TBH, I’ve had entirely too many customer experiences in the last month. A thrilling yet exhausting family milestone multiplied my consumerism by an order of magnitude, at least. Planning a Thanksgiving weekend that included (besides the obvious 🦃) an additional 3-day extravaganza around my oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah had me playing customer to more than one: caterer 🍝, event planner 🎉, hotel 🏨, florist 💐, DJ 🎤, tailor 👗, printer 🎨, delivery driver 🚗, department store associate 💸, hairstylist 💇… shall I go on? I have many thoughts on the experiences I had with each of them and more than a few suggestions ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .
While I work in the CX industry every day, and of course I’m a customer, too, it really got me thinking… what do people I do business with, people whose content I respect and consume, colleagues and customers of mine, and others in my orbit, believe lies ahead for customer experience? The things we as consumers expect change ALL the time - with the weather, the hour, and our mood, so...
What really IS the biggest thing about to happen to the customer experience in 2020?
I asked around… And what I got was pretty pretty pretty good. From students to CEOs, attorneys to advisors, coaches to consultants - there was no dearth of opining on this topic. Take a look.
Intensifying Consumer Demands Force Brands to Level Up
Consumers will move from monogamous brand loyalty to polyamorous
“2020 is the year of instant consumer gratification. Consumers will move from monogamous brand loyalty to polyamorous, turning to the brand they want based on their needs and wants in that moment. Voice and single-touch product and service ordering will start to take over the more complex digital and phone order formats. For example, I’ll see a pair of sunglasses being worn by a celebrity on Instagram, I will simply click them to purchase and they’ll arrive at my doorstep within a day. Plus, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become the dominant source for problem resolution and eliminate the need to talk to a person - except in the most complex situations.”
“What I’m seeing in customer experience is the influence of Amazon’s one-click purchase. Even B2B buyers and users are expecting more simplicity in the messages about products, more simplicity in the evaluation and purchase process, and more simplicity in how they use products. Anything that gets in the way of their understanding of what you sell, why they should buy it, and how they should use it stops them from evaluating, buying, and using the product.”
- Peter Cohen, SaaS Marketing Strategy Advisors
“Customers are tired of taking surveys, and the nonstop requests hurt the experience. Survey use will start to decline in 2020 as companies discover less intrusive ways to collect, analyze, and act on customer feedback. For example, tools now exist that allow companies to easily translate individual customer conversations into insights and trends, all without prompting customers to take another annoying survey.”
New Tech Frontiers Push Customer Experience Limits
“Voice is both a UI and a channel - and the fastest growing digital platform ever, faster than the smartphone. This has enormous implications for both companies and customers. There are already more than 200 million devices like Alexa and Google Assistant in homes, and now voice is being installed in cars, TVs, home appliances, and mobile phones. We expect 50% of all search to occur through voice channels in 2020 which will force brands to think about their voice UI/UX as strategically as they think about web and mobile UI/UX and catch up with SEO tactics and tools.
Once you've become accustomed to having your [voice] assistant available...mobile usage drops dramatically.
Anyone with a voice device can tell you that once you've become accustomed to having your assistant available for weather, music, questions, and news in-home, mobile usage drops dramatically. In 2020, we will see other consumer experiences like commerce, entertainment, and daily routines join that utility offloading to voice. And with Amazon Pay / Google Pay / Samsung Pay, voice commerce will be amongst the biggest disruptions in CX in 2020.
Voice will impact visual CX in 2020 as well. Up to 33% of voice devices are screened or are connected to screens. Which allows for a completely different level of 1-to-1 personalization. Brands will be able to customize scripting and offerings to their communities based on conversational choices customers are making and we all know what happens then. Those brands are going to convert more prospects to customers - and likely happy ones who just had the most personalized experience possible.”
"2020 will be a pivotal year in CX. New levels of connectivity (5G), automation (AI),devices (IoT) and interfaces (AR, Voice) are on a collision course to upend the customer experience. In isolation, each of these have the potential to be transformative. But together, the convergence will be game changing. We'll look back on 2020 as the year that radically changed how consumers interact and communicate with brands, products and services."
Now It's Personal...
“Personalization will not be optional - it will be the standard. Everything will have to be more humanized and in real-time, not outsourced and prompt-driven.”
