Now that 2018 is coming to a close, it’s time to look forward and assess some of the trends that are likely to have an impact on the customer experience world. Below are our top four trends that will make an impact on the customer experience landscape in 2019.
Transforming the shopping experience
We have already seen that customer experience is quickly overtaking price and product as the key differentiator. Previously customers used the product and or the price as a factor to differentiate what purchases they would like to make. However, with the increasing importance of customer experience, brands now need to do more than just supply a superior product or an impressive price, shopping needs to become more of an experience rather than just going to buy something.
Take online shopping for example. Even if your brand offers a great deal online that beats all the competition, but the task of attaining this deal requires your customers to jump through multiple hoops, then the purchasing experience is ruined and the customer may look elsewhere. Customers still want a good deal of course and are willing to do some work, but they also want great experience. If your brand can supply a system that offers a great product, competitive price and most of all a fantastic purchasing experience that makes the customer want to come back again, then your brand is doing the right thing.
The continual improvement and advancement of Artificial Intelligence will play a huge role in Customer Experience in the coming year. Modern Artificial Intelligence will help provide personalised solutions in a more efficient way, which can come in the form of predictive analytics. This involves identifying patterns in an existing data set and using these patterns to predict the most likely outcomes going forward. As AI is improving, larger amounts of data can be read and analysed than ever before. More data is available which translates into more detailed insight into the customer.
For years we have witnessed the algorithm that understands what we have bought and suggests another purchase that we may like. However, now technology has progressed, instead of suggesting an alternative product based on previous purchases, predictive analytics will be able to predict what future purchases will be needed and in due course, the technology in place will purchase the product for you.
Customers can experience artificial intelligence through a chatbot. Chatbots, such as Amazon’s Alexa, can conduct conversions with humans and provide information or in some cases complete an action. Chatbots can be used by organisations and customers to improve the customer experience. Organisations can use chatbots to quickly and efficiently gather feedback from the customers, without having to rely on a human. In addition, customers can use chatbots to gather information that they need in a quick and convenient way. For example, a customer can ask a chatbot if a certain product is in stock at a shop. This is twofold as the customer is getting exactly what they want, and the organisation can collect data on their purchasing behaviour and use this to target them in the future.
Natural Language Processing allows the chatbot to understand and process human languages. This brings the computers closer to a human level of language. Computers don’t yet have the same intuitive understanding of natural language that humans do – they are unable to read between the lines. An improving artificial intelligence will look to gain more insight into qualitative analysis by understanding the meaning behind the customers feedback.
Another trend that we predict will be on the rise is omni-channel customer experience. Omni-channel refers to the different ways that customers and brands can interact with each other. These include through advertisement, social media, surveying, emailing, in-store experiences and others.
Convenience for the customer is key to a great customer experience. This can be achieved through improved omnichannel customer experience. By creating as many touchpoints as possible, it creates an opportunity for customers to interact with the brand which has multiple benefits. With lots of touchpoints and access points, brands can gather huge amounts of data on their customers, which can be used to improve the experience for the customers. The next step for the brand is to link all the customer interactions, whereby they all work together. The customer can shift between the different channels without losing context and impacting the experience. For example, a holiday website should be able to deliver the same experience, regarding of using a desktop PC or a mobile. The most successful brands will implement a system where the customer’s experience can flow between the different channels and as a result the brand can create more meaningful data.
One final trend that will take 2019 by storm is corporate responsibility. Brands not only need to have their customers’ best interests at heart, they now have the challenge of being more responsible with their product packaging and use of plastic. Consumers are also looking at ways that they can be more responsible, however it can be difficult when the product they really want is wrapped in huge amounts of plastic or the biodegradable option is twice as expensive.
To create a deep and meaningful customer experience, brands must work together with the consumer to create change. This can be in the shape of bring-your-own-mug schemes for coffee outlets or reverse vending machines that accept plastic bottles as a method for reducing the cost of a train ticket. According to Mintel (2018) 49% of UK consumers who recycle food packaging most of the time, say that clearer instructions on which parts of packaging can be recycled would encourage them to recycle packaging more often. Consumers want to help create change, and brands need to reduce their carbon footprint. This year’s Iceland advert is a great example of how a brand has chosen to make a change. ‘Say Hello to Rang-tan’ highlights environmental destruction that takes place and explains how Iceland plan to assist in creating change. Rather than creating a traditional Christmas advertisement, showcasing just the brand, Iceland have decided to use an emotive subject to drive home a very important message. The advert has drawn on people’s emotions which has shown how a brand can use the issue of corporate responsibility to get back in touch with their customer base.
We wait with bated breath to see the impact of these trends on the CX world in 2019. One thing is for sure, the importance of CX will continue to rise, and brands must use it to their advantage or risk falling behind their competitors.