Here are a half-dozen of my own predictions for 2020.
It’s that time of year when industry experts predict what’s coming in the year ahead. I’ve seen some interesting ideas from some of my fellow Forbes contributors. I don’t want to be left out, so here are a half-dozen of my own predictions for 2020:
1. Customers Will Be Smarter Next Year
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, as I have shared this one for the past several years, but the trend continues in this direction and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Customers’ expectations for service and CX are set by the best brands. They don’t compare businesses only to their direct competitors, but to the best service they have received from anyone, anywhere. The gap between what the customers expect and what they actually get is widening for some companies.
2. Customers Will Walk Away Faster
As customers get smarter, they are also getting more frustrated. When they have a bad service experience, they are quicker than ever to walk away. As mentioned in the first prediction, they are smarter about customer service and, as a result, are willing to find the companies and brands that meet – or exceed – their expectations. A recent study by Gladly shows that 84% of customers will switch to a competitor after three poor customer experiences, and 17% will switch after just one poor experience. Don’t be one of the companies that lose customers due to poor service!
3. Smart Speakers Will Become Smarter and Customers Will Use Them More
People are learning the convenience of saying, “Alexa, please order me a pizza,” instead of dialing a number and talking to a human being to place their order. That’s so old-school! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways that “Smart Speakers” are going to make our lives more convenient. They can provide up-to-the-minute news, set a wake-up call, turn the lights on and off, remind a patient to take medicine and much more. As smart speakers become smarter, they make us smarter, too.
4. Omni-Channel Will Become More Omnipresent
Let’s get a little technical. Omni-channel is another way of saying multi-channel, as in multiple ways – convenient ways – for a customer to connect with a company and vice-versa. When a customer wants to connect with a company, he or she will reach for the method of communication that is closest and most convenient. It could be an app on a smartphone, emailing, texting, messaging, social media and more – even the traditional phone. While the phone is still a viable method of communication, it is a little less prevalent than in the past and that trend will continue. In fact, The Northridge Group’s “State of Customer Service Experience 2019” report indicates that while the phone is still the most frequently used channel of communication, the preference for digital channels, such as online chat and email, is increasing. Alternative ways to communicate – multiple ways – will become more normal than ever.
5. AI Customer Support Will Get Better – Especially When It Doesn’t Support The Customer
Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to be a hot topic. In the customer support world, it fuels self-service in the form of IVRs and chatbots interacting with – and sometimes frustrating – the customer. That said, AI will get better. It will understand language better – one of the most powerful uses of AI support – which will help the customer support agent instead of the customer. If the agent knows how to communicate with the “machine,” it can provide them with the right answer for the customer’s question or problem. AI can also give the agent relevant information about the customer’s past purchases, prior support calls, buying behaviors and more. In short, AI-based customer support gets better when AI supports the agents, not the customers.
6. Convenience Takes CX to Another Level
Fourteen months ago, I wrote a book titled The Convenience Revolution. I knew that convenience was important. The easier-to-do-business-with companies have been disrupting competitors and, in some cases, total industries. More and more companies are recognizing the power of convenience to drive repeat business and even customer loyalty. Next year, more companies and brands will find ways to create an easier experience. This is good news for customers!