What is the future of customer experience?

what is the future of customer experience- Think Wow

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With so many business leaders turning to customer experience to elevate their brand’s profile, grow their customer base and increase revenue, it’s not surprising that CX is a hot topic right now. The questions on everybody’s lips though, are what does the future hold for customer experience management? And how can their business get ahead when it comes to their CX?

With advances in AI and CRM solutions, we’ll see a shift towards more companies relying on technology to deliver an improved CX. But tech alone doesn’t hold the answer – the key to the future of Customer experience is a hybrid approach. The businesses who find the perfect blend between human service and technology will race ahead of the pack when it comes to CX.

HubSpot released their ‘Human touch’ report at the end of 2021, revealing that four out of five CX professionals invested in new digital technology to improve their customer experience last year. New software for frontline customer service teams and enhanced CRM automations were among the top spends, with new website solutions also among the top investments.

A superior customer experience won’t be achieved with technology alone, however.

This is something that the top performing businesses have already realised, with a whopping 72% of CX professionals stating they have taken steps to invest in the human element of their customer experience too.

Along with finding the right blend between human and digital solutions, the future of customer experience could actually look a little like going back in time, back to the basics.

Over the past five years, as technology has improved, and more businesses have adopted complex tech solutions to answer all their customer woes, we’ve actually seen that in some case it’s made things worse.

Running before you can walk is a common CX mistake that bigger corporations make, trying to aim for ‘wow moments’, when actually they aren’t quite delivering the basics right yet.

Meeting customer expectations with your service delivery is a basic foundation that every single business should achieve before they look at more complicated solutions.

Providing a positive customer experience relies on delivering a customer journey that achieves customer satisfaction, so start with slowing down.

Listen to customer sentiment, review what your customers expect, and make incremental improvements based on the feedback they give you.

Are customer experiences changing?

In short, yes they are. But to answer this question fully, we’ll need to go into a little more detail.

The rise of artificial intelligence to identify customer sentiment, reduce friction and deliver elements of the customer journey has sped up over the last few years.

Chatbots are vastly improved, call analytics are impressive and there’s a genuine business case for automating as much as you can for back office processes to free up front office customer service agents.

Consumer trust in AI is improving too, with plenty opting to engage with a chatbot over picking up the phone.

With consumer habits changing, more advanced technology available and in some cases the money being made available to CX professionals increasing, we will see more business leaders advocating for that spend to focus on digital channels.

Managing customer experience on digital channels

So what should that look like in order to meet customer expectations, and find the right balance between human and technology to deliver increased business performance?

Enable easy personalisation by retaining customer choice

With so many options available now through intelligent omni-channel customer experience management, it’s important to recognise the opportunity to allow your customer to choose how they want to interact with you.

Advanced personalisation of the customer experience can be costly, and require clever programming and machine learning but you don’t need to spend a fortune to deliver a similar feeling of satisfaction in your customer base.

Just enable them to choose to use their preferred contact channel, and make that experience seamless for them.

By being able to pick a channel that’s convenient to them, get the answers they need from that channel and swap seamlessly to another channel if they need to, you customer will feel like they’ve had a more personalised experience and look forward to interacting with your business.

Staff appropriately to meet customer demand

Don’t see chatbot as a complete replacement for your human workforce. It can be fantastic at answering basic enquiries and pointing customers towards self service tools, but if it fails to help your customer reach their goal, then you’ll want to have enough employees on hand to answer queries swiftly.

There’s nothing more frustrating that only being able to find the chatbot, and getting stuck in a loop where you don’t find answers, so offer an easy option to switch to live chat, and ensure the chat wait times are kept to a minimum.

Keep an eye on your busiest periods and make sure you have the right staffing level to keep up with demand at all times – the key here is to staff when your customers want to contact you, not just to stick to Monday-Friday 9-5 and hope that pays off.

Design your opening hours to meet customer needs for improved business outcomes.

Remember that your digital presence is an extension of your brand

With so many off the shelf tools available to help businesses to step up digitally, it can be tempting to rely on ready made scripts and pre-sets for things like call routing and data analysis.

The problem with that, is that’s really when you start to feel more like a robotic solution, the same as any competitor.

The key to consumer trust is a recognisable and consistent brand. Make sure your brand values, brand identity and tone of voice all flow through any digital solutions you have with compelling content and scripts that reflect your brand personality.

You won’t need to have as many employees available through the entire customer experience if you’re able to bring your brand to life with your digital experience.

Journey map to ensure you meet customer needs and remove any element of chance

Where things can go wrong, they often will. The issue with advancing technologies, automation and the increasing popularity of new solutions is that they also tend to add layers of complexity to your customer journey.

Most of the layers are designed to either ease customer pain, or business pain, but without careful planning you might end up actually achieving the opposite.

Start by talking to your customers to ensure you genuinely understand their needs, and that any changes to technology or organisational structure that might arise as a result of those changes, actually meets their needs.

Gather as much feedback as possible, and where you can, recruit customers into a co-creation board ready to help design changes to your digital experience.

With your customer’s help, map their experience. Go into detail and identify which technologies will run quietly in the background at each stage of the journey and which might be more obvious to your customer base.

Identify any potential frustrations, and gaps in ownership, or anything that feels out of place for your brand and highlight them as pain points.

Pay special attention to the sections of the experience your customer feels they’d want to have access to a human member of staff, vs taking advantage of self-service and make sure you balance the human touch with any automation in a way that meets customer needs.

Once you’ve done this you can work through and address each pain point in priority order to ensure you improve customer experiences.

Innovation for better customer experiences

The trick with a great customer experience that genuinely meets your customer needs is to recognise the need for constant evolution.

Customer needs change, available technology changes and where most companies fail is considering that their customer experience is ‘finished’ when they come to the end of a CX project.

What your company needs to do to meet the future of customer experience will change along with what’s possible, and what your customer’s see as value based on their experiences with you and with other brands.

Ensure your feedback strategy or voice of the customer programme is collecting the right insights to understand your consumers needs, and continue that research at all times.

Make sure you have a regular and consistent process for reviewing essential feedback, and that you can use the data collected to drive meaningful changes to your operations.

How will the future of customer experience impact business?

The future of customer experience and the changing landscape within the industry will impact marketing, sales, branding, customer services and just about any department in your organisation.

Every business leader in your company needs to understand the customer experience and lead on it in their business area for your CX to be successful.

If you can get your entire organisation on the same page when it comes to the technologies and services you offer to meet customer needs, then you’ll find that much like the 86% of businesses actively working on their CX who report an increase in revenue, you’re satisfied customer base will increase too, along with your average spend per customer.

The increased shift towards digitising the customer experience could have huge benefits for businesses both large and small – providing they don’t lose their focus on why they have made the changes, and what their customers want to see.

Conclusion

In conclusion it’s clear that when implemented correctly, with an eye on customer expectations and needs, a hybrid approach to customer experience really can improve business outcomes.

The future of your company, the size of your market share and your ability to whether any future recessions or downturn in consumer spending could well depend on how you approach your customer strategy over the next twelve months.

With everything to play for, why not get started today?

Still have questions, or maybe you aren’t sure where to start? Get in touch today for a free consultation.

Rebecca Brown
Rebecca Brown
Rebecca’s intense passion for customer excellence began over a decade ago when she oversaw the opening of several high-end retail art galleries, balancing the need for an exceptional experience with a drive for sales.

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