Is your brand ready for CX in 2024? Probably not, writes Chris Barnes, customer experience officer at digital agency AmazeRealise.
Customer expectations soar ever-higher with each passing year – but many of our customer experiences (CX) are still broken by a lack of focus and motivation to change.
At AmazeRealise, we recently carried out research that found that 36pc of chief marketing officers admit their brand hasn’t invested in CX at all. Around one in five (22pc) said the lack of investment in CX came from organisational blockers and team structure, and 11pc blamed a lack of C-suite support and senior buy-in.
Think ahead five years. What will the customer of 2024 be like? What will their expectations be then? Is this lack of investment going to come back to bite companies? Absolutely.
Imagine a world where you need to deliver a brilliant customer experience, day or night. Immediate responses. The ability to self-serve. The demand to delight. Think of 5G. How will that have an impact? What role will newly achievable AI or VR play? 4G brought disruptors such as Deliveroo and Uber. 5G could bring a next generation who make their predecessors look like dinosaurs.
While you’re sleeping, competitors will be stealing your business. So it’s worth examining what the CX environment will look like and how brands can start to prepare. Counterintuitively, the CX of the future doesn’t start with the customer, it starts with your business and a focus on four main internal improvements.
1. Know your place
By 2024, our day-to-day experiences will be led by a select few consumer-facing brand names – ‘hidden partners’ with massive influence. Every time your new digital food processor has the sauce ready for you, Mark Zuckerberg has gained another data point.
It sounds like an episode of Black Mirror, but our daily lives are already entwined with platforms such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. Thousands of retailers currently trade through Amazon’s customer interface and our news is delivered by social feeds. If Facebook has its way, even currency will be under the control of the hidden partners.
While consumer facing brands will continue to develop ever deeper relationships with their customers, the likelihood is that they won’t own or build all of the technology enabling them to do so.
The brands of 2024 will need to ask whether to partner or replicate to keep up. Some will want to bring disruptors on board as a ‘plug and play’ solution to meet new customer expectations, while others may be better off simply adapting their existing service.
2. Don’t forget the human touch
The last decade has seen plenty of change, with smartphones, tablets, social media and widespread wireless leading to truly connected customers. If anything, that pace of change will be speeding up in the next 10 years.
But while the technology does the hard work of automating repetitive tasks and removing friction, there’s still a big role for humans.
‘In the end, good CX is about understanding humans’
– CHRIS BARNES
Data demands insight to analyse the why of a particular touchpoint rather than just the how. Does an AI tool understand what approach matches the values of the business, or just what makes for greater revenue?
In some situations we’ll still demand to talk to humans. And it will be those humans who can make the difference to a great customer experience. That’s why CX starts with you. Successful brands of the future will need empowered frontline staff with the right training and empathy to make on-the-spot decisions to improve the customer journey in key moments of truth.
3. Work as a team
Another reason CX doesn’t start with the customer is because internal teams are often set up to deliver a broken customer experience. They work to ensure the team is succeeding and hitting KPIs. And there’s a budget to implement their changes, regardless of the needs of other teams looking after others parts of the customer journey.
If the customer isn’t integral to their part of the journey, they get ignored. Collaboration should be a priority and a collective goal, but it isn’t.
By 2024, CX will need to be tied into overall business KPIs so people can see the value in it and the difference it makes to the bottom line. The siloed approach of old just won’t cut it any more. CX starts with you.
4. Don’t ignore the issue
When it comes to CX, future-proofing means starting with your business and getting the right environment to enable collaboration, flexibility and continuous improvement. New entrants are snapping at heels while established players are needing to up their game. To avoid being crunched in the middle there’s a necessity to evolve.
Successful businesses will be those that never forget that, in the end, good CX is about understanding humans – those that work for them and those they are trying to reach – and their day-to-day lives, not just implementing advanced technology.
By Chris Barnes
Chris Barnes is customer experience officer at digital agency AmazeRealise. He has 12 years’ experience in the field of user experience and has worked across a variety of sectors over the course of his career.