Customer experience (CX) refers to a customer’s perception of his or her interactions with a brand throughout the varying stages of the purchasing journey. Going beyond just customer service, CX consists of every touchpoint a customer has with a company. This includes their experience navigating an ecommerce site, how quickly their messages to social media accounts receive a response, and all the way down to their impressions of a product’s packaging.
Realizing customer experience is a vital brand element is hardly revolutionary, but it’s important for any company to constantly refine their approach. As consumer tastes and trends shift, so do the technologies developed to meet them. By continuously working to create a meaningful yet efficient customer experience, companies can gain a vital edge in a crowded marketplace. In fact, a recent study projects that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the end of the year.
Below are four trends helping businesses stay ahead of customers’ evolving expectations:
According to the Harvard Business Review, 81 percent of customers across all industries attempt to resolve issues themselves before contacting a customer support representative.
To that end, any positive customer experience must be crafted with a full-fledged slate of “self-assist” tools. This can be anything from a webpage dedicated to product FAQs or video tutorials posted to YouTube or a social media account. Customers value not having to call customer support as a first resort. Plus, promoting self-service frees up staff to focus on more complex troubleshooting requests.
To adapt to customers’ busy lifestyles, many businesses are turning to chatbots to provide fast and reliable responses to simple inquiries.
Chatbots, powered by artificial intelligence, are most often deployed through websites and social media platforms. The technology delivers 24/7 support to customers and is used for a wide variety of functions, such as requesting technical support, scheduling an appointment, accessing flight information, or booking a hotel room.
By using algorithms to anticipate what a user needs next, based on their previous actions, chatbot technology can deliver immediate, personalized communication when a customer reaches out. And studies show this kind of technology is well received, with 53 percent of consumers reporting that they prefer to message a company before phoning for support.
Augmented Reality Marketing
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that enhances a real-life environment with an overlay of three-dimensional graphics. One example of AR, the Pokémon GO app, became a pop culture sensation several years ago, allowing users to visit real-world locations to “capture” computer-generated characters.
In marketing campaigns, AR technology is often used to provide prospective customers with a lifelike impression of a product or service.
Successful implementation of AR is catching on in the clothing, cosmetics and furniture industries. Online furniture retailer Wayfair, for example, developed a mobile app with an AR feature that allows customers to see virtual furniture and décor in their homes at full scale.
The benefits of Wayfair’s application are easy to see, but AR shouldn’t be considered a “one-size-fits-all” marketing tactic across all industries. Without providing clear value to prospective customers, AR can swiftly be discerned as a gimmick and ignored by a target audience.
Many businesses now collect customer feedback through video recording widgets. While it’s commonplace to use online or over-the-phone surveys to gather customer experience data and analytics, studies show customer feedback in video form is more impactful to the employees who review it. Observing facial expressions and emotions is much more motivating than reading a block of text, stirring empathy and compelling action to solve issues or improve the customer experience.
As the adoption of artificial intelligence increases, and 5G mobile networks expand, the new decade is shaping up to be revolutionary for the customer experience. Businesses must embrace the change or run the risk of becoming obsolete. The organizations that proactively evaluate their processes and strategically invest in technology will have a distinct competitive advantage over those who choose to “deal with it later.”
What customer experience trends are your business embracing? Join in the conversation on the Baer Performance Marketing Facebook Page.