In order to become and remain competitive, companies need to tap into the latest technologies and customer experience trends. Here are 6 customer experience trends every company must get ready for.
# 1 - REALLY Understanding Customers
It's no longer enough to have a surface-level understanding of customers. It's assumed every business should know who their customers are, where they live, how old they are, and other rudimentary info. Today, companies must go deeper, and with fast-advancing technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), they are able to get a 360-degree view of customers and markets. Consider how Disney uses Magic Bands at its theme parks. The bands offer Disney visitors lots of conveniences, such as no longer needing to carry a wallet, room key, or park tickets, but Disney also gets a lot of data in return that helps them really understand park visitors. The bands help Disney know where you are in the park, what attractions you visit, and how long you wait in line to do so, how much money you spend, and more. By using machine vision technology in its theatres, Disney is gathering data from facial expressions to gauge how visitors are reacting to performances. Any business can use artificial intelligence (AI) to extract meaning from all the data they gather to understand their customers at a completely new level.
# 2 - Responding to YOU in THIS Moment
When you really understand customers, you can deliver content, purchasing options, and advertising for what they desire at each moment of the day. Responding to customers at THIS moment is the next customer experience trend that's gaining traction today. This trend involves mass customization and taking advantage of micro-moments to offer customers what they need in the precise moment they have that need. For example, Spotify is beginning to develop customised playlists for customers that account for what they’re doing during the day. What they want to listen to on their morning commute varies from what they desire for a workout playlist when they are at the gym. In a similar way, Netflix is also sending viewers recommendations based on what they know about a customer’s typical viewing patterns. They learn what genres are typically watched and when and will serve up recommendations to match. So, if a person tends to search for family films on the weekends and action-packed, R-rated SciFi options after 8 pm on weeknights, Netflix learns your entertainment preferences and makes appropriate suggestions for what to watch whatever time you tune in.
# 3 - Anticipating Customer Needs
The more you know about customers, the better you can predict what they might want or need in the future. That’s predictive analytics at work to improve the customer experience. The elevator company Kone uses machine data on their equipment to schedule maintenance and service visits or to identify when intervention is needed before a breakdown occurs. The customer experience is definitely improved when the number of times an elevator stops working and traps people inside is reduced. The cruise ship line Royal Caribbean also uses technology to improve the customer experience. With facial recognition technology, waitstaff can learn many things about you as you sit down to dine at a restaurant, including your likes/dislikes, allergies, and more so they can offer recommendations to you that fit your preferences. This also allows the company to better plan and predict demand and therefore reduce waste.
# 4 - Actively Adding Value (AI enabled) to Relationships
In the past, it was enough for a company just to offer a product or service: banks provided checking and savings accounts, health insurance companies provided health insurance. Today, customers expect more. They want more value-added to the relationships you offer. You can add the value customers expect when you understand who they are and their needs. Vitality Health is an insurance company, but they don’t just provide health insurance to their customers. They support their customers on a journey to better health and to achieve their health goals with value-added amenities such as an Apple Watch and feedback about how to be healthier. Similarly, the bank HSBC offers traditional products such as savings and checking accounts but is developing services and products that guide customers to better investments, areas where they can spend less or other education to help them achieve their financial goals.
# 5 - Augmented Customer Experience
New technologies such as virtual, augmented, and mixed reality have paved the way for companies to interact with customers in innovative ways. The eyeglass retailer Warby Parker uses augmented reality technology to give customers a chance to “try on” different glasses through their smartphones. Rolex streamlines the decision-making process as well with augmented reality allowing you to try out different versions of watches virtually.
# 6 - Make It A Tangible Experience
We live in an overwhelmingly digital world, but people still crave a tangible experience. Think about how vinyl records have made a comeback—listeners want to feel the vinyl as they place it on the player, hear the crackling of the record and watch as it spins around. The largest revenue category for musicians is live events and concerts. The clothing store Hollister provides an in-store experience that tantalises shoppers’ senses with enticing lighting and even a bespoke store fragrance. Apple gives customers the opportunity to experience first-hand the clean, sleek design aesthetic of the company’s products in its stores while they are able to use the tablets, push buttons on the phone and otherwise handle all of Apple’s innovative products.
Companies who bring many of these customer service trends to life are the ones who are going to be successful. Nike is one of those companies. They invested in a value-added app that helps customers track their runs. At the same time, the app provides value to the customer, it's providing information about customers to Nike. So, after a certain amount of miles run, the app might suggest to the customer it's time for a new pair of Nikes. Through augmented reality, the customer can point the app to their foot and try on different styles. Then, it's able to size your foot perfectly, and you can place the order and get your new trainers in record time. And for those that prefer a tangible experience, you can touch, feel, and smell their products in their flagship stores.
Bernard Marr is an internationally bestselling author, futurist, keynote speaker, and strategic advisor to companies and governments. He advises and coaches many of the world’s best-known organisations on strategy, digital transformation and business performance. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 5 business influencers in the world and the No 1 influencer in the UK. He has authored 16 best-selling books, is a frequent contributor to the World Economic Forum and writes a regular column for Forbes. Every day Bernard actively engages his almost 2 million social media followers and shares content that reaches millions of readers.