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10 customer experience trends to watch

By Luke Williams

Customer experience (CX) has become a key differentiator for today’s top brands with everyone rushing to advance their programs. However, it isn’t always easy to know where to spend time and effort for maximum results.

To be ahead of the game, it is important for organisations to be aware of all the factors that influence change so that they can anticipate their customer’s needs. Here are 10 CX trends that organisations need to watch out for in 2017.

Customer trends

1. As customer expectations accelerate, companies will struggle to keep up. Owing to advances in customer experience awareness, customers will max-out their expectations on how a company should deliver experiences, betraying the lack of uniform customer experience management and innovation in the market. Companies must be always on and correct: omnichannel, customised, rapid, easy, “know me” but yet private, everyday customer expectations are immense.

2. Service failures will increasingly require abundant recovery. Expectations will rise around a firm’s ability to detect dissatisfaction and then recover customer loyalty with speed and overwhelming love. Customers are now fully sensing the power of word of mouth – and the potential to grow consensus at a magnitude – and getting companies to react to their issues. Companies will need to pre-empt with passion, empathy and excel through service delivery.

3. CX visionaries innovate inimitably. Amazon Go, if successful, could establish a benchmark that’s unachievable for most. However, customers will sense that every other retailer could do more to create high-quality, effortless experiences simply by prioritising their importance.

Company trends

4. Beginning of the end for data-gazing. This year, there will be more activity around the data collected and turning that data into action. Dashboards will be reduced to only the most critical components. A growing cohort of firms will become bored with tracking KPI and focus on business outcomes, turning KPIs and research into business plans and reaction playbooks.

5. The eternal question unanswered: Who owns the customer? Firms will continue their struggle in defining the difference between a CCO (Chief Commercial Officer), a CXO (Chief Experience Officer) and a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), where they overlap and where gaps exist.

6. Companies continue CX efficiency push. Firms will spend more money on technology to provide their ongoing research, dashboards, analytics and integrations. Costs on human consulting will focus more on subject matter expertise. The positive savings will be spent on transformation activities or captured as cost-savings.

Analytics trends

7. Emotion, financial ROI join NPS as program KPIs. A growing need to “round out” the view of the customer will be enabled by improvements in emotion detection and survey-based ROI model sciences.

8. Data strategy becomes paramount, remains elusive. Data strategy can be as important as the data you collect. The prediction, however, is that companies will fail doing it themselves and will be forced to hire talent or consulting architects to make retroactive upgrades.

9. Python grows as the “It” language. SAS programmers are safe for the moment, but many will bypass R and go straight to Python. Large scale licenses for older stats packages will decline as routine activities (regression-based driver analyses, segmentation) are pushed to faster, out-of-the-box solutions and as part of data dashboards.

10. A.I. continues its upswing. The continued development of AI solutions will begin to allow increasing identification and analysis for photos, videos, voice analytics, text analytics and anomaly detection. Applications such as service bots will continue to rise. Time-to-value on related research tool decreases and real-time analytics will start to become more available for those with budgets to invest. The space will be ripe for the low-cost disruptor. Early beneficiaries will be CPG, retail, hospitality, travel, leisure and academic researchers.

All of the above trends are happening. However, a lot of organisations are playing perpetual catch-up.

The CX team must move quickly to be effective, but chances are they are still focusing on 2016 resolutions: optimising the website, activating social listening, connecting the dots between customer sentiment and customer behaviour.

These teams are already behind and need to get moving. Action, change and momentum are key to successful CX programs.

Luke Williams is head of CX at Qualtrics.

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