Happy New Year and welcome to a whole new decade. Though the Sci-Fi writers of the past might have predicted we would all be in flying cars by now with our robot servants and living on Mars, the reality is that technology hasn’t perhaps gone as far as many had predicted. One area that has evolved massively over the last decade though is customer experience.

The expectations of today’s consumer compared to a decade ago is massively different and is only going to continue to evolve through the next 10 years. So how has customer experience changed and what can we expect to see happen over the next few years? We dust off our DeLorean and take a look at the past and the future of CX.

A Look Back

A decade ago the factors that went in to making a purchase decision were quite different from what we see now, and a customer journey was a much easier path to follow. Adverts and direct mail were still main drivers and brands could rely on customer loyalty because the hassle and time it took to switch was harder and more time consuming than it is today.

Todays consumers have comparison sites for just about everything and simple 24/7 tools available. A decade ago this just simply wasn’t the case. If you wanted to change a provider, chances are you would have to do quite a bit of work to gather prices and then go through a difficult and time-consuming process.

The vast majority of customer service was delivered via phone or possibly emails with today’s multi-channel, instant resolution being a pipe dream. The power of social media has led to brands no longer being able to hide away from disgruntled customers  and companies that have not embraced a customer centric culture have been left behind.

A decade ago companies competed on price and on brand name. Todays consumer is all about the experience. Companies need to connect with their customers and make them feel valued. Compared to a decade ago, companies now have so much more data available on their customers which enables them to make more personalised experiences.

A Look To The Future

B2B companies were recently asked (via the Digital Trends Report) to state the single most exciting opportunity for 2020 with Customer Experience beating content marketing, social and more to top the list.

More and more research is showing that investing in Customer Experience delivers revenue growth. 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience and this is only going to increase over the coming years. Consumers want innovative, engaging brands and you can see emerging companies disrupt in areas by putting the customer at the core of their strategy. In the energy sector, companies like Bulb are offering a real alternative to the big energy companies by understanding what is important to todays customers. A slick, simple online process with a brand that gets todays climate concerned consumer. No complicated variable tariffs, no exit fees to worry about, just simple and fast which has led to growth of over 1.5 million customers in just over 2 years.

Over the next decade multi-channel service will become even more important with customers expecting companies to offer a consistent experience. Customer tolerance to frustration is also only going to drop further with companies being expected to offer pain free customer journeys. Companies need to closely monitor all customer touchpoints to identify and improve pain points to reduce customer churn.

Self-service has become more and more popular over the last few years and will continue to grow as a preference for consumers. By 2030, Gartner estimates that a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customer-owned bots. Chatbots are becoming more popular as a way for consumers to get the answers they want quickly and easily and as a way to provide feedback in a more engaging and interactive interface.

There will no doubt be some interesting developments around virtual and augmented reality along with other new technology over the coming years. How this will affect customer experience remains to be seen. Technology needs to serve a purpose for the customer and so if tech can make an experience easier and better then it is much more likely to have staying power.

Conclusion

Customer experience is now the main area all companies are competing on and the next decade will show this become even more important. Companies that do not invest in CX will be left behind, while companies that innovate and invest will see the return on their investment with more loyal customers and faster growth.

Connecting your customer data and touch points will be essential so integrating different solutions via CRMs and APIs will be a priority. Companies also need to ensure smooth workflows between automated chatbots and customer support agents to deliver seamless experiences and offer rapid resolution.

The next decade will no doubt see further evolution with more automation, more personalisation and even more demanding customers but this also just creates opportunities for brands to connect more deeply and offer even better experiences. So, if we do finally get a company selling flying cars by 2030 let’s hope they put the customer experience at the heart of their strategy.