As Fintech and Insurtech companies disrupt traditional financial services providers with a laser focus on their consumers and a rising millennial consumer base demanding personalized service, businesses will continue to innovate into the next year and beyond. Here are a few predictions on where we see customer experience moving in 2017.
1. Customer experience will make the difference between successful and unsuccessful companies.
The customer journey is increasingly defined by customer experience. Forrester called the phenomenon three years back “the age of the customer” and some of its recent research connects high-quality customer experience to growing revenues. Justin Dipietro, COO and Co-Founder of Glia, predicts that companies (specifically Insurance ones) with the best online customer experience will triumph, as it will become one of their primary differentiation points in 2017. This mirrors a similar projection made by Walker, a customer intelligence consultancy, where they believe by 2020 that customer experience will become the No. 1 differentiator between brands, outpacing both price and product.
As CEO and co-founder at Apptentive Robi Ganguly notes, “In 2017, customer experience will move from a vague concept executives know they need to invest into a top-line priority.” A CMO.com survey found that 1 in 5 marketers point to customer experience as the most exciting opportunity they’re chasing this year. More than 80 percent see customer experience as essential–and with good reason. According to CEI, 86 percent of buyers say they’ll pay more for a better customer experience.
2. Companies will measure customer experience more effectively.
Metrics like the net promoter score and wallet allocation rule are notoriously underused to measure customer experience. According to Forrester, just 1 in 5 companies leverage customer experience data to improve areas like customer retention and save money. According to Glia Director of Marketing Jeffrey Mack, as customer experience becomes explicitly essential in the new year, companies will look for better ways to begin measuring it. Robi Ganguly agrees, adding, “We’ll see more companies try to put an objective score on their CX across all of their channels instead of measuring CX in silos.”
To that end, we’ll begin seeing companies focus more on a central platform that tracks multiple facets of the customer experience. An omnichannel strategy ensures firms can track their progress easier, as well as save consumers steps when seeking help. Plus, retention rates are 41 percent higher for omnichannel support compared to businesses that offer multi-channel support.
3. Customer experience platforms will shift online.
Forrester reveals over a third of U.S. adults who are online will shift companies to find digital experiences that engage them in new ways, notes Cliff Corden, Forrester’s Chief Research and Product Officer. In addition, Dipietro believes that more and more customer experience will migrate online as in-person experiences such as bank branches and retail stores shut down. Legacy stores like The Limited are closing up brick-and-mortar shops and selling products online. JCPenney is also on the verge of closing at many as 300 of its stores within the next two years.
As service goes digital, specific tools will rise in popularity. Video chat, for one, will take another step in moving to business transactions to facilitate high-value CX experiences. CoBrowsing will also become expected for a customer experience. Technology needs to seamlessly marry convenience with human help.
4. Bots will force contact centers to evolve.
Emerging technologies will enable customer service of all kinds to improve—online and off. Bots’ popularity has skyrocketed recently, and the unfolding year should see their influence steep into other methods of contacting centers. Dan Michaeli, Glia Co-Founder and CEO, predicts the hype around bots will put heat on contact centers, and these centers will start their evolution into something more advanced. Business units providing remote sales and servicing will transform into engagement centers with an unrelenting focus on the customer experience. This new rich chapter will be marked by the value and versatility of the human connection.
Forrester expects companies to triple their investment in artificial intelligence this coming year. Simultaneously, firms will realize bots’ shortcomings. Though bots can streamline the process, customer experience will always need a human touch. Furthermore, bots still have a number of kinks developers need to work out before they’re ready for primetime. Condon expects more experimenting with chatbots and voice-activated platforms will expose at least one Fortune 1,000 company to “go out of business due to poor resiliency planning following a security breach.”
Kicking off 2017, many changes to customer experience are on the horizon. We predict companies will increasingly center their customers, as they realize the increased profits, saved time, and customer retention the focus yields. Companies will put all hands on deck in their efforts, leveraging a variety of technological and old-school tactics. Time will tell which of these predictions are most accurate, but one thing is for sure, the customer experience will be king in 2017 and beyond.