It’s totally December. How did that happen? Here we are again at the end of a year, looking back at the highs, lows and in-betweens. It was a good year for customer experience, in my opinion.
A pinnacle event for us CX geeks was the first ever Customer Experience Professionals Day, CX Day, on October 1st. Customers gained advocates as more companies created roles like the Chief Customer Officer and continued to understand the importance of experience over fluff.
But, as always, change begets change. So what can we expect in 2014? For fun this month, we’ll be exploring the future of customer experience and making some guesses on what’s next. Watch this blog, join our communities and let’s debate whose crystal ball is right!
To kick us off, I’m declaring 14 customer experience predictions for 2014. This is a quick list, and we’ll try to explore some of these in greater depth throughout the month.
Ready? Set. GO!
1. Customer experience will splinter, as marketing has.
While customer experience departments and Chief Customer Officers continue to expand their roles within organizations, they will also splinter off into specialties, like analytics, customer feedback, and customer communications.
Recommended for YouWebcast: The Art of Growth Hacking: Gaining Early Traction by Doing Things that Don't Scale
2. Community management will increase in importance.
Why is this a customer experience prediction? Because right now, community managers are often part of various groups like social media teams or promotions. Communities will drive change in the best organizations, and allow them to plug into what customers are really wanting. Those companies that get this will have a huge advantage.
3. Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. (But it’s not all the same.)
This year, the data caught up to what many of us were discussing in 2012. Customers love mobile! Retailers are starting to catch on with savvy apps and mobile sites, but the experience on a smart phone can (and sometimes should) be different than that on a tablet. As tablets and laptops morph, understanding each unique experience is key.
4. Employees will rule.
Employees of all kinds and at all levels are voicing what they see both inside and outside the company. The best companies provide many ways for employees to not only make suggestions and provide feedback, but also make sure they understand they are heard. Employees will not become quieter in 2014, so companies should get ready for their ideas.
5. Humor will win, except when it’s not funny.
People love to get the joke, but they aren’t looking to laugh at someone’s expense. Customers will appreciate those organizations that can look at the light side. Understanding the sometimes subtle line between irreverent and irrelevent is critical.
6. In-store and online experiences will continue to blend together.
Just as Target started highlighting the “Most Pinned” items from Pinterest, other retailers would be wise to help shoppers blur the lines between their online and offline experiences.
7. Loyalty programs will get easier.
The days of punch cards should die already. Help customers by providing rewards via mobile apps, like Starbucks, or keep the loyalty points on the customer’s behalf.
8. Speaking of cards, programs like Belly and Coin will help our wallets get thinner.
Customers are sick of lugging around 10 credit cards and 26 loyalty cards with the ocassional gift card thrown in. Coin helps us consolidate everything on one card, and Belly helps independent retailers provide sophisticated loyalty programs.
9. Signing with your finger will seem quaint soon enough.
If Apple can provide fingerprint technology for security on iPhones, then surely some savvy payment system startup can do this for us? Pay with your Coin card, sign with your fingerprint, and never worry about a lost credit card again! The ease of transactions will be a total win for some retailers.
10. CEO’s will continue to NOT get it.
I hate predicting this, but I’m afraid it’s true. 2014 will bring a new group of clueless, classless CEO’s who blame customers for product failures and insult the very people they’re looking to attract. The Lululemon and Abercrombie executives certainly gave us some disappointing quotes this year, but others will still say idiotic things. Get your popcorn ready. There will still be some shows in 2014.
11. The multi-screen experience will bring entertainment to the customer experience in new ways.
I know many of us use our tablet as a second screen while watching the Oscars, but just wait as creative marketers and product developers begin to tap into the potential of this. Commercials will begin to seek immediate, real-time feedback in new and exciting ways.
12. Business dashboards will slowly add customer metrics.
More and more leaders are understanding the connection between customer metrics like Net Promotor Score and Customer Satisfaction Rates and actual business results. While many business dashboards have traditionally ignored this data in favor of “year over year profit” and straight-up profit margin, many leaders will adapt to watching these customer metrics for the insights they can provide.
13. Customer journey mapping will grow up.
Instead of just a pretty image to post on the wall, dedicated mapping teams will begin to check in frequently with both employees and customers to make these maps living tools. Software and expertise will help the entire process become more sophisticated and integrated with the overall business.
14. Customer experience will continue to rock your world.
There will be several times in 2014 when you’ll shake your head in disbelief at how wonderful something is. You’ll post images on social media about the best ones, and rave to friends about the corner store/the customer service rep/the bank who showed you they care.
It’s exciting, isn’t it? A whole new year to see what amazing things customers and companies will do together.