As 2015 approaches, it’s time to look ahead to the coming predictions and trends that will help shape companies’ customer experiences and give them a leg up over the competition.
I predict continued advances in technology and the growing need for companies to meet the expectations of the connected consumer. Big Data, omnichannel enablement, mobile advances and data protection will continue to dominate companies’ customer experience investments and help fulfill customers’ needs. Here are four of the biggest trends we’ll see in 2015:
1. Big Data Fulfills Its Promise
Big Data is making its way to the customer experience as more companies incorporate business intelligence and data analytics into their business strategies. The original promise of Big Data was that companies would be able to get insights into the identity of their customers and their individual preferences so as to better engage them. But, the data is often trapped within separate systems or it’s incompatible with data from other departments.
As a remedy, more vendors are rolling out analytics solutions that integrate into multiple platforms, as well as using machine-based learning and predictive models to derive more insights from their customer data. One of the ways this may impact customers is by enabling companies to send more relevant messages. For example, if a consumer is in the market for a new vehicle, instead of continuing to bombard him with ads for the same car even after it has been purchased, more automotive companies are instead delivering ads for maintenance service or items that complement the particular vehicle.
2. Omnichannel Brings Seamless Connections to Life
Omnichannel strategies have moved past the hype. A growing number of companies are recognizing the importance of delivering a seamless experience to customers across channels. However, few companies have implemented an omnichannel approach to their business operations because it’s very difficult to connect channels that were created independently of each other. But tracking technology, such as third-party cookies or anonymous identifiers, makes it easier to share customer records between departments and provide that elusive seamless experience from channel to channel.
For example, when a customer searches a brand’s website and then calls the customer service department or uses live chat, tracking cookies can tie the customer’s behavior on the website to a CRM system. And, if the associate were to connect the customer with a sales associate, the associate would already have the relevant records so the customer would not have to repeat any information.
3. Mobile Innovations Provide Convenience
Mobile technology has become ubiquitous. Local mobile searches are expected to exceed desktop searches for the first time in 2015, according to eMarketer. For many people, smartphones and tablets are their primary tools for accessing digital information and services. As a result, a trend that we can expect to see is more innovation around mobile payments and geofencing.
Through geofencing technology, companies are already experimenting with the ability to alert auto sales associates of high-value customers who walk into a dealership. Based on the customer’s search behavior on the brand’s website or app, the associate can immediately show the customer the car of interest. And, if the customer decides to purchase the car on a later date, the paperwork can be completed via a smartphone without ever having to walk back into the dealership.
4. Data Protection Gets Tougher
Data breaches are a common occurrence today, and they’re likely to continue next year as well. CIOs are starting to fight back. The National Association of State CIOs named cybersecurity as their top priority for 2015 and set their sights on areas like risk assessment and governance. Additionally, CIOs say that they’re aiming to protect against insider threats and tighten up their monitoring of the third parties who are handling increasingly vital processes at a time of increased outsourcing.
As criminals target the data systems of retailers, financial service companies, and even the USPS, data protection will become a differentiating factor for businesses. On a similar vein, customers are becoming savvier about the value of their data and are asking for more in return for sharing their personal information with businesses.
Innovation Is the Future
Consumer behavior continues to evolve and so does the way companies are meeting their customers’ digital changes. Rather than allow themselves to get overwhelmed by these technological advances, companies should approach them as opportunities to better understand their customers and drive increased marketing revenue and customer engagement.
While there’s no one clear prediction available for the customer experience in 2015, one thing is for sure: The future holds a growing number of powerful and innovative digital creations to advance the way consumers and companies interact with each other in the coming years.
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