- Kara Rosner, Vice President and COO, Diamond Public Relations + Social Media
"Even though we are moving towards more digital and fewer personal connections when buying products, that’s only part of what the consumer wants. Customer engagement will always be approached in a plethora of different ways depending on the size of the company. But in 2020, as we see brands adding channels like text that make it easier and more convenient to engage directly with their customers, we will also see more options for those that want the one-to-one engagement experience that makes them feel important and like what they’re buying is important.”
- Madison Franz, Student, Entrepreneur, Founder of DormBaskets
...And Legal, and Ethical
“The biggest things that I believe will happen for CX in 2020 have to do with the convergence of law, ethics, and the practice of customer experience as a business discipline. CX practitioners, consultants, and technology innovators need to be prepared.
Law: Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case where Domino's Pizza argued that they didn’t have to make their website and mobile app accessible to blind customers under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In refusing to hear the case, a lower court’s ruling in favor of customers stands. That sends a message that, for most companies, you need to consider and plan for the experiences of *all* customers in your physical *and* digital spaces.
Ethics: Customers oftentimes look to online reviews to influence their buying decisions, anticipating experiences based on those reviews. But what about fake reviews, or reviews written in a positive tone in exchange for money? The questions become: what's the ripple impact on customer trust, and how do you create and effectively evaluate customer experiences amid fake, paid, or incentivized reviews and ratings?
Customer-oriented laws and ethics questions are becoming real imperatives for the business world. That means CX practitioners, consultants, and tech innovators will have to go outside of their comfort zones to maintain clout and purpose in the C-suite. It may be daunting, but it's good for the growth of CX as a discipline, and it’s good for business.”
Gotta Getta Gig
“The entire world of Customer Experience is poised for a radical transformation. There are many to choose from, but the thing I believe will impact our space the most next year is the tremendous shift toward a gig-based economy. Jerry Leisure of Officium Labs taught me that it’s predicted that by 2025, 45-50% of companies will use gig workers for customer service. This will give organizations the ability to source incredible talent across the globe, on demand. Clearly, pajama sales are going to skyrocket. :) Goodbye traditional contact center, and hello to a new world of neighbor-to-neighbor customer experiences!”
The Employee Experience Finally Gets its Due
2020 is the year of the human in customer experience.
“2020 is the year of the human in customer experience. The further advanced we move with AI, the closer we need to be to our customers, embracing a human experience with our brand. This also means acknowledging the impact of how the employee experience affects the customer experience as a whole. In order for our teams to take the best care of our customers, leaders need to set the stage to care for themselves, be active listeners to what their teams need to be successful and understand that “wellbeing” means more than just healthy snacks in the break room.”
“A customer-focused culture will only be created through engaged and valued employees. Training and support translate to positive outcomes in customer experiences and create brand loyalty.”
- Karen Carasik , Esq., J.D.; Corporate and compliance counselor
The Last Word
“Let’s get one thing straight - Artificial Intelligence (AI) does not exist today. Yes, the concept is real, but it has yet to come to fruition. What I mean is, there does not yet exist a machine that can replicate human thought. That is what AI means. What IS real today that just about everyone assumes is the same thing (but isn’t) is Machine Learning (ML). Everything we see and know today that people refer to as AI is actually ML.
With that clear, of course there are enormous productivity gains to be realized from utilizing ML in customer-facing interactions, like using bots to perform repetitive tasks like account lookups or billing queries. However, I believe the biggest untapped potential for ML lies inside of organizations around internal processes.
For example, in 2020, we’ll begin to see leading brands use machines to learn how individual employees perform on good days vs. bad days. Using sentiment analysis and natural language understanding (NLU), they’ll identify patterns in each person’s productivity - on ‘good’ days, Bob can handle 1 call and 3 chats simultaneously. On a day he’s lagging because he worked the late shift the night before, however, he can’t manage any chats while he’s on a customer call.
With information on patterns like this, contact center software can route interactions to Bob according to the kind of day he’s having (knowable from the NLU and sentiment analysis data). This completely removes the need for manual provisioning of that contact center software - freeing up valuable supervisor and IT resources … multiplied by every contact center employee. We’re talking dozens of hours a week - not to mention that every customer Bob serves would have a top-notch experience because Bob’s plate would be only as full as he could expertly handle.
This is where ML can take us if we’re ready to go.”
If you've made it this far, Mazel Tov on the tenacity. Tweet me @EdifyCMO and tell me what YOU think will be the biggest thing to happen to the customer experience in 2020 - then let's chat. Meantime, wishing you happy holidays and a healthy new year. May all the good things be yours. ✌️💚🙃