The customer experience landscape is always in motion, but that’s no excuse to sit back and let your organization’s CX fall as it may. That’s why we’re highlighting the five customer experience trends to plan around for 2020 — so you can stay ahead of the curve and deliver a winning CX that keeps your customers coming back.
Read on to learn about rising technology, shifting expectations, and doubling down on the human side of business, for customers and employees alike.
1. Speak Human
From apps and signage to Interactive Voice Response, customers want to hear your messages in a human tone. Legalese, acronyms, and robotic speech make brands feel outdated, unemotional, or even inconsiderate. In 2020 more brands will look to rewire every communication to be conversational and speak earnestly to their customers, human to human.
There’s no more denying the need to build a strong relationship between your brand and your consumers (not just blanket messages or occasional promotions), and the tone of your communications can make or break customers’ feelings about your brand.
2. Personalize the Relationship
Personalizing customer experience isn’t a new trend, but it’s one that’s taking hold even stronger in 2020. CX professionals are accepting the fact that customers aren’t surprised or wary if you know them, they’re actually discouraged if you don’t. Customers know that a large portion of their life is in the digital realm and, in particular, that each interaction they have with your brand is an opportunity for you to understand their perspective and identity.
Again, customers want to be treated like people. Show you understand their problems, ask to learn more, use the information you have to customize interactions… If you offer customers services and support that uses data to signal your understanding of them (within reason), the relationship will grow.
3. Establish Transparency and Bilateral Trust
Any challenging interaction between a customer and a company is typically due to an unmet expectation. It doesn’t pay off to promote an idea that you can’t back up or obscure a relevant detail that customers might uncover in the wrong moment. These circumstances only cause frustration for both customers and employees. So get real about your organization’s value offering, then show customers what you’re about.
Companies that decide to share all details and options with their customers upfront will avoid escalations and dissatisfaction. More so, brands that engage with customers in a transparent manner gain customer trust and loyalty. People are much more willing to throw their support behind an experience that delivers as promised.
Taking it one step further, in 2020 more companies will return the show of trust to their customers by loosening certain policies. The cost of policing these policies is not worth the few times they will be abused (e.g. someone returns shoes they wore for three months on a free return policy), and brands that follow this trend will fortify a two-way street of confidence and satisfaction.
4. Ensure a Winning Digital Experience — That Links to Your People
Digital interactions are only becoming smarter across the board and customers expect to be engaged online, with ease. They want to feel progress and satisfaction as they interact with digital offerings — just as how ordering a Lyft provides status updates, information about the driver, and tips for safety, while the experience as a whole naturally flows within the app. Many companies will continue to invest in user-experience design to ensure customers feel connected to the screen.
More organizations will also incorporate artificial intelligence and bots in 2020, but here’s the kicker: these tools will need to be utilized in combination with human outreach, designing your touchpoints to play off the strengths each can offer. In some cases, this may mean that AI is used for quick intake to better prepare an agent on the other side. Automated responses can also be used to handle rote tasks so that agents can focus on more complex or escalated conversations with customers.
Just remember that computers are generally best suited for computing things: using data and defined processes to support routine (even if complex) activities quickly and efficiently. For now, chatbots and the like aren’t great at handling customer issues that break with routine, require broader context to understand, or demand an emotional response. That’s why people remain a key ingredient in CX delivery.
5. Engage and Empower Your Employees
Employee experience is an essential aspect of creating a winning CX and more organizations are going to look to strengthen their EX and employee engagement in 2020. You can have the best intentions for customer experience, but if the individuals tasked with delivering those experiences are underprepared or facing high absenteeism and attrition, your customers won’t be getting the best service.
One particular component of employee experience that is being recognized for its value is what empowering your employees can bring (rather than restricting or micromanaging). Over the last few years, we’ve seen how front-line employees are becoming more empowered to make on-the-spot decisions to help customers who, in recent history, needed to escalate for a resolution.
In 2020 we’ll see organizations come to realize the financial benefits of letting the reigns out for employees in this way. From expediting service to refunds and credits, you should give each employee more authority to make things right. This will save the organization costs by reducing the interaction counts and durations and delivering a positive customer experience more immediately. Customer escalations will even start to fade away as employee empowerment rises up.
Takeaways — Customer Experience in 2020
Each of these five trends is essential to keep in mind as you continue to develop your CX, EX, and organization as a whole. It’s also notable that the throughline here, going into 2020, is to keep a human touch at the center of your customer experience. The research, data, and planning are all necessary for success, but at the end of the day, playing to feelings, relationships, transparency, and empowerment will be what sets your brand apart.
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