Any CIO today who agrees even somewhat with the adage “the customer is king” knows that CX (customer experience) has never offered more possibilities or more complexities. This recent Washington Post profile of Walmart’s forays into virtual reality-driven shopping and customer engagement show just how much businesses are contorting and rethinking their models to keep today’s customers engaged and spending. As Walmart fights for leadership of the digital future of retail and customer engagement against formidable competitors like Amazon and Alibaba, CIOs across every industry need to consider who and what they are up against.
Is your business keeping pace with the CX evolution? Do you have the tech and business skills and talent in place to rapidly adapt to changing customer expectations in areas like personalization, ease of use and service excellence? Consider this list of CX trends and the skills needed to keep up. Evaluate if your business is lagging or leading in customer experience, an area where most everyone agrees matters more than ever.
The Personalization Promise
Big data may not solve everything, but it does have the ability to help businesses understand their customers and serve them better. From purchasing and browsing history to prior experiences and preferences, rich customer data offers accurate insights that can then be used to personalize engagement, services and even products to the consumer. To succeed in CX personalization requires data analytics tools and teams able to deliver accurate insights as well as CX experts able to architect customer experiences that adapt with real-time data insights.
AI to assist
More and more process oriented tasks, even in customer service, will move over to AI and other robotics process automation (RPA) solutions. Every consumer born since the turn of this century is a digital native and most others are increasingly comfortable engaging technology in new ways. Navigating how and when to leverage AI, chat bots and other technologies to support customer service is a challenging but important job. It requires experts whose skills are a balance of computer learning/AI knowledge as well as customer behavioral knowledge and insight. The blend is key because human engagement continues to be a key factor in customer service excellence. Finding where AI can augment and support it across the support life cycle takes nuance and strategy, not just technology.
Prediction and proactive engagement
Automation and analytics can help businesses identify customer service issues and opportunities before the customer even knows they are occurring. For example, many power, cable and water providers are focusing on proactive outreach for outages, letting customers know in advance when systems are experiencing issues or under repair. Rather than customers calling in to find out “what’s wrong” with their power or water, companies are alerting customers to service disruptions, so they can plan. By taking on the responsibility for the outreach, businesses are working to deliver positive CX that demonstrates an understanding of the customers’ challenges and needs. To deliver proactive engagement solutions, businesses need a combination of service, tech and business process experts who can transform a passive incoming customer service strategy with a more active, outgoing customer service approach.
Convenience is key
With customers able to ask Siri, Alexa or a growing number of voice activated AI for quick easy knowledge and support, convenience has never mattered more to customer service and retention. If Google or voice-activated tools can do a better job of informing your customers, get ready to lose them to more digitally savvy competitors. To compete today, a business must create the most convenient, customer centric experience possible. That means convoluted customer engagement processes, forms, web sites and service steps must go. This requires the expertise and imagination of dedicated CX and UX pros and strategists who accountable for analyzing, testing, and adapting interactions that embrace a customer centric approach.
Build a winning team to compete and win in CX
CX, for thousands of good reasons, is a growing profession with people whose jobs are dedicated to proactive, continuous improvement of client service and experience. It’s no longer enough for a business to have a team that knows it’s important or knows what CX means. Today you need talented professionals who are fully accountable for continuous CX improvement and innovation. Without it, your competitors have an edge. With it, you have committed to the essential art and science of keeping customers’ needs front and center. And what business fails doing that?