Increasingly, small and medium businesses have a ready-to-go customer experience strategy. If this is the case with you as well – don’t worry. It’s still not too late to get in on CX and reap its benefits. It’s still a relatively new field but that’s not to say it’s an easy strategy to develop. In fact, 81% of CX leaders say their companies will compete nearly solely on experience within the next few years but only 22% of leaders say their efforts have exceeded customer expectations. The fact of the matter is that if your customer’s experience is poor, customers will eventually switch brands – it’s only a matter of time. This is why it’s so important to have a strong customer experience strategy. If, for some reason, CX hasn’t been on your radar until now, you should consider implementing it as part of your bigger customer retention strategy. Luckily for you, it’s not too late to start. So, if you’re just thinking of starting 2019 by applying a customer experience strategy to your business – here are some key trends you might want to keep an eye out for to help you get started.
1. Instant gratification
Customers don’t like waiting. Period. Whether it be for waiting for the site to load, for a response to their emails, chat questions and more – they expect their problems to be top of the line priority for you. Now, this makes sense when you think about it. Customers look to spend the least amount of time and effort. If they don’t like something, they’ll abandon a site, even if what they’re looking for might be just a click away. According to Kissmetrics, 47% of visitors expect a website to load in just under 2 seconds and 40% of them will leave if it takes more than 3 seconds. Likewise, 84% of customers have given up on a business due to a live chat being a frustrating experience and having a slow response time. This means businesses are losing revenue simply based on a customer’s initial impression of them, and this happens even before any actual interactions take place. Speed and convenience are some of the biggest factors affecting customers in general. This is the case with the live chat experience as well. It’s vital your team gets this right if you want to attract and retain customers. (Pro tip: chatbots are useful for this). For small and overburdened teams this can be hard though. So, to cut down on response times, consider keeping all of your support conversations in one place or setting up notifications for real-time conversations. Most customers (42%) already prefer live chat over other forms of support (even email and social media) as it allows for them to get their questions answered in real-time. As a company, if you’re looking to meet your customer expectations and retain them, be sure to work on your instant communication strategy.
According to Segment, 71% of customers find impersonal experience frustrating and feel that they’re talking to a robot instead. It’s an interesting trend but 19 out of 20 consumers would also rather receive personalized and actually helpful expert support, even if it’s slow paced, over low-quality support. Consumers value high-quality support over speed – quality over quantity. Not surprisingly though, 93% of companies that invest in personalization, tend to see higher conversion rates in return. So far, the trend is that personalization increases conversion rates and sales – but that’s not all. Personalization also influences what people buy, it affects brand preference and builds loyalty among customers. If you want to see personalization done right, just look at Spotify. Their music recommendation algorithm (based on your interests) has gathered millions of fans with playlists that fit their individual preferences. In the eCommerce world, you can use your data similarly to personalize products and services more effectively. Whether it’s emails greeting them by their name, or tailored packages based on previous buying habits, customers are used to getting what they like without companies having to ask. Businesses looking to offer the best customer experience in 2019 should definitely look into utilizing their customer data as a way to make their relationship more personal. Having access to their buying habits, pain points, and how they interact with your brand is a great start. Segmentation is key to understanding your target audience. Know who you’re targeting and make sure you’re connecting with your customers on a personal level.
3. Predictive analytics and insights.
Speaking of data and machine learning, one of the biggest impacts you can have on your customer experience in 2019 is thinking steps ahead of your customer. Though you can’t predict everything, it’s always a good idea to try and walk a mile or two in your customers’ shoes. Predictive analytics allow companies to develop more effective strategies and identify valuable opportunities to improve CX ahead of time. As opposed to basing decisions on your interactions with customers that may have affected your reputation in a negative way. Prevention is better than cure. Using big data and preventing mistakes before they even happen can save you a lot of time and money down the road. In turn, customers will have a better experience with your business. To better map out your analytics, consider attaching relevant CX metrics to your decisions that impact the end user. Knowing in advance what your customers want is a strong way to improve your overall CX strategy. It gives you a better understanding of your customer and puts you ahead of your competitors as well. Ideally, all this will be based on data and insight that you gain from your customers. So, it shouldn’t be a shot in the dark, but rather, a way to bring you and your customers closer. Predictive analytics help you stay ahead of the curve in terms of your customer behavior and purchase patterns, while for your customers this means a smoother and a more intuitive way of interacting with your brand.
All in all, as important as the above trends are, it’s also crucial to implement CX as part of your company culture if you want to get far. Customer experience is more than just trends and data to increase conversions and sales. It’s all about providing the right experience tailored for each individual customer. It’s about looking at things from your customers perspective and showing empathy. One of the biggest CX challenges is identifying what exactly your customers want and delivering on that – It’s about living up to your customers’ expectations. So, if you’re thinking of implementing customer experience strategy, start focusing on the needs of your customers. Once you gain a deeper understanding of what makes them tick, you can then start implementing the above key trends and take your customer engagement to the next level.