception of that business.
Simply Written allows you to achieve this type of tangible success by helping you create and deliver digitally handwritten business notes to your customers. This gives your patrons a personal message that speaks volumes about your brand. It shows that you care enough to send a heartfelt message.
Contact us to find out how digitally handwritten business notes can help your brand succeed in 2020.