customer experience trends 2020

The Future of CX: 14 Customer Experience Trends for 2020 (And Beyond)

The customer experience (CX) in the digital era is constantly evolving.

At some point, the goal is not to follow the current trends but to understand what trends you need to follow in the future.

But how do you do that? Not everybody has a crystal ball just lying around.

No need to worry, we’ve done all the research for you. In this article, we will go over the 14 customer experience trends to follow in 2020 (and beyond).

The state of customer experiences in 2019

There’s been a lot of kings lately, haven’t there? Content is king. Customer is king. Product is king.

But there’s one king to rule them all in 2020: customer experiences.

It’s true: consumers nowadays buy experiences, not products. The fact that the landscape has not changed that drastically, and the big players of yesteryear are still as big as ever, shows that they understand this.

Even with all other aspects equal to or worse than your competition, the focus on CX can give you a leg to stand on — and stand apart. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and all that.

(Seriously, what is it with kings?)

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Here are the biggest trends to watch out for in 2020 (and beyond).

1. The rise of self-service and self-help

A report by Nuance enterprise found that 75% of customers prefer self-help to resolve their issues, and 67% of consumers prefer it to agent support.

The reason why self-service is on the rise is because we as humans like to feel in control of our decisions. We almost invariably know what we want and what problems we face.

Even now, most call centers leverage tools like FAQs and knowledge bases to answer the questions of their customers. Moreover, self-registration kiosks become a force to be reckoned with.

It’s a win-win for everyone, as self-service not only raises customer satisfaction but also alleviates a lot of pain points for customer-facing employees.

Read more: Helping Customers Help Themselves: The Benefits of Self-Service

2. Transparency in customer service

Paraphrasing someone much smarter than me, you might fool one customer for a long time and you can fool a lot of customers for a short time, but you cannot fool a lot of customers for a long time.

Look, customers are much savvier than before. They are on the constant lookout for red flags, and they feel much more confident using products when they know your business practices are ethical and your vision complies with theirs.

Therefore, transparency will be an important customer experience factor in 2020.

You don’t need to go the extra mile like Buffer, who regularly break down their travel expenses, salaries, workforce distribution, etc. We live in a world of informational oversaturation, and adding to the noise unnecessarily is not the answer.

One example that we never get tired of pointing out is wait times. There is a benefit to being transparent with them, as well.

Once a visitor knows how much they need to wait, the queuing stops being as frustrating. The same principle applies to all the other aspects: don’t keep your customers in the dark, or else they’ll fly to the nearest light source that they see — your more transparent competitors.

Read more: The Cost of Queues: How Improper Queue Management Affects Your Bottom Line

qminder holiday campaign

3. Balancing out humanity and automation

We’ve gone a long way since the early days of artificial intelligence — from getting paranoid about HAL from Space Odyssey 2001, to getting accustomed to Siri, to growing even more paranoid than before about the robot takeover.

Automation is the frothiest job-related topic right now: a savior for some, and one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse for the others.

Many companies nowadays use artificial intelligence to fill the gaps. For example, bots are integrated with communication channels and free up the time for customer managers by taking over the more menial tasks.

In fact, IBM predicts that 85% of all customer interactions in 2020 will be handled without a human agent.

It is more realistic that in the future, AI will handle the more technical and mechanical aspects of service, while human support agents will take care of putting a smile on the customer’s face.

Read more: Customer Service – To Automate, or Not to Automate, That Is the Question

4. Hyper-personalized experiences

Delivering a blanket, one-size-fits-all answer to every customer will be a no-go in 2020. Hell, it’s a no-go in 2019, too.

According to Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company that knows their name and recommends them products based on their purchase history.

We’re in the “also recommended” era of customer service: from Amazon analyzing your recent purchases, to Netflix gently pushing you to watch TV shows similar to the one you’ve just finished.

You can’t really err on the side other than the side of over-personalizing things: 74% of customers already get irritated when website content isn’t tailored to their needs and taste. By 2020, 76% of business buyers expect customer service to know who they are.

A few thousand years since the start of civilization, and nothing still beats a firm handshake and using another person’s name.

Read more: The Power of Using Customer Names

5. Data privacy and cybersecurity

The protection of data is another — and perhaps more important — side of the data-collection coin. What good is hoarding all this informational treasure if you don’t even dig an alligator-infested moat around your castle?

We’ve all heard stories of data breaches in all sorts of industries: from extramarital dating apps to healthcare databases. Whatever the industry, the outcome is the same — complete erosion of trust in the company.

Even over a year after a brand’s data breach, more than 50% of consumers will still hold a negative view of the brand.

And when there’s one dissatisfied customer, there bound to be more. Reviews, social media posts or even good ol’ traditional kitchen talks are not something you can nip in the bud once data leaks happen.

Having a superior data privacy structure will be a deciding CX factor in 2020 and beyond.

Read more: Cybersecurity Boost Customer Loyalty and Sales

6. Employee experience influences CX

EX is the ABC of CX.

Confused? Good. Let me start over.

Employee experience is a concept that is closely related to customer experience. Only instead of making life easier for customers, you do so for your team.

Why? Because empowered staff positively impacts the perception of your brand in your customers’ eyes:

  • 85% of promoters say staff were empowered to help them (29% of detractors say the same)
  • 83% of promoters are happy with knowledgeable staff (55% of detractors say the same)

In other words, the extent to which you care for your people is the extent to which they will care for your customers and each other. That’s why investing in employee experience pays off.

The Temkin Group found out that the organizations who earned “good” and “very good” employee engagement ratings are also more likely to be regarded as the leaders in CX.

