The more things change, the more they stay the same. That could be construed as the theme of the customer experience trends we see coming in 2020.
Or maybe we were just ahead of our time in 2019?
In a nutshell, we’re still looking at consumer-driven engagements and experiences that add value to the consumer.
Technology is ever present, including the growing importance of artificial intelligence in managing those experiences, so that’s no change.
The real change could be seen in the merging of the humanization of brands and customer experience trends with technology. But more on that later. Let’s get to the list.
1. Benchmark & Score Customer Experiences
When planning customer experiences, most strategists look to measure – and possibly improve -the touchpoints a customer has with the business, such as the website, emails, product use, post-purchase customer service, and so on.
However, it’s no longer enough to understand and improve those customer experiences with your product, service or brand.
First off, customers’ reactions to those touch points must be measured against how they affect the likelihood he or she will continue to buy from you or advocate for your business, in addition to a customer satisfaction rating.
In many cases, a customer will rate a touchpoint – such as their experience with your online customer service representatives – highly; however, that service may have little to no impact on their loyalty to your brand, their willingness to spend a greater share of their wallet with you or their propensity to refer your business.
Instead of simply measuring customer satisfaction with each brand-consumer touchpoint, leading businesses will be measuring – and benchmarking – the effect each touch point has on customer lifetime value, loyalty, and advocacy.
With our clients, we’ll be establishing benchmarks for each touchpoint, measuring where customer satisfaction scores line up (or don’t line up) with the customer’s likelihood to spend more and refer more.
In other words, if a customer loves the online customer support provided but indicates it has no effect on whether or not they’ll forgive a mistake or continue to do business with the brand when a competitor offers a lower price, we’ll recommend the client is spending too much time and money on that function.
Establishing benchmarks for where customer satisfaction positively or negatively impacts customer loyalty and advocacy provides us the opportunity to quantify the success of the efforts extended to improve those touchpoints, keeping the customer lifecycle heathy and profitable.
2. Value-Added Experiences
Measuring and improving the physical touch points customers have with your brand will never NOT be a trend or important to your business.
What is growing in importance is the creation and management of value-added experiences, or experiences beyond the common business transaction.
86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
– Price Waterhouse Cooper Study
84% of customers feel that experiences are as important as the actual products and services.
– SalesForce, State of the Connected Customer – 3rd Edition.
Value-added experiences are engagements – sponsored or facilitated by your business – that improve the lives of your customers.
For example, a financial institution may wish to provide tools for grandparents to access discounted family getaways that help build stronger multi-generational relationships.
Wealth management companies may consider providing value-added education that advises clients how to smartly invest in art, or how to give back to their communities.
In each case, these brands would be offering experiences relevant to their customers, where the value received goes beyond that of the product or service delivered.
The value earned and lessons learned from these type of customer experience trends is improving the way they live, work, and play.
3. Relationships Over Product
Expanding on trend #2 above, the shift being made here is a focus on customer experiences that develop relationships, not just the customer experiences around the delivery and use of products.
The adage “people buy from people, not businesses” has always been true. But never more so than in 2020.
64% of consumers want brands to ‘connect with them’ in a more meaningful way.
– SproutSocial Research, 2019
Meaningful relationships between brands and people evolve in a similar manner to that between people and people.
There must be a mutual benefit and a mutual respect between the parties; each party should seek to provide more value than they are receiving.
A brand that manufactures the best product or delivers the best service, but does nothing beyond that to add value to the consumers’ lives, will find their market share challenged by businesses that do invest in that relationship building despite having a potentially less optimal product or service.
71% of customers recommend a product or service because the brand provided a value-added experience.
– Convince & Convert Consulting, 2018 Word of Mouth Report
Consider a telecommunication company that provides tools or courses to its consumers that help them better educate kids on the perils of cell phone or social media addiction, in order to support their mental health.
Imagine a car rental company that provides an app to its business customers that sends real-time offers or special access to nearby shows, dinners, or sporting events as the driver travels through new cities. (See 20 examples of great CX here).
In each case, these brands would be building a relationship with their consumer by giving him or her more than they receive back. They improve the manner in which they live, work, and play; they are not simply providing a product or service.
In the end, the value the consumer earns from this relationship will see her remain loyal longer, forgive more service issues, and be more likely to advocate.
4. On-Demand, As Needed Delivery
Delivering value-added experiences or building brand-consumers relationships can’t be seen as extra work for the consumer.
Consumers willingly allow access to mobile phones, apps, and online tools in exchange for enhanced, personal experiences.
Brands need to hold up their end of that bargain if they wish to benefit from the shift we’re seeing in customer experience trends.
Loyalty programs, for example, that require the user to earn points only to have to log in to a website marketplace to search for products to purchase, is a great example of what consumers are no longer interested in.
Chances are you know the consumer’s profile when making a purchase, so you know what they’re spending, when they’re spending, and what their lifetime value is (or you should). Why do you need them to prove it by linking that value-add to specific or timed activity?
Why are you not providing value-added services to clients based on their lifetime value?
Or potential for lifetime value?
Or their value as brand ambassador?
Who among us is not tired of card-carrying point systems that provide restricted air travel or products we don’t really need?
We know enough about our consumers today to be able to develop profiles of their interests and desires, such as what type of vacations they take or what sports they like to watch.
Why make them search for loyalty rewards?
Push rewards to them via mobile devices, emails, or (yikes!) a phone call from a customer service rep at the point your CRM or artificial intelligence software tells you it may be valuable to them.
If you don’t know when it would be valuable or what they value beyond your product, again, you should.
Why Customer Experience Trends Are So Important
Businesses that drive value-added experiences see almost 50% more retention and repeat purchases those that don’t.
– Forrester and Adobe, The Business Impact of Investing in Experience
Building an owned community where you can develop those relationships through value-added engagements – and learn more about your customers, prospects, employees, and influencers should be your next step here.
As I stated at the start this article, these customer experience trends and strategies that we’re focusing on in 2020 are similar to our client plans for 2019.
However, 2020 will see us merging technology and human touch in a much greater way to enable each of these.
This could mean allowing the consumer to self-direct what engagements they want beyond the standard business transaction and utilizing artificial intelligence to help drive that engagement or value-added service to their fingertips at the point they need it most.
The merging of humanization and technology to build stronger customer relationships that build stronger businesses.