What does 2014 hold for us in the discipline of Customer Experience? Here are a few trends that I am seeing which I believe will become more important this year. The first 4 are technology related…
Technology Spend Increases – One of the big inhibitors or enablers of a good Customer Experience is technology. As this blog in Computer Weekly states;
“76% of CFOs plan to increase their technology investments next year, with 41% planning to increase IT spending by 10% or more.”
Let’s hope some of the technology money is used not just to improve processes but used to enhance the Customer Experience.
Here is how some of the money could be spent…
The Internet of Things – This will massively affect all of our lives. People who know more about this than I say this will have a greater affect on us than the introduction of the internet itself. The Internet of things is essentially putting a wireless or Wi-Fi connection onto or into everything on earth! This Wired article gives a good overview. If you can imagine a world where everything has a sensor that can communicate, the combination of these things start to become very powerful. But it’s not that each individual thing can communicate, the power comes from the combination.
We are seeing the very first, tentative steps of this combining through services like ‘If this then that’ which combines app services. For example; I have an app on my phone that tells me about my flights. I can link this to my Wi-Fi enabled lounge lights at home, which means when I land the lights in my home, will blink off and on so my wife knows I have landed! Or my weather app predicts it is going to rain, which is linked to my SMS and sends me a text to take an umbrella. How does this affect the Customer Experience? I have an ‘Up’ Band that monitors how many steps I take in a day, how much sleep I have and whether that sleep is deep or just light sleep. I get the results of this on my iPhone. Imagine then that this information is transmitted to my healthcare insurance company and I get lower rates the more active I am. Imagine that a sensor in my fridge monitors what is in there and what I eat. This information can then again be used by the healthcare companies or it tells my local grocery store that I am out of milk and it adds to my list. Clearly there are many privacy issues but this world is not far away and will massively affect the Customer Experience.
Mobile Everything – However you communicate with your Customers there must be a mobile option. There are now more smartphones in the world than there are PC’s.
Synchronize Everything – In 2014 we will see the growth in the Omnichannel , synchronizing my experience across all my devices and providing a similar experience. I don’t want to learn 3 different ways of doing things across three different platforms from the same company. An example of this is Delta Airlines. I fly with Delta a great deal. I have an experience with them on the web; I have the app on my iPhone and on my iPad. They don’t work the same way. The layouts are different and despite being a technology geek I have still yet to master my Delta iPad app. I should not have to master different apps, they should all look and feel the same and they should all be synchronized.
Predictive Analysis will start to take hold. I think this is a massive area for development. I wrote in a blog called ‘the big hole in big data’ that to truly predict Customer behaviour you need to understand the emotional and psychological experience.
Employee Engagement will continue to grow. We have seen an upturn in people talking with us about how they can improve this. Our expert on this, Michael Lowenstein, speaks a great deal about the difference between employee engagement and employee ambassadorship. There is a distinct difference.
The Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) plateaus for many companies – We have noticed a number of companies are now speaking to us about this and what we can do to help them. In 2014 I predict more companies will suffer from this. NPS® is a good starting point but it’s not the answer to everything. What continues to get missed is the emotional side of the Customer Experience.
Customer Experience Professionals Crave Knowledge – With more Customer Experience professionals being employed by organizations, again we are seeing a growing number taking our Customer Experience Management certification course. We are planning for a further increase in 2014.
Customer Emotions – We have focussed on customer emotions since my first book, Building Great Customer Experiences, Palgrave McMillan, 2002. Last year Forrester predicted that emotional insights would be coming to the fore and were kind enough to mention our Emotional Signature®.
This year we have seen an upturn in the number of people looking at Customer emotions and undertaking our Emotional Signature®. I believe they are working on the basis they will get first movers advantage, I think they are right but what those people who don’t embrace this area don’t appreciate is it will be more pronounced. As with the person you love, your husband, wife or family if you can gain an emotional attachment it will be hard to break once established. The first movers will build emotional bonds that will be difficult to break.
The Naughty List Will Continue – A year ago I wrote a blog suggesting the discipline of the Customer Experience was in danger of dying. In 2014 we will continue to see what I call the ‘naughty list’ killing the discipline without realising it because:
- People say they are doing Customer Experience, but aren’t; all they have done is change their job title. My worry is that people are given the title of Customer Experience but don’t actually do anything different. As they are not doing anything differently and the Customer Experience is not improving the next step is the discipline of Customer Experience gets the blame and is seen to ‘not be working’. It’s a slippery slope that we are already on.
- Senior Execs say that Customer Experience is important but then not investing or making tough decisions relating to it.
- I wish I had a dollar for every person who told me they are focussing on making their Customer Experience ‘easy’ and that will solve all their problems. These people fail to realise that is what everyone is doing! Therefore it won’t provide competitive advantage it will just be the baseline that is needed.
I wish you well for 2014. Let’s hope for a positive year and some good results!
Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin has been recognized by LinkedIn as one of the top 150 Business Influencers in the world. He is an international author of four best-selling books on Customer Experience. Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialized research & training from our Global Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter: @ColinShaw_CX