Next week I am participating in the Consero Customer Experience Forum with a number of other Customer Experience leaders across industries. As part of the event, I am participating in a panel discussion about the future of customer experience and related trends. We will discuss what customers want and need, and why, now and in the years to come.

In preparation for the conference, I completed external research and benchmarking, looking at what customer experience experts have to say. I also considered my own personal experiences and observations. This led to the identification of the following 8 customer experience trends for 2016 and beyond, which extend to both business to consumer and business to business experiences.

  1. Service As The Brand Differentiator: At a time when we hear more about bad experiences than good, the companies that can consistently deliver a top notch experience, will differentiate themselves from the competition.
  2. Mobile Device Enabled: Businesses must provide options for customers to utilize smart phones and devices to receive support options via voice, text, email, video etc
  3. Omni channel Self-Service: Customers expect to be able to access self service support, 24x7x365, via the channel that works for them. This could include online FAQs, IVR functionality, videos, knowledge management, dashboards, training, forums etc.
  4. Social Media Presence: Customers expect businesses to have a social media presence, both to share information and to listen for question and concerns, and to respond swiftly with updates. (Facebook, Yelp, Twitter etc.)
  5. The Educated Customer Expects More: Customers are more educated than ever, BEFORE they contact your customer facing functions. They can find some of the easy information themselves in your knowledge base, in forums, on social media etc. Therefore, when they contact your business, customer facing staff need to have a higher level of experience and training, to be able to take control of the conversation and to deliver the higher or deeper level of conversation neede
  6. Customization/Personalization of Experience: Customers know that we know a lot about them. As a result they do not expect to be treated like every other customer and receive “generic” information. They expect us to customize and personalize their experience and our communication with them
  7. Speed of Service: Many of us have moved from verbal, to email to instant message communications in our work life, to speed up the communication response. Customers are used to this speed in their work and personal lives and expect this speed to translate to the customer experience. Businesses need to revisit SLAs. What used to be a 1 day turnaround, may need to move to a 1 hour turnaround.
  8. Customer Journey mapping: In order to improve your customer experience, you must know and deeply understand the existing customer experience. With this knowledge you can plan for and fill the gaps to improve the experience. (You may like this related post: “How to map the emotional customer experience”.)

Did I miss any critical trends? Please add them to the comments section.

Customer Experience Trends, Photo by Stuart Miles.
Customer Experience Trends, Photo by Stuart Miles.

© 2016, Marci Reynolds. All rights reserved.