Predictions: 10 Customer experience trends for 2020

CMO asks the experts about the customer experience trends heading towards marketers in 2020

These days, most marketers recognise customer experience (CX) is vital for a healthy, profitable brand. But while most marketers want to offer good CX, how best to go about it seems to be the sticking point.

“With consumers increasingly demanding companies become more transparent about data usage, marketers are being forced to develop improved creative marketing and content experiences," IAB Australia CEO, Gai le Roy, said.

"In 2020, this will advance considerably and we expect to see a new breed of companies that seamlessly deliver marketing, content and commerce experiences direct to consumers which will change people’s expectations of both product and marketing activities." 

CMO asks the experts about the customer experience trends heading at marketers in 2020.

1. NPS is superseded

Net Promoter Score (NPS) has been around for a while and is widely used as a customer satisfaction and experience marker. However, for Radaro co-founder and managing director, Brenton Gill, the problem with NPS is that the information is generally only captured from a highly engaged consumer.

“The intention of NPS has been to identify issues with brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, to gain legitimate feedback and to respectively improve upon this. However, it has become evident loyalty and satisfaction aren’t necessarily synonymous,"  he said. "With these assessments in mind, it’s possible to use customer satisfaction scores to improve sales and build on loyalty. But it’s vital to start at the frontline in order to do this.

“This has elicited a culture of ‘voice of customer’ ratings, which ultimately provide an overall satisfaction score without inconveniencing those rating the service."

As a result, Gill found NPS quickly losing its relevance as the primary indicator of customer satisfaction. "With the tides veering towards CX-centric evaluations, the necessity for ‘voice of customer’ review systems is simply dampening the demand for NPS," he said. 

According to Gill, the future of customer experience reporting seems to be set on a five-point scale. "Consumers are reluctant to assess an organisation as a whole and are more drawn to individual experience reviews, such as rating their encounter with the delivery of a specific item, or judging the performance of their chauffeur from bedroom to boardroom when late for work," he claimed. 

“Assessing isolated customer experiences, rather than requesting a vague overview of an organisation, is increasingly important as we put more weight on CX and its relation to brand advocacy." 

Managing partner at The Leading Edge, Lee Naylor, also said companies in 2020 will increasingly seek to understand more than just the digital/UX metrics as being CX, or just delving into pain points.

“Instead, they’ll look to build experiences that are the best versions of their brand and incorporate softer, more qualitative metrics,” he said. 

2. Dark patterns threat

In the drive to move the needle on CX, some marketers may be driven to dark patterns, or a pattern of behaviour prescribed to deliberately trick a consumer. According to Forrester, a quarter of companies will use dark patterns to drive consumer-hostile behaviours, and a recent Princeton study found over 10 per cent of top shopping sites use dark patterns.

“The adoption rate for dark patterns will surge for all commerce sites as CX and design professionals who feel increased pressure to optimise conversion rates try to copy the success of dark patterns in areas like mobile gaming," Forrester stated in a recent 2020 predictions report. "What’s more, social media platforms will increasingly employ dark patterns in an effort to win the fight for fragmented consumer attention, which will drive negative mental health implications for consumers."  

In response, the analyst firm sees technology companies offering even more 'digital diet' tools and 'deception blockers'.

"Expect more legislation like the proposed Detour and Smarts Acts, as well as a 16-point plan from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, that attempt to prevent the use of dark patterns,” Forrester said. 

3. We like big bots 

Forrester has also identified 2020 as the year of the bot, with 35 per cent of firms planning to invest in agent-facing bots to improve customer service.

“To move the needle on CX, CX professionals will focus on improving service experiences that drive loyalty, like interactions with customer service reps. CX pros will collaborate with IT and operations teams to simplify experience delivery by deploying 'agent whisperer' technologies that help employees find task-critical information,” Forrester stated.

But for Isentia head of insights NZ, Ngaire Crawford, 2020 is an important year for how customers respond to digital humans in the customer service experience.

“As companies start to move from chatbots to what should feel like a more authentic human interaction, it will be interesting to watch how audiences respond to them, and the impact this might have on how customers actually define and value a good customer experience,” she said. 

4. More human experiences

Of course, while digital technologies make it easier to navigate through busy lives, they can erode human connection, Deloitte pointed out.

“When digital connections - personal and - lack a human touch, people can feel isolated, underrepresented and unfulfilled. The rapid pace of digital change is adding to a build up of these unintended consequences, or experience debt," the consulting group said.

"To pay down this experience debt, organisations and their ecosystems should focus on elevating the human experience by aligning customers, the workforce, and partners to a common purpose.”

Forrester said consumers’ urge to restore meaning will create group-level digital personalisation. 

“Consumers’ intensifying desire to connect with others aligned with their identity will drive them into private social media groups anchored around specific values. This is digitally enabled group personalisation, where digital tools no longer make people feel like an undifferentiated mass,” Forrester said.

Founder of The Company We Keep, Nigel Ruffell, also highlighted sensory experiences getting closer to reality as part of the modern marketing approach.

"The outdoors can be brought inside, for example, with night sky ceilings, real plants, natural materials, like wooden beams and trellises. Elements that you can touch, hear and smell," he said. “The aim is to transport people from their everyday life and make them part of the world that you are trying to create. This ties in with the most important part - storytelling. People should be taken in by what the event means and why it’s there, and should feel an emotional response to the experience.” 

5. Brand purpose in the spotlight

Increasingly, consumers are demanding the brands they support in turn support social causes close to their hearts. This is being driven by the millennial consumer, but is not limited to this segment.

According to Forrester, a quarter of global firms will lose over 1 per cent of revenue by responding poorly to a social issue. And as the ranks of values-based consumers (VBCs) grow, they will wield more power to reward brands that take firm stands on controversial social issues and punish those that don’t.

As a consequence, companies in 2020 will be paying careful attention to authenticity, both in the values they choose to express and how they express them.

"CMOs will rally around customer value. To establish a successful ecosystem, CMOs will thread the needle between employee experience, customer experience, brand purpose, creative, and technology, imbuing all these crucial areas with customer obsession,” Forrester said.

Deloitte agreed, stating a clear purpose can be critical for organisations. “Businesses are using purpose to create deeper connections with consumers, doing more for the communities in which they work, attract and retain talent, and achieve greater results and impact in the process. Companies with high levels of purpose outperform the market by 5–7 per cent per year,” the consulting giant stated.

Landor's 2020 Report positioned sustainability no longer as a selling point, but a necessity in the New Year. The brand agency said businesses that fail to recognise this face an unforgiving public.

"For many businesses and sectors, this risk stretches to their licence to operate. From fast fashion retailers rethinking their business model, to bottled water companies reimagining the water bottle, many industries are reinventing in order to avoid extinction," the report stated.

"We are moving from the era of thought leadership to ‘do leadership’, where storytelling becomes ‘story doing’. Brands that fail to do, face becoming irrelevant. Consumers care about principles and say they will change their purchasing behaviour based on how a business acts."

Up next: Our next 5 customer experience predictions in 2020

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