For any business the ability to see into the future is something they would probably pay millions for. To know the future wants and needs of their customers would be priceless. Now Mycustomer and NICE Systems have teamed up to create a window into the Customer Experience future with this white paper titled "2020 Vision: What Will the Perfect Customer Experience of 2020 Look Like?".
They have achieved this by tracing the emergence of customer experience, analysing how it has changed over the last decade to its current standing and explaining how brands can deliver the 'perfect' customer experience of today. They have named a few of those who appear to be getting it right before predicting what the 'perfect' customer experience will look like in 2020, and how businesses can start on the trajectory of realizing this vision for success.
10 years ago:
A decade ago, before the days of online shopping, customers had less choice than they do now. They had fewer channels on which to purchase and engage with the business and no social media to publically air their grievances if their service experience was poor. Then ecommerce came to the fore and businesses had to provide a platform to interact with their customers online. This led to more digital channels, social media and the need to provide quicker and more seamless service resolutions. As businesses converged to provide the same offering for product and price, customer experience emerged as a strategy to help differentiate, retain customers and grow the customer base.
In fact, in 2012, Ed Thompson, research director at Gartner, told MyCustomer: "10 years ago, I met my first VP of customer experience in America and there's now 2,100 of them, so we've gone from none to 2,100 people doing this job full-time."
So, no surprises that in the last 10 years things have changed. But this white paper is all about what the future holds. In order to see that, we first have to understand what Customer Experience means today.
Consumers now use more digital channels than ever before to buy more than ever before. According to NICE Systems' 2014 Global Customer Experience Survey, customers use on average six different channels to contact companies for various customer service questions, issues or complaints - ranging from social media to email. Today's customers have come to expect a joinedup approach to service and to be able to seamlessly continue a single conversation or transaction even if they choose to change channels.
According to the Deloitte and eBay report, omnichannel has presented a huge opportunity for businesses to improve the customer experience and to differentiate themselves from the competition. In 2013, when the term 'omnichannel' first came to the fore, Gartner predicted that by 2015, businesses without an omnichannel strategy would lose 15-20% of their best customers to competitors. But how will this change or evolve over the next 10 years?
Given that the technological transformation of the past decade was a significant driver in changing consumer expectations, we can expect that new and improved technologies will accelerate further changes. Predictive analytics – knowing what a customer's next best action will be – is set to become even more sophisticated. As Forrester describes it, "predictive analytics is a key capability to make better decisions, avoid risks, and create differentiated, more individualised customer experiences."
The Internet of Things (IoT) is also set to dramatically impact the future of customer experience. Gartner recently forecast that by 2018, 5% of customer service cases will be initiated by internet-connected devices, up from 0.02% in 2014. With the home expected to have more than 500 smart objects, connectivity of these devices will make many of them service agents in and of themselves.
Contact center technologies will also adapt to the changing landscape as speech recognition, virtual agents, video chat, mobile service and voice biometrics will become commonplace and traditional tools like IVR will improve to become a viable solution that delight consumers.
The trend is very much towards self-service and a reduction in the amount of effort that the consumer must exert to reach a resolution. For instance, voice biometrics – which verifies a person's identification by taking a voiceprint of the customer on a previous call – will drastically decrease the average call time and save consumers from the dissatisfying and long authentication process.
There are a whole host of other technologies that are likely to impact the customer service ecosystem in the years to come, from augmented reality to wearable user interface to 3D printing. The combination of all these technologies will dramatically alter consumer expectations. As they become everyday commodities customers will expect a standard of service that utilises these technologies. It also stands to reason that social customer service will become more integrated with brands' CRM strategy.
According to NICE Systems' 2014 Global Customer Experience Survey, consumer use of social media and mobile apps for customer service has doubled since 2011, and businesses are responding. Frost and Sullivan recently stated that more than 80% of retail businesses now use social media for customer service in a bid to cope with consumers ever increasing demands for timely and informed responses.
Are you 2020 ready?
It's imperative that businesses adopt these technologies and trends, as well as adapt their service strategy to future-proof themselves. One of the biggest changes in service strategy is a move towards proactive engagement of customers. In Forrester's 2015 predictions for the customer service sector, analyst Kate Leggett forecasted that brands that deliver a more sophisticated customer experience will be those who pre-empt customer requirements through active insights and data.
We believe the future of customer experience, i.e.: technology; internet of things; social media; predictive analytics; and automated processes can all be summarized into the phrase recently embraced by NICE CEO, Barak Eilam "The Experience of Things (XoT)". Let the future begin now!