Read more: A Beginner’s Guide to Employee Experience

7. Soft skills are the new hard skills

Will the year of our Lord 2020 finally be the year we stop using the term “soft skills”? Let’s hope so.

If you don’t know what soft skills are, they are anything that helps you on an interpersonal level:

  • Listening and negotiation skills
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Persuasion
  • Creativity
  • Resourcefulness, etc.

Soft skills are what makes or breaks customer experiences, and they help show empathy to your customers. The issues with calling these skills “soft” is that it greatly undervalues their importance.

This applies to companies at large, as well. Teamwork and the ability to collaborate are an integral part of making employee experiences top-notch.

Without these so-called soft skills, the meticulously erected card house that is your company is only one gust of wind away from being scattered.

Read more: Why You Should Listen to Your Customers (And Why You Shouldn’t)

8. Inclusive design

Why soft skills, and listening in particular, are so vital to have is that people want to be heard. People want to not only connect, but connect in meaningful ways.

Build connection and trust with your customers by empowering them to share their feedback with you and developing a framework for acting on that feedback.

Today’s customer base is increasingly diverse — in terms of race, culture, nationality, language, sexual identity, disabilities, etc. Starting from 2020, companies would need to give everyone a chance to have their voice heard.

Despite the obvious fears, this will result not in cacophony but a beautiful jazz melody where all elements support and strengthen each other.

In the words of General Mills Chief HR Officer Jacqueline Williams-Roll:

“We spend a lot of time with our consumers asking them what they would like, not necessarily what they want, but what needs are unmet.”

Instead of putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, why not design shoes based on their unique input?

Read more: Customer Feedback as a Way to Great Customer Experience

9. Smart stores

The focus on one-of-a-kind experiences demands a one-of-a-kind experiential approach.

In 2020, businesses will leverage immersive VR technologies to augment their design thinking and customers experiences.

Take Puma’s new NYC flagship store which blends art and technology: it’s part installation, part sci-fi convention. For example, shoppers can test the latest shoes in the in-store soccer simulator, or test out their skills in an F1 racing simulator.

This is not the only such unique store in New York (yeah, that’s a paradox, I know). Many global brands nowadays employ interactive visual displays, augmented reality solutions, and immersive VR.

It all serves to enrich the customer experience. But, same as with automation, you need not forget human interaction.

It’s tempting to leave customers to their own devices (colloquially speaking), but without a human touch, you offer an incomplete experience.

No simulation on this planet will substitute a friendly and professional meeter-greeter.

Read more: 5 Reasons Why Your Customers Leave for Competitors

10. Instant gratification

Moms all around the world try to teach their kids the virtue of patience, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. Even well into our adulthood, we expect things to be near-instantaneous.

Immediate actions and super-fast delivery are the name of the game in today’s world. Shaving off even a few seconds of wait gives you an edge over competitors.

Why? Because we’re hard-wired to hate waiting in lines.

What unites most customers around the world is aversion to being inconvenienced. Wait

Going forward, speedy resolution of issues and delivery of experiences will be one of the biggest differentiators between service providers.

Read more: Long Waiting Times Cost You Sales

11. Customer-centricity

That bit about moms and kids in the previous section? There’s another thing we retain from our childhood — the what-about-me factor.

Don’t deny it: most of us like feeling unique and being catered to. Whenever we’re left out or feel like we’re left out, we experience a complex and unhealthy cocktail of anger, bitterness, anxiety and jealousy.

That’s why companies need to ensure a customer-centric approach to customers.

While at a more granular level it means that companies will care about you specifically, the larger picture that’s being painted here is that every customer counts.

Or no customer left behind, if you will.

Read more: What It Means to Be Customer-Centric

12. Omnichannel customer experiences

This is not a trend that is exclusive to 2020. Indeed, omnichannel marketing and communication has enjoyed increasingly bigger attention from companies in the recent years.

In the near future, companies will completely switch over from multi-channel CX strategies to an omnichannel strategy. 87% of retail service providers see omnichannel experience as critical for their brand’s success.

Our focus on the Internet of Things will ensure richer interconnectedness. Personalized interactions at every touchpoint, but done so in a cohesive, consistent and — not in the least part — scalable manner.

Read more: Mastering Customer Loyalty in the Digital Era

13. Measuring customer experiences

The main takeaway from our increasingly analytics-oriented age is that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Customer experiences are no exception.

Going forward, companies will start putting a bigger emphasis on measuring the level of customer satisfaction. The main key performance indicators in CX are:

  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score)
  • NPS (Net Promoter Score)
  • CES (Customer Effort Score)

The list can include other industry-specific metrics. For an app, that might be DAU/MAU (daily/monthly active users), which doesn’t directly reflect customer experience scores but help understand whether the new CX direction is the right one.

Read more: Customer Satisfaction Metrics You Need to Be Tracking

14. Preemptive and proactive service strategies

This may sound like some Minority Report stuff, but the upside of measuring customer data is that you can provide services preemptively.

Switching from a multi-channel to omnichannel approach means a bigger emphasis on tracking customer needs. Understanding these needs better and more accurately leads to having the ability — and opportunities — to satisfy them even before the engagement.

The result? Creating the kind of experiences that delight your clients and drive customer loyalty.

At the risk of annoying you with the same bloody examples — hey, write what you know, right? — you can even use data from queue management system to accurately capture the reason for visit and the intent of your visitors.

This information comes handy when you want to understand what drives people to your business.

Read more: Using Queue Management System for Sales and Data

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The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the best time to prepare for the future is now. Enter the year 2020 fully prepared and well-equipped.

If you’re yet to discover the wonders of virtual queue management, we’ve got just the solution. right now to experience the world of great customer service.

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