From sophisticated chatbots to big tech IPOs, we take a look at what to expect in the customer experience space over the next 12 months.
In many ways, 2019 will be business as usual for those operating in CX. That’s to say, this year will be an important one for brands to focus their efforts on making sure that customers are getting value that goes beyond the product or service.
However, in order to achieve that, companies must navigate a number of consumer trends and global shifts that are shaping industry and, in turn, customer experience. With this in mind, here’s a snapshot of what we can expect to witness in the year ahead:
The age of poor chatbot experiences is over
For much of the past year, we have written about augmented services and how they can help deliver a better customer experience. While AI continues to gain ground, consumers are expecting better digital experiences. The popularity of voice-based intelligent assistants such as Alexa and Google Home has meant that consumers now want and expect businesses to emulate such devices through their customer service. Some of the latest developments in chatbots, such as intricate coding and machine learning integrations, aim to match human behaviour and offer similar services to those provided by an agent. However, as we have previously explored, elaborate chatbots will not be the sole answer to delivering beautiful customer experiences and the human touch will continue to play an important role. Either way, the age of poor chatbot experiences is well and truly over.
With prudence comes higher expectations
The economic climate is changing. At the most recent G20 meeting in Buenos Aires in November and December 2018, world leaders were warned that the global economic outlook is darkening and that they could expect a bumpier 2019. Inevitably, a slowdown in economic activity drives prudence among consumers. As customers seek more bang for their buck, brands will be forced to deliver more from their products and services. Those that don’t up their CX game will be left behind.
IPOs will drive a better customer experience
This year will see a significant number of IPOs from large tech companies. With major names like Uber, Lyft, Palantir and Slack being mooted for a stock market launch, there are reports that valuations may reach as high as $100 billion. In advance of any such IPO, companies need to reduce variability and drive higher quality, which means sharpening their business propositions, growth predictability and, indeed, CX delivery model. Expect an even better customer experience from the aforementioned companies in the months ahead.
Product quality and experience will improve (and we’ll be told so)
Over the next 12 months, certain brands will continue to focus on improving their product quality and experience, and will communicate clearly on their intent to do so. Social media platforms had a tough year in 2018. Expect to see them make significant efforts to regain the trust of users – and to inform us on how exactly they’ll do it.
To be nimble is to be successful
Companies that focus on the customer and remain agile to their needs will be successful. Monitoring and leveraging consumer insights and experimenting with opportunities to satisfy customers will prove to be much more beneficial than making large, one-off investments. Being nimble around cost base in a more challenging economic climate will also be important.
Expect conversations on China
As we draw closer to the end of Donald Trump’s US presidential term, we can expect to hear bold statements from those vying for power. One of the conversations that will arise amid much politicking will be centred on US trade with China. A large part of global economic expectations in 2019 could rest on a tariff deal between Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping. It will be an interesting development to watch and one that will have ramifications for the CX industry.
Brexit hasn’t gone away
Brexit – ‘isn’t that so 2016?’ you ask. Unfortunately not. Britain’s efforts to strike a deal and agree on the finer details of its exit from the European Union will rumble on this year and, with that, we’ll witness uncertainty in the European CX model. Brexit, and all that comes with it, is likely to decrease spend among businesses on customer investments, instead refocusing budgets on de-risking for Britain’s uncertain future. This may also cause a shift in customer operating models for CX.
Customers want to take (back) control of their data
Gone are the days that the majority of customers are unknowingly handing over their data. With more insider information on the business of harvesting data coming to light in 2018, coupled with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in Europe last May, consumers are a lot more savvy when it comes to sharing their personal details. While many are still willing to share information with brands they trust in order to obtain a more customer-focused experience, others now want to take back control of their data. For this reason, trust and transparency among brands will be even more important in 2019.
Brands are moving to subscription-based models
In 2019, we will see more companies adopt subscription models rather than traditional sales offerings in order to reflect shifts in consumerism. Subscription-based selling has the benefit of making customers feel like they’re part of an exclusive club while it offers brands targeted data, reliable and predictable revenue streams, and enhanced customer relationships. Car manufacturers are already testing the water, offering customers insurance, breakdown assistance and maintenance in one subscription bundle. Some of the brands that do subscription business best include grooming experts Dollar Shave Club, Netflix and guitar maker Fender. Expect to see more follow their lead in the months ahead.
While you’re here, you might want to be reminded about some of the CX trends that were forecasted for 2018.