The 5 Most Important Customer Experience Trends
- Customer Experience Trends reveal insights, best practices and actions that show how to best deliver superior and differentiated customer experiences.
- Trends help companies understand what works and what doesn't. They show how to apply customer experience management (CXM) to differentiate themselves from competitors and gain competitive advantage.
- There are 5 customer experience trends that stand above all others. They show the direction of CXM, and if harnessed can bolster your planning, reduce risk, accelerate time to value and improve results.
Trends represent opportunities to accelerate progress and reduce risk at the same time.
They show how companies can improve planning, avoid pitfalls and adopt the lessons learned from those who went before them. Here are 5 influential trends to stay ahead of the curve, and ahead of competitors.
Companies will increasingly compete based on Customer Experience (CX)
Savvy business leaders recognize buyer decision making criteria have changed and their company must change in tandem.
Competitive advantages used to be gained from operational excellence, with capabilities such as lean manufacturing or efficient supply chains. But these competencies are now table stakes.
Competitive differentiation used to be achieved through brand development. But while the brand is most certainly not worthless, it is worth less in an era where customers, who often distrust or otherwise remain highly skeptical of what companies say about themselves, put much more weight into what other customers say about them. Companies no longer get to define their brand; customers do.
Competitive advantages used to be things like products, price, staff, service and location. But in the minds of customers these are all easily substitutable and highly commoditized.
Customers top decision-making criteria have evolved to wanting innovative products and services, suppliers that know how to engage and build relationships with them, and brands that know how to deliver consistent, rewarding and memorable customer experiences.
Connecting with customers at an emotional level, by delivering differentiated CXs that make each customer feel satisfied, delighted, appreciated, valued, engaged or rewarded, is one of only four sustainable competitive advantages and an advantage that it is not easily or quickly displaced by competitors, technology or disruption.
Increased CLV and decreased customer churn are the top drivers of CX ROI
That means for every dollar invested into a CX program, the company earned $3.56 in additional revenue.
That amount of ROI isn't just from incremental revenue. Improved CXs also lower the cost to serve. A research advisory published at Harvard Business Review found effective customer experience can lower the cost of serving customers by up to 33%.
And to drive the financial impact home, a white paper produced by Forrester, titled The Business Impact of Investing in Experience, reported that companies who delivered superior CXs grew revenue 1.7 times faster and increased customer lifetime value 2.3 times more than other companies in the past year.
The employee experience has become a prerequisite
CX Leaders recognize the employee experience is a precursor to the CX.
The employee experience is the employee's perception of their employer based on the things that most motivate them. For example, staff are increasingly looking for companies whose purpose aligns with their own. They want to feel valued and be rewarded. They also want engagement, collaboration and work–life balance.
The upside for the employer is that a satisfied employee is more productive and has a direct and significant impact on the customer experience. Happy employees make happy customers.
A study by Indeed found that three-quarters of executives reported employee expectations are on the rise and 19% of companies have made it a strategic priority.
Interestingly, the employee experience and the CX are symbiotic. Not only does the employee experience directly drive improved CXs, but McKinsey reports that companies with active CX programs see employee engagement increase by 20% on average.
Take care of your staff and they will take care of your customers.
CRM software, advanced analytics and AI are the 3 most empowering CX technologies
CRM software has become the underlying platform and is increasingly replacing patchworks of point solutions. It provides CX program data management, process automation and information reporting.
The centralized data management aids increased customer expectations for things like mass personalization at scale and omnichannel engagement. In fact, a key capability in achieving successful CXs is maintaining communication fidelity over multiple channels. Staff must be able to follow customer conversations across channels without requiring customers to repeat themselves.
Omnichannel is now a minimal expectation of customers and highly correlates to the CX. But that doesn't make it easy. According to Gartner, "50% of large organizations have failed to unify engagement channels, resulting in a disjointed and siloed customer experience that lacks context."
Customer experience analytics have gained significant adoption in large part as they now measure progress in real-time, deliver key insights to user dashboards and apply data to deliver predictive analytics.
A study by Forbes Insights and SAS reported that 90% of executives who used advanced analytics reported that they "improved their ability to deliver superior customer experiences."
Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to deliver relevant and personalized customer insights across channels and at nearly every point of interaction. AI harvests large volumes of data, synthesizes data findings into prescriptive guidance and automatically delivers next best experiences, guided communications and other highly specific recommendations that improve CXs.
Privacy & Trust
Delivering superior CXs requires data and getting customer data requires trust and transparency. Demonstrating trust and transparency are now both urgent and non-negotiable.
Customers trust authentic communication that aligns the company's principles with their own. They expect transparency with advertising, sales engagement, customer support and most of all, how your company handles their data.
Customers want personalized experiences, but they want to know their personal data is safe and properly used even more.
When companies clearly articulate how data is collected, what it is used for and how it is protected, customers are far more willing to share their information.
CX leaders share their privacy policies and data practices. They ask for consent to use customer data and explain how it will be used. They use that data judiciously. And if there is a data breach, they disclose it promptly and fully.