2016 has been deemed the “year of the customer,” and just a couple of months in, it’s already living up to its name. This year, personalized, omni-channel experiences and customer empowerment rule.
Here are a few of the top Customer Experience trends to watch this year:
Trend 1: Partnerships and co-branding
From retail to hospitality to consumer packaged goods, prepare to see more businesses partnering up to bring blended experiences to customers. Think of the many brick-and-mortar grocery chains that have partnered with digital delivery companies like Instacart. This partnership allows traditional grocers to better compete with online food delivery services and sites like Amazon. According to Forrester’s report, Digital Customer Experience Trends, 2016, by partnering up with more digitally-savvy businesses, companies can leverage new and emerging devices, displays, and interfaces that will allow them to provide new experiences to their customers.
Trend 2: Micro Data
In 2015, big data was all the rage, now micro data is the new Customer Experience buzzword. (Not to be confused with microdata, which is an actual thing — the specification to embed machine-readable data in HTML documents.) But from a Customer Experience standpoint, micro data is considered more granular than other types of consumer data. While big data looks more at overall customer trends, micro data looks at individual customer buying patterns and preferences. This allows organizations to truly understand their individual customers and personalize customer journeys with targeted, timely, and relevant interactions.
Trend 3: Self-service
Customers today don’t want to waste time and energy calling/emailing/chatting with customer service agents. They want to be empowered to find answers on their own, in their own time. Thanks to self-service portals and customer communities, companies can enable their customers to do just that. Providing them with a library of information and tools to investigate their own issues can create a more positive Customer Experience, while also saving the company money.
Trend 4: Personal assistants and concierge programs
Even in a digital world, personalized service is an important part of the Customer Experience — maybe even more so. That’s why this year you’ll see more companies investing in engagement software and mobile apps that strengthen the relationship between consumer and brand. As customers have become accustomed to talking to virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, companies are trying to mimic that with digital personal assistants and concierge apps of their own.
To encourage guests to book directly rather than through online booking sites like Orbitz and Kayak, many hotels are beefing up their own apps with special features and perks, like automatic check-in and the ability to select your own room.
It’s important to remember that while AI-driven solutions are cool and helpful, they can never fully take the place of real people and human interaction. Companies that can seamlessly blend slick, digital experiences with personalized human touch will be the most successful.
Trend 5: Human-centered design
According to MarketingProfs, design should be a Customer Experience professional’s new best friend in 2016. What sets companies like Uber apart from their competition is ease of use and elegance of design within their applications. Customers expect a tailored experience and apps that deliver content that is relevant to them. They demand experiences designed with their wants, needs, and behaviors in mind. For any size company in any industry, human-centered design is possible — when humans are involved. It’s important for actual customers to be involved and consulted in the design process when creating mobile apps or any other digital tools designed for them.
Leverage some of these trends in your own business and learn more about creating personalized, omni-channel experiences in our ebook, Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience.