Customer experience is one of the most relevant trends of the moment. Numerous studies —such as the one by B2B International— rank it as the preferred strategy for companies' marketing teams. Like all booming systems, it is constantly evolving and organisations must start to consider what the customer experience of the future will be like and what they must do to avoid being late to CX's new era.
In recent years many companies have started to invest in tools and technologies that help them to better understand their customers, with a special focus on customer experience. According to a recent report by B2B International, customer experience is already the number one marketing trend.
We may know where we are, but do we know where we are going? In business, thinking about the future is as important as thinking about the present.
In the business world everything changes very fast and some organisations are already going a step further by starting to invest in the customer experience of the future or, rather, in what appear to be the most important trends in customer experience for the coming years.
Who will be the first to arrive?
Some leading companies are moving towards a new approach to customer experience that focuses on making the most of customer data from all data collection systems and business perspectives (financial, operational, marketing, sales, etc.); as well as investing in predictive analytics technologies to anticipate customer behaviours and needs, create deeper relationships and identify issues and opportunities in real time.
Not only do these companies gain a better understanding of their customers' behaviour —on each interaction— but they can also solve customer journey problems before they happen and have negative consequences for both consumers and the company.
In this sense, the step being taken by leading CX companies points to a fundamental shift in the way companies evaluate and shape their customer experiences, putting the present aside and focusing their efforts on tomorrow.
What will the customer experience (CX) of the future be like?
According to McKinsey, one of the world's leading technology consultancies, the customer experience systems and technologies of the future will be holistic, predictive, accurate and closely linked to business results: "Evidence suggests that the advantages will be substantial for companies that start building the capabilities, talent, and organizational structure needed for this transition. Those that stick with the traditional systems will be forced to play catch-up in the years to come."
At the same time, it is essential to be patient and bear in mind that changes are not immediate and require time for adaptation. Companies that have just started to develop strategies or plans to improve the customer experience are likely to face obstacles and members of the organisation who are reluctant to commit to change. However, even companies with the most rudimentary CX systems and very few customer data or technical staff specialised in data science can transform the way they do business by becoming customer-centric and optimising the customer experience.
Defragmenting silos: Customer-level data repository
Data analytics is without a doubt the key to the future of customer experience. Nowadays, corporations have access to a wealth of data sets —both internal and external— that they can leverage to create multi-dimensional profiles of their customers, bringing together information from all business departments into a single data repository that will serve the entire organisation.
In the post "What Can a Single Customer View Do for Companies?" we already mentioned that having a separate data warehouse for each customer profile is another of the growing initiatives in terms of customer strategy.
If companies can overcome the fragmentation of silos through a data warehouse containing all customer-related information, they will be able to paint a much truer picture of who their customers are and how they behave. In CX, organisations will be able to explore in detail all stages of the customer journey for each customer profile and quickly identify opportunities, gaps and areas for improvement in the customer experience.
According to McKinsey, customer-level data repositories: "Serve as the foundation for developing a rigorous understanding of customer experiences. The platform should be reliable throughout the organization, with clear and consistent mapping across all data sources and unique identifiers for customers, product lines, and other critical business input."
Tomorrow before today: Predictive analytics in customer experience
The application of machine learning algorithms for predictive analytics can also be applied to customer experience, tracking and studying how different customer experience factors influence customer satisfaction and business outcomes.
Some organisations have already started to use predictive analytics to identify problems, opportunities, areas for improvement and patterns in the customer journey. By obtaining a clear and comprehensive representation of how the CX works for each type of customer, this technology can predict future trends through pattern recognition.
This type of algorithm generates predictive ratings for each customer based on the characteristics of their customer journey. These ratings allow companies to predict the satisfaction of each of their customers on an individual level and relate it to the likelihood of loyalty, revenue generated, service-related costs, etc.
In other words, customer experience managers have the ability to calculate the return on investment in CX and to link CX strategies and actions directly to business outcomes through an accurate and quantified view of the factors that drive customer experience and business performance. With all this, the ability to design customer experiences of substantial value is enhanced through a wide range of performance management, strategic planning and real-time customer engagement monitoring applications. Predictive customer experience platforms enable a better measurement and management of the customer experience performance and optimise the decision making process.
On the other hand, it is essential that the information and knowledge generated through predictive tools is shared and available to the entire company —all departments and levels— through an API. This way, customer experience managers can even receive alerts when valuable insights or notes on how to improve and personalise the customer experience are identified.
The most important thing is that such systems work in real time, allowing CX managers to act fast and quickly adapt to change.
In recent years, customer experience has not only become one of the most important strategies for companies, but the methods for designing, optimising, monitoring and quantifying the value of CX have also become increasingly sophisticated.
The world's leading consultancy firms predict an increase in the importance of predictive analytics in the creation of customer experience strategies. Furthermore, the relevance of data and single customer data repositories will only expand in the coming years.
Do you want to make your company customer-centric? Do you need help to improve the customer experience? Just ask us!