As we near the end of 2015, I’ve been asked by many authors, bloggers and reporters to share my thoughts on what we can expect in 2016. Well, when you know what’s been going on it’s a lot easier to predict what might happen next.
So, what do I think is new and exciting? All we have to do is look back, even just a few months, to know how cool next year is going to be. Let’s take a look at what has happened in customer service and the customer experience in 2015. Here are a few observations to consider as we move into the new year.
- Customers are smarter than ever, at least as it applies to customer service and CX, and therefore, their expectations are higher.
I’ve been saying this for many years. They just keep getting smarter. How? Because they see it on TV. They see shows and commercials that showcase what good service looks like. And, we teach them. We advertise how great our service is. We show off the awards that we have received. And the good news is that some of us actually deliver on the promise of great service. Customer expectations are higher, and they will continue to rise.
The interactions between your customers and your employees is still at the heart of it all
- Data is helping to drive the customer experience.
The more we know about our customers, the better we can service them. And that includes the buying process as well. Thanks to the world of social media, we can spot trends and can even customise our message and thereby increase our value to the individual customer. We use social media to track a customer’s likes, dislikes, buying habits and more. And, the ability to get that data is advancing. Ideally the customers give us the data, but even if they don’t, there is plenty of juicy info to be found.
- Pay attention to the weather.
I had no idea how important weather was to the customer experience until I attended the IBM Insights conference and learned that IBM bought The Weather Company, (except for The Weather Channel.) There is a direct correlation between the weather and customer behavior, and if you’re smart, you’ll learn more about it and use it to your advantage.
- Thank you for sharing. In addition to the data that we are able to glean from social media and other sources, customers are willing to share information about themselves with the companies that they trust the most. The key is to use it the right way so you don’t alienate the customer. Sending appropriate promotional content, at the right time and the right frequency, is the key. Over-promote or send the wrong type of content, and the customer may disappear from your database.
- Omnichannel is even more “omni.”
The number of ways your customer interacts with your company continues to grow. What “channel” are they on? A desktop computer? A mobile phone? A watch? And, are they e-mailing, texting or chatting? We’ll continue to see a growth pattern as our customers use their mobile devices more and more to communicate with us.
- Wearables are more than a fashion statement.
Some might say this topic could fall under the omnichannel heading, but I believe it deserves its own. That little band around your wrist that tells you how many steps you’ve taken is becoming a collector’s item. Who needs it when it is now built into your watch? And, your watch can do more than count steps. In addition to displaying the time, it can monitor your heart rate and blood pressure, inform you of e-mail and more. And the next time you’re shopping at a favorite store, it might connect with the store’s wifi and send you a message about the latest promotion, customised for you. By the way, that last one is the big one: promotions sent to your customers’ phones and watches. Take advantage of sending personalised messages to your customers at the most appropriate times, in particular, when they are in your store and in the mood to buy. Go beyond just a great customer service experience – give your customer a great buying experience.
My hope is that this list will get you thinking. Are you meeting – or better yet, exceeding – your customer’s expectations? Are you taking advantage of the Big Data that can help you predict trends? Are you using the information your customers are willing to share to create a better, more customised experience? Are you connecting with customers in the ways that they like to connect? And, are you taking advantage of creating a better buying experience by promoting to your customer at just the right time?
Remember, however, there are some things that never change. In the end, no matter how many technologically up-to-date tools you add to help you create a better customer experience, how much data you have or how perfectly customised your promotions are, the interactions between your customers and your employees is still at the heart of it all. So, hire right and train right, because the actions of just one person can get in the way of the hoped-for effects of all your efforts and investment.
Shep Hyken is a customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. Shep works with companies and organizations who want...