Tomorrow’s Customer Calls the Shots

On This CX Day, We Look to the Future of CX

(This post is the third entry of a week-long series celebrating CX Day, CXPA’s annual event for CX professionals to network and share knowledge regarding the latest customer experience trends, insights and successes.)

This past month, I found myself in the market for a new smartphone. I’d been carrying the last one for more than two years, my contract had expired, and I fully expected to repeat the same process: Once I knew which model phone I wanted, it was a matter of deciding if I wished to recommit to the same carrier for another two years, or take advantage of another carrier’s signup offer and commit to them for the next two years. I was pleasantly surprised to find that’s simply not how it’s done anymore. You simply choose a carrier, finance (or outright purchase) the new device, and remain with said carrier for as long as you opt to continue their service. Apparently, the market made clear that smartphone customers don’t wish to be bound by long-term commitments, and the industry adjusted accordingly.

“The age of the customer”

In my view, this development says a great deal about the way customer service has shifted in recent years, and would seem to align with one observation noted in a whitepaper we recently published with MyCustomer, “2020 Vision: What will the perfect customer experience of 2020 look like?” It points out:

“Ten years ago, consumers were much more inclined to experience service in the way enterprises dictated. Now, they have evolved to dictate how they expect great customer service to be. They want to experience it in a certain way, on the most convenient channel for them (at the time) and in their own time. Another important element is that nowadays, customers are not afraid ‘to take action’ if service level is not as expected.”

This whitepaper, which seeks to map the future of customer experience, helps navigate what Forrester has called “the age of the customer,” as well as the dynamics at play in this terrific infographic, from Sage Business Solutions. In a nutshell, the next four years will see so-called “Millennials” account for more than half of the workforce, and as a result of these younger customers being accustomed to getting what they want when they want it, they anticipate customers in 2020 “will be more intelligent and informed, with more options and no lock-ins (as with my smartphone purchasing experience), and will dictate the experience.” Perhaps most notably, these customers of the not-too-distant future “will manage 85% of their relationship with businesses without interacting with a human.”

“Let our customers do the marketing for us”

It would seem we are entering an age in which customer experience is receiving an unprecedented amount of attention from the highest levels of business. I’ve mentioned previously Gartner’s assertion that 89% of brands expect to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience they provide; they also predict “50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovation” within the next year.

“2020 Vision” cites Zappos, the online footwear retailer, as a highly visible brand now succeeding with this strategy. In the words of CEO Tony Hsieh:

“Our philosophy is to take most of the money we would have otherwise spent on paid advertising or paid marketing and invest it into customer service and the customer experience instead, and let our customers do the marketing for us through word of mouth.”

Hearing the (multichannel) customer of the future

The whitepaper also emphasizes the increasing importance of multichannel customer experience, as well as predictive analytics, the so-called “Internet of Things”—according to Gartner, “by 2018, 5% of customer service cases will be initiated by internet-connected devices, up from 0.02% in 2014”—and self-service technologies, with each of these minimizing the effort required of customers as they engage with brands.

Critical to these efforts is the growing appreciation of, and aptitude for interpreting and leveraging, voice of the customer within the enterprise.

“Companies will be looking at text and speech, and trying to figure out how you can pull in proof points from the speech and text data as you go through it,” says Forrester’s Michael Gazala.

Also worth noting: While customers are moving away from direct interactions with your frontline personnel, most customers of the future will view social media and online communities as primary venues for such interactions. Ignore these growing channels, and customers will likely find themselves ignoring your brand.

Today’s customers expect a higher level of service than they received yesterday, and the level of service they receive today will inevitably prove insufficient tomorrow. When it’s time for me to purchase my next  smartphone, it’ll already be a given that I’m faced with no contractual commitments. What else will my current carrier offer, to keep me loyal? And what will you offer your customers of the future, to ensure their  continued loyalty?

As you and your organization celebrate CX Day today, it’s vital that you look towards tomorrow and anticipate the trends that’ll make or break your CX program. Download our free whitepaper today, and let’s keep the CX excellence conversation going.


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