As always, at the end of 2015 there were a number of blog posts and articles predicting what would happen in 2016. This is part one of a two-part series based on Customer Experience Trends for 2016 written by Richard Shapiro of Customer Think in November.
This post also takes a look at industry research that supports Shapiro’s trends. Obviously, if it is a trend, there are other bloggers and industry sources witing about this trend.
The top 9 Customer Experience trends for 2016 according to Shapiro are listed below:
1 – Self-serve help will continue to grow as the first choice for consumers.
Consumers choose to find answers to their questions using an assortment of self-serve options. For 2016, companies should ensure their FAQ’s are completely up-to-date, featured prominently on their website and listed as a menu option on the IVR.
Research: Forrester Research’s most recent North American Consumer Technographics Customer Life Cycle Survey notes respondents are now using the self-service FAQ pages on a company’s website more often than speaking with an agent on the phone.
2 – Consumers have a growing trust in expert peers.
Companies and consumers are relying more on community forums to find fixes. Companies have come to embrace third-party experts as an expansion of their service offerings.
Research: Kate Leggett of Forrester noted that online forum/community use jumped from 31% in 2012 to 56% in 2015 in a research paper titled, “Your Customers Don’t Want to Call You,” published March 3, 2016.
3 – Consumers find and use social media posts to get speedy responses.
Consumers have learned their issues are resolved almost instantaneously when they post complaints on social media. The good news for the consumer; they have the company’s attention. The bad news is the world now has a record of a quality defect or poor service delivery.
Research: “Since January 2014, there has been an eight-fold increase in customer complaints made on social media. One in four social media users in the UK have used platforms to complain within the last three months,” Institute of Customer Service
4 – Multi-channel customer service will continue to grow.
Now, companies must respond to and keep track of email, chat, text, apps, etc. Consumers are not only using multi-channels to communicate, they are vaulting from one to the other making it difficult, almost impossible, to monitor and serve consumers.
Research: 92% of organizations that view customer experience as a differentiator offer multiple contact channels, Deloitte, Global Contact Center Survey
5 – Predictive and personalized technology is needed for a good customer experience.
Technology to enhance the customer experience is not sufficient unless it is predictive and personalized. Employing technology to make the customer experience easier and faster will become the new norm.
Research: “Nearly three quarters (73%) of those who had a pleasant surprise or positive experience with a proactive customer service call said that they had a positive change in their perception of the business calling them.” Forbes
6 – Voice recognition is on the rise.
Asking for information and seeking advice through the spoken word will become the norm. This trend coupled with artificial intelligence will make companies want to invest more in these technologies.
Research: Global software revenues are expected to reach $16.7 billion by 2017, this maturing industry continues to owe much of its growth to advances in the critical triad of automatic speech recognition (ASR), text-to-speech (TTS), and speaker verification (SV) technologies. ReportLinker
7 – Wearable technology is not just costume jewelry.
Wearable technology will allow retailers to provide a level of service specific to individual consumers. Wearables will also allow a company to recognize loyal customers and reward them with incentives.
8 – Video chat for pre-sales support will increase.
While the use of chat was one of the major trends for 2015, video chat, especially for pre-sales support, will increase.
Research: Roughly 100 of the top 500 corporations worldwide will be using video chat for customer-facing interactions by 2018, according to Gartner research
9 – Apps become more available for all.
More companies will invest in customized apps for their business. The app will make it easier to track consumer purchases and channel activity and will also promote new product offerings or incentives to loyal consumers.
Research: More than 30% of US e-commerce transactions are now driven by mobile. The same study also states that apps generated over 50% of mobile transactions for retailers* who have made their app experience a priority. Criteo’s Q2 Mobile Commerce Report
What it Means
While the predictions and research are interesting and worth noting, it’s also important to realize that in this ‘Age of the Customer’ the battle for customer loyalty is won one interaction or customer experience at a time. While most organizations may not want to or be able to invest in all of the trends mentioned here, at a minimum they must continue to pay attention to the basics. This leads to two statistics that every organization might want to remember:
- 82% of consumers say the number one factor that leads to a great customer service experience is having their issues resolved quickly. Econsultancy
- 95% of companies fail to exceed the expectations of their customers. American Express Global Customer Survey
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series in a few days.
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