Featured Image for the blog: Five CX Trends that are Changing the Game

How often do you go back to a restaurant whose wait staff is lazy? What about if you had to wait two hours for your food? How likely are you to order clothes from a website if they don’t offer up free returns? Or if it takes several weeks for your new jeans to show up on your doorstep?

When customers have a poor experience with a company, they take their business elsewhere. They become flight risks – ready to abandon your brand and take to the internet to leave a scathing review.

But, what happens on the flipside? What’s the power of a good customer service experience? Temkin Group reports that after having a positive experience with a company, 77% of customers recommend the business to a friend.

On the battlefield of corporate competition, customer experience determines whether brands survive. Deloitte reports that 62% of organizations believe the customer experience they deliver in their contact center is their competitive edge. Customers have more power than ever to demand high-quality service. Why would they choose a company that’s slow to help or inefficient when plenty of brands will value their experience more?

Gartner found consumers today decide if they’ll buy again from a company based on their experience before anything else. Some 64% of people find customer experience more important than price when making a purchase. Ok ok, so delivering a good customer experience is super important. But, how do you keep up with all the changing tech and customer expectations?

Let’s look at some of this year’s trends in CX so you can be ahead of the game and enter the battle in perfect formation.

The Latest CX Trends to Make Your Own

1. No single department owns customer experience

Carrying out a customer experience strategy isn’t something to check off on a to-do list. It’s not something you can assign to a single team of people and think you’re done. Customer experience involves every department and every employee. Your VP of Ops doesn’t win the CX battle by only hiring a director of customer service and a few managers to run the show. Sure, the right talent (and your leadership!) is crucial to a good CX. But customer experience goes beyond the bounds of your contact center.

Your entire company should rally around helping your customers. If not, you’ll face blips in your customer journey that can ruin their experience. From hiring to marketing, supply chain, logistics, product design — the responsibility of customer experience lies with every department. Every person in your organization should own how their work impacts customers. Every person should help solve customer issues and provide the best experience possible. And everyone should join forces and work together to make it all possible.

Adopt this trend:

This is a trend that’s hard to put into place alone. That’s the point. Your contact center can’t carry the customer experience. If that’s a burden you’re facing as a manager, consider chatting with other department heads and supervisors, and with your boss. Together, start implementing an interdepartmental CX philosophy. Document your customer-centric vision for your team and your organization. Then, establish what success looks like. What does it mean for your team to deliver the best customer experience? Once defined, share it with your fellow managers and exec team.

2. More Automation

Customers expect support anywhere, at any time, and from any channel.   To keep up with demand, companies are doubling down on automation. Automating some of your tasks and simple interactions helps agents increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve the customer experience. From bots to smart speakers, and automatic orders —  automation and intelligent tools are only on the rise.

Adopt this trend:

Consider adding basic automation into your processes of outreach and care for customers. You can use chatbots for after-hours support or for sending your customers self-help articles. Or, use data to automate an initial outreach to a  customer. Then, redirect them to a live agent when the interaction progresses. Let Bots help customers with simple tasks, like finding a case number, and finding their personal information. Update your software so you can track and inform more pieces of your customer journey.

3. Using predictive analytics to know your customers

Data helps companies create a more personalized experience for customers and predict their future actions. Most contact center platforms currently have analytics and reporting tools. But McKinsey found that only 37% of organizations feel they use advanced analytics to create value for their customers. Unlike earlier data and analytics solutions, advanced analytics help contact centers generate actionable insights about what will happen next in a customer journey. With hard facts rather than intuition informing your decision-making, you reduce costs, increase revenue, and improve customer satisfaction scores.

Adopt this trend:

Invest in custom reporting and analytics tools in your contact center if your current insights are lacking. And if you have all the tools you need, make sure you’re working with your partner vendors to use them to their fullest capabilities. Real-time reports and analytics help you manage your metrics, agent performance and give you insight into customer satisfaction. Create a predictive analytics model manually using your existing data, and map out your full customer journey.

By analyzing your data and pairing your insights with automation, you can set up important triggers to identify customer trends. Look at things like how many times a customer has abandoned a call to see who has a high probability of ending their relationship with you. Or, see how many times another customer has asked to speak to a manager or asked to cancel services, and flag them as high priority for outreach. Using data to inform your customer efforts and the level of service each customer needs to leave their next interaction happy and loyal.

4. More personalization in everything

A report by Internet Retailing found 69% of consumers want a personalized customer experience. But, less than 50% of brands are actually delivering on the personalization front. Everyone wants brands to remember their name. They want their preferences and past interactions with the company recorded. There are companies that send you boxes of clothes specific to your taste and measurements. There are vitamin subscriptions that send vitamins specific to what your body needs – with your name on the tiny, designed packages they come in. Customers today love to feel known and remembered. And, it seems to pay off. Forbes has reported that personalization leads to more revenue, fewer returns, and greater customer loyalty.

But, personalization is tricky to handle. Though more customers today are hungry for a uniquely personal experience with a company, they are just as wary to give up personal data. Digital personalization takes care and revamped security measures to do well.

Adopt this trend:

It’s incredibly important to work with other departments in your company to know your customers. Break down divisions and silos between teams. Work with your marketing team to test customer reactions, surveys, and trends so you can see what customers are looking for from your service. Work with your sales team to learn what prospects ask for in the buying process and how you can deliver on the promises that pushed them to pick you.

Send out customer satisfaction surveys and follow up with customers who reach out to you. Look at analytics and reporting to gather information on your customers and dissect trends so you know how often, and on what channels, your customers reach out. And, encourage your agents to spend time during interactions building conversational customer relationships. Don’t hold metrics and expectations over your employees that limit opportunities for them to learn about your customers. You’ll notice a difference in your agents’ and your customers’ satisfaction.

5. Engage employees for more engaged customers

Your customers’ experience is a direct result of your employees’ experience. If your employees are disengaged, frustrated with processes, and grumpy, it’s impossible for them to deliver a good experience to your customers. On the flip side, if you have a team of fully engaged, competent agents, your customers will be happier with your brand. In fact, 68% of customers said that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences, and 62% said that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key.

Think of your own experiences interacting with a company you’ve hired for a product or service. Maybe every time you respond to an email from a company, a different customer service rep responds to the ticket. What about when the agent on the other end of the line puts you on hold for 15 minutes because they aren’t efficiently trained to answer your questions? These experiences leave a bad taste. But consider the ease of a customer experience with an agent who is cheerful, knowledgeable, and a true advocate for you. That’s an experience you’ll remember. Research shows that companies who excel at customer experience have 1.5 times more engaged employees than companies with a record of poor customer experience. Believe me, the benefits are worth it for you and for your customers!

Adopt this trend:

To begin engaging your employees on behalf of your customers’ experience, start with a strong hiring process and evaluate the strength of your training and on-boarding. Your customer experience will suffer if your employees lack training and resources. Give them feedback and coaching consistently, so they know how to excel in their work from day-to-day. Create plans for growth and encourage employees to set professional goals to focus on each month. Get creative with team building exercises and opportunities for your employees to build new skills and learn from their own mistakes.

There are plenty of tools and ideas out there to help you get more engaged employees and build a better customer experience.

Check out some of our recent posts, like this one on creating a digital customer journey, to see how to exceed your customer’s expectations in an ever-changing industry.