The New Year is just around the corner and all of us who are interested in customer experience would like to know what is in store. Here are our predictions for what is likely to happen to customer experience programs in 2019.
1. There will be greater awareness and more adoption of customer experience programs
Customer experience is on a roll. Google Trends tells us that the search term "customer experience" has increased threefold over the last five years. (We should point out that the search term peaked in 2017). The rapidly growing interest in customer experience is linked to customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction has always been recognised as a vital goal. Customer experience is the means by which customer satisfaction can be achieved. Businesses, the general public – everyone – have high expectations of service, speed and customer experience. As more companies become aware that improved customer experience will deliver great customer satisfaction, we can expect to see more good stuff happening.
2. There will be reduced budgets for some customer experience programs
A good deal of what happens in 2019 depends on the economy. After 9 to 10 years of booming share prices and economic growth, there is sure to be a dip soon. Trade wars, national protectionism and Brexit could trigger a downturn. When this happens company bosses will jump on anything that can yield quick savings. Customer experience is an easy target. CEOs with only a lukewarm commitment to customer satisfaction will see this as a soft target for saving money in the short term.
3. There will be a greater emphasis on digital platforms
There will be a continued move to improving digital experiences. Following the prediction that money will be tighter in 2019, we expect that there will be further developments in low cost ways of improving customer satisfaction. Digital platforms speed up responses and enable automatic replies. They are not expensive to install and have low running costs. As a result they are sure to attract further investment. This is part of the omnichannel trend in which companies extend their customer experience programs to cover all customer engagements whether face-to-face, telephone, or online.
4. There will be more dipstick research leading to lower strike rates
It is so easy to check on customer satisfaction. We have long felt that we are being subjected to an overdose of customer satisfaction surveys. Some companies want to know how they performed after any and all customer interactions. A customer hardly has to nod towards a supplier before they are asked to rate their experience on a scale from 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. Low-cost survey platforms such as SurveyMonkey will continue to grow. Unfortunately proliferation of surveys will harden people’s views on customer satisfaction surveys and we can envisage that strike rates (the proportion of people who complete surveys) will continue to fall.
5. There will be a greater emphasis on "why?" and "how?"
There is recognition that customer experiences take place over the whole customer journey. It isn’t something that happens only when a financial transaction takes place. Managers begin by wanting to know what is happening at these various points on the customer journey. This leads to a focus on measurements such as net promoter scores and customer satisfaction scores. Soon this is not enough and more questions are raised such as "why do we have these scores?" and "how can we improve?". Inevitably this leads to more companies employing customer experience specialists to manage their programs.
Keeping customers happy has always been the principal aim of businesses. How we keep them happy is something that has changed over the years. The customer experience isn’t just the responsibility of customer facing teams; it is borne by everyone in a company. Almost certainly there will be some belt tightening by companies in 2019 but customer experience programs are here to stay and we will see more of them. They will adjust to meet the changing economic conditions.