As recent as 10 years ago, a Google search on the words "customer experience" would have produced few returns relevant for marketing professionals. Now, boundaries between industries and the physical and virtual worlds are rapidly disappearing, and consumers are demanding more from the businesses they support.
New technologies have given marketers greater opportunities to engage their customers. When all of the changes that have transpired in recent years are analyzed as a group, it becomes obvious that companies must raise the bar if they want to remain competitive — or even survive.
Customer-experience management is a crucial area that can help businesses achieve their goals. Although many of the current trends are expansions or modifications to trends that initially appeared previous years ago, they have become increasingly important when placed into the context of today's business environment.
The following list highlights the current trends with which every marketing professional should be familiar:
- Customers continue to raise their expectations of what constitutes a good experience. Significantly, these expectations cross industry lines. As an example, consider the experience provided by Amazon to its customers. These customers are going to demand the same quality of experience whether they are booking a vacation, obtaining insurance quotes, or using an in-store kiosk.
- Customers will increasingly demand a personalized experience that is relevant to their needs, wants and habits. Data can be mined and analyzed to uncover new ways to personalize the customer's experience in ways that competitors will be hard-pressed to imitate.
- As companies become more customer-centric, customer-experience design will become increasingly important. Companies that Identify customer pain points and gaps in the customer experience while providing solutions will receive more focus. Businesses will become more aware of the rolethat customer emotions play in brand loyalty, creatingan outstanding experience and feeling that their demands have been met. Beta testing and customer feedback will be used more before launching a new design or scaling up.
- Seamless integration will increase in importance. It has already been established that customers expect seamless integration across channels and devices. However, as the line between the digital and physical worlds continues to blur, the need to integrate both worlds into a seamless experience will become increasingly important. Understanding customers' in-store behavior will become just as critical as tracking their online behavior. Furthermore, the expansion of technologies, such as wearable tech and connected devices, will give customers more ways to connect while placing additional demands on businesses to support an engaging customer experience.
- Competition to hire customer-experience talent will increase. Customer-experience professionals who have the training and background to contribute to a company's success are in short supply, and will likely remain so for years to come. Your competition is already investing in launching, upgrading and refining their customer experience. Spending on customer-experience management is expected to top the $8 billion mark by 2019. Finding and retaining knowledgeable customer-experience professionals will become increasingly important as the supply of talent is not expected to be sufficient to meet the demand.
- Employee experience will continue to be recognized as an important link in the customer experience. Your employees are the ones who are responsible for actually delivering on your promises. Engaged employees can help engage customers. In fact, studies show that businesses with highly engaged employees experience 147 percent higher earnings per share than their competitors. Future winners in the customer-engagement arena will extend the principles of engagement to their employees and their entire culture.