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Matt Candy: Trends and predictions in CX

10th Dec 2014
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As the end of 2014 rapidly approaches, I find myself reflecting on the last year and thinking about the biggest trends, how these have impacted on the companies we work with. In 2014 we have seen successful organisations move from providing customer centric experiences to human centric experiences.  All of these organisations have recognised that in order to respond to their customers’ constantly evolving expectations they need to provide experiences that go beyond channels, to experiences driven by insight. Experiences that exploit the convergence of the physical and digital and that are always ‘on’. Experiences that their customers love.

Companies are moving from the old idea of being customer-centric towards becoming more customer activated. In doing so they are realising that this requires profound change, change in everything from mind-set and culture to strategy and operations. In a recent IBM study 60% of CEOs told us that customers have a significant level of influence on every aspect of their business, not just products and services, but on their strategy as well.

So that’s good news. It means we are now seeing more companies placing the customer at the heart of their strategy and rethinking their models of engagement. They are reviving their brands across all of their interaction points, looking beyond multi-channel to omni-channel, looking to converge their digital experiences with physical experiences and finally using insight into their customer’s behaviour to develop a personalised meaningful relationship.

The other change I have seen is a growing understanding that the right data combined with a properly immersive experience, enables fruitful engagement. Experience alone will not guarantee that a customer remains engaged with a brand. In the same way a focus on data alone won’t deliver the promise. It’s not about housing huge warehouses of data, collected across various touchpoints, used to provide some superficial personalisation. It is more personal than that. It is about getting to the behavioural and attitudinal data that reveals the human being and using this to provide an experience that enables engagement. No-one says it easy but the additional value delivered to customers is significant.  

Successful organisations understand that the front-end experience any individual has with their brands, products or services is the point of entry to the relationships that will generate the most valuable information any enterprise can ever possess -- information on individual preferences.  Brilliant engagement creates new data and starts the cycle of even deeper understanding.

In 2015, I think employees will be a major focus. Companies need to ensure that the customer is at the heart of their business strategy such that they can enable valuable human-to-human experiences - and that means engaging their employees in understanding and contributing in a positive way, to that experience. There will be a focus on creating environments where employees are empowered and motivated to create these experiences. It won’t be about command and control – it will be about creating environments for brilliance – at scale. 

Just to develop that theme – I think organisations need to create a culture where employees are empowered to have a conversation and develop a relationship with their customers, not just deal with their queries in the shortest time possible.  It will also mean companies will have to address the challenge of how to unlock expertise into their organisations and scale the collective intelligence of the enterprise down to the level of single individuals.

There will also be more focus on the “consumerisation” of the business experience, enabling employees to engage within the enterprise in much the same way they do as consumers, freeing them up to engage in more meaningful, informed ways with their customers.  There are estimates that show more than half (60 percent) of mobile devices in business are doing nothing beyond email and calendaring, clearly demonstrating that the potential of mobility is not being exploited to its fullest extent.

One final prediction - I think that companies will place a lot of focus on innovating how they approach experience design and management.  We will see companies look to change how they go about designing experiences for their customers, they will start to break down traditional organisation silos to enable employees to collectively design meaningful experiences for their customers.  This will see the adoption of new methods and ways of working such as agile and the formation of design labs that are made up of cross functional experts from marketing, services, design, IT, and agencies who will collectively design new models of engagement for customers.

So, in summary, I think 2015 will be all about that critical customer experience, driven by engaged employees focused on design, innovation and moments that matter.

Interested in this topic? Why not take a look at IBM's C-Suite Study.


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