Customers no longer base their purchasing decisions on the price or the quality of the product alone.
When it comes to how they’re spending their money, it’s about the entire experience with the brand that counts, based on each and every touchpoint and interaction they had.
The rise of technology is changing customers’ expectations from brands.
If those expectations are not met, you can hardly stop them from turning away to your competitor. As they will most likely share their negative experiences with others, apart from a financial loss, your reputation will be on the line too.
To be able to keep up with your customers’ expectations, you need to stay ahead of the curve.
Here are the five most important trends to pay attention to.
Use of AI
Artificial Intelligence is already transforming the way businesses and clients see customer experience.
In the years to come, the use of AI will only continue to grow. As a survey shows, 37% of organizations have already deployed AI in some form or will do so shortly. That’s almost four times more than just four years ago.
One of the best examples of AI in customer service is in direct communication with customers.
AI can easily handle simple queries, as it can gather initial information from the customers, and facilitate self-service. This way AI frees service agents and gives them time to handle complex issues, altogether providing customers with a better experience and increasing their satisfaction.
Furthermore, with the support of AI, customer service reps can have a thorough insight into their customers’ sentiments, preferences, and behaviors, as well as previous transactions. With this data instantly available, they can offer the service that better fits the needs of every particular customer.
Personalization is a key part of customer experience, and in the future, that’s what the customer service providers will focus on.
The reason for keeping this lies in the fact that 71% of customers say they feel frustrated when their shopping experience seems impersonal.
Businesses strive to better understand their customers and meet their expectations as much as possible, leveraging all the available data. Personalization starts from some relatively simple details, such as emails that address customers by their first name, to the forms that go well beyond that superficial level, such as getting personalized offers and services.
AI, machine learning and big data play a significant role in this area too, as they are capable of analyzing and interpreting huge volumes of unstructured data. Such extensive analytics, in turn, makes it possible to identify customers’ needs, interests, and preferences, as well as predict their purchasing behavior.
Interestingly, consumers are ready to share their data and put aside their privacy concerns for the purpose of obtaining a better, more personalized service and experience.
Nike, for example, provides added value – by tracking the time you’ve spent running, your sneakers will be able to tell you when you should buy a new pair. Still, this is not where the story ends.
Using augmented reality you will be able to try on shoes virtually, choose the right pair, and have it delivered to your doorstep in your size. And all that without having to go to the store.
Real-Time Customer Support
One of the main goals businesses try to achieve in order to deliver memorable user experience is real-time customer support.
With numerous technology advancements, customers are getting used to instant gratification, and they are no longer willing to put up with the old ways of doing business.
They won’t tolerate webpages that load slowly, being put on hold when they call customer support or waiting for days to have their issues solved.
What they want is for their complaints to be looked into and resolved instantly, or immediate and complete information when they are browsing your website pages or online store.
In other words, it’s essential to improve your first-contact resolution rate.
AI-powered chatbots will be there for customers 24/7, always ready to answer their questions, troubleshoot their issues, and provide accurate and immediate answers.
Social Media Support
According to a study, 63% of customers expect businesses to provide support on social media, while to 35% it’s a preferred communication channel.
This fact is no surprise as the number of social media users is constantly increasing, and a great number of them use it as a way to connect to and interact with their favorite brands. Furthermore, customers see social media communication as a faster and more direct way to get their product or service issues sorted out.
When a customer shares something on Twitter about the brand and gets a response, they are likely to spend up to 20% more on their next purchases. The math is clear – customers reciprocate with loyalty when brands care about them.
The benefits of social media will not be ignored by any serious business looking for ways to bring their customer care to the next level and grow their profits.
With AI, businesses finally have the tools to anticipate their customers’ needs and exceed their expectations.
Amazon will, for example, use predictive data analysis to ship products before customers have even ordered them. Based on the wealth of customer information, the retail giant will be able to predict what and how often a particular customer will order. Still, the shipment won’t be delivered to their doorsteps, but to the nearest shipment hub instead. Anticipatory shipping will drastically reduce the delivery time once the order gets through, and significantly boost their customers’ satisfaction.
Predicting customers’ needs is what makes Sephora Virtual Artist so popular too. With detailed insights into customers’ transaction data, the beauty brand knows when a customer needs to make their next purchase. The app also provides product recommendations based on previous purchases and offers a chance to virtually put on makeup and try out different shades.
Customer experience is changing and evolving, and businesses are testing new ideas to meet their customers’ expectations. Early adopters will benefit greatly from all these upcoming trends, so make sure to jump on the AI bandwagon and wow your customers.
by Michael Deane
Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.