5 Customer Experience Trends to Watch in 2018

Last year saw some ground-breaking technologies make their way into the customer experience (CX) sector including automation of issue handling, intelligent assistants and artificial intelligence (AI).

This has definitely caused some ripples in the CX world but not enough to truly make a difference as customer variables are changing faster than new technologies can keep up with.

For instance, customer spending is on the rise while at the same time customer confidence is waning. Many brands and companies continue to lose customer trust with some of the biggest names in the industry being impacted. Consumers are continuously looking for more and more from businesses, but unfortunately for many companies, budgets are not unlimited!

To address this gap, companies are going to need to take action, and in many cases, technology is the way forward. Here are some customer experience trends that we can expect to see in 2018 as the new changes in the CX sector are integrated.

Chatbots Take Center Stage in Customer Experience

Although this is an extension of what we saw in 2017, we can expect the use of chatbots to increase in 2018. Chatbots are now in use throughout the customer experience sphere cutting across companies and industries of all kinds.

The Marriot Hotel is a good example of a multinational company that has adopted chatbots with others like Sephora and Globe Telecom following suit. This has been helped by Facebook Messenger launching their new bots service where more than 100,000 chatbots are now in use.

The companies stand to benefit from better response time and diverting traffic from conventional channels like call centers for cost-saving benefits. Chatbots are a great way to automate customer service and promote an effortless experience for customers with rapid response times and dynamic ways to offer customer feedback.

An added advantage of chat, in general, is that it can be provided at the impact point directly. Unlike traditional phone service where a rep is asking where on a page a customer has an issue, with chat support, the rep is on the same page as the customer and is often able to direct them better. Also, the fact that a chat rep is often able to handle 3-4 simultaneous sessions, makes support significantly more efficient!

The Upsurge of Personalization to Save Time

If you understand that a customer does not really want to talk to you, you’ll work really hard to ensure that when they do call, they are serviced in as efficient a manner as possible.

This theory is popularized by CEB and their publication the Effortless Experience, and it makes it clear that the only true way to gain loyalty from your customer is not through the superhuman efforts of your staff, but rather ensuring that your teams are efficient and effective.

Companies are now hyper-aware of the value of customer’s time. Everyone who has access to digital media be it television or the internet is familiar with the irrelevant and spammy advertisements that are pushed by various companies. However, as businesses become savvier, it has dawned on many companies that these irrelevant ads are irritating and waste customer’s time.

Personalization is now gaining traction as a marketing strategy since customers’ expectations involve being introduced to products that they are interested in. This involves knowing the customer intimately and using their conversations in various channels, preferences and customer data to provide a personalized experience. You can expect a machine learning trend to leverage data collection and anticipate the customer’s needs which aid in producing an effortless experience.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will Take the Customer Service Industry by Storm

Although companies were introduced to the benefits of artificial intelligence in customer service last year, we can expect more entities to adopt this technology.

Machine learning is essential in creating a personalized experience, and AI can produce faster response times. Since digital communication channels are now the norm, AI can be used to accurately predict and answer a customer’s query on a digital channel like SMS, email and live chat.

This will increase efficiency since there will be no need for an agent to tag customer queries, search for answers and double check for spelling. All that a customer care agent will have to do is to approve the AI answers and perhaps add a touch of personalization to the chat. Having AI assist customer service agents will combine the efficiency of machines with the empathy of the agents for personalized and effortless customer experience.

Increased Investment in Data Analytic Tools

Companies continue to realize the importance of data analysis tools in providing a superior customer experience. These tools make it easier to predict customer needs and create a personalized approach to customer service.

Analytic tools also boost productivity such as speech analytics tools that can detect irrelevant information. Gartner, for instance, predicts that 50% of customer service agents’ interactions will be spurred by real-time analytics in 2018.

The Importance of the Mobile Phone Experience

Companies are now even more aware of the importance of mobile devices especially among millennials who use them to interact with various brands.

Mobile has become the de facto communication platform unlike in the past where the desktop was dominant. According to Statista, 52.2% of website traffic in 2018 emanated from mobile devices, a significant rise from 50.3% in the previous year. This will result in companies investing heavily in better mobile experience, and mobile phone experience will take center stage in 2018 as this trend accelerates.