It's the time of the year again when customer experience leaders everywhere are planning their strategies for 2016. Separating their organizations from their competition is no longer about price; instead it's about providing experiences that are in tune with customers' needs.
As leaders analyze their objectives for 2016, here are five key customer experience trends to focus on.
Apply Context in Every Engagement
The social web, the always-on nature of mobile, and organizations' sophisticated analysis of Big Data are putting context in motion. Companies that use context in their engagement strategies respond to consumers' need to interact with brands that are aware of their context, location, history, and intent and engage them effortlessly across a variety of devices.
Knowing customers' context is important for many reasons, but one is that context leads to real-time personalization. Without context, companies create a higher path of resistance to the sale. As a recent study shows, the majority of respondents expect real-time personalization to improve customer experiences, increase lead generation and customer acquisition, increase conversion rates, and improve brand perception.
Context will enable organizations to seize the moment in very personalized ways throughout customers' journeys and drive them toward the products geared toward their specific needs.
Create Unlikely Partnerships that Better the Customer Experience
From Home Depot and the Weather Channel to Starbucks and Lyft, in 2015, many companies proved that opposites do attract. We saw that business partnerships among the most unlikely participants can prove lucrative if given a chance. We saw a wide range of companies build robust partner ecosystems last year and expect the same to continue this year.
There are many benefits of striking alliances and partnerships such as increased capital, shared decision-making, and adding convenience for customers. Nest and August Smart Lock, for instance, partnered so customers could pair them automatically so that unlocking or locking their doors kicks their thermostats into either Home or Away mode.
Rethink Employee Engagement
2015 was the year of employee engagement. Conversations about engagement, culture, and development persisted. I believe we'll see even more conversations happening in 2016 largely around employee wellness, however I also think the conversation around engagement and training needs to shift.
According to Brady G. Wilson, author of Beyond Engagement: A Brain-Based Approach That Blends the Engagement Managers Want with the Energy Employees Need, organizations should flip their employee engagement practices. Instead of focusing on driving productivity, they should concentrate their efforts energizing employees.
"If employees can feel energized and they feel their work is meaningful, that's what will deliver unforgettable customer experiences," Wilson said in this blog. One way to energize employees is by having quality conversations which builds trust with them, Wilson said.
Continuously Evolve Your Data Security Measures
The past two years were record-breaking in terms of cyber crime. New opportunities like the cloud bring with them new types of attacks. It's no longer enough to meet and rely on the standard security standards to protect customers' data. Companies security programs must be constantly evolving to include new processes, new POS systems, and security layers. From multi-factor authentication methods to biometric identification techniques, adding stronger security measures is essential as our paths to purchase become increasingly complicated.
Give Customers Control
Today's consumers want their own terms, their own prices, and on their own content all without asking. Portugal Telecom responded to its customers' need for control when it started offering a personalized broadcast platform, which allows customers to build and broadcast their own TV channel, which they can easily share with friends and family.
The Gartner & 1to1 Media Customer Experience Excellence winner's director of technology said the thinking behind the platform was to give a TV channel to each customer and bring them a new way of TV viewing. By putting content creation in the customers' hands, Portual Telecom sought to reinvent the television experience while creating brand awareness.
What are your 2016 must-have priorities around how to elevate the customer experience?