This article, “Foresight 2020: CX Trends and Predictions,” was originally published by MarTech Advisor on November 1, 2019.
As co-founder and CEO of Squelch, I’ve gotten to know leaders from across the customer experience industry — from world-class analysts to visionary founders of professional organizations and fellow CEOs of the support and success platforms that make top-notch CX possible. I’ve also talked with countless agents, managers, and executives who are engaging with customers on the front lines every day.
With 2019 quickly coming to a close, I find myself reflecting more and more on the conversations I’ve had with all of these folks about where the industry is heading. Informed by those insights, here are my top CX predictions for 2020 and beyond.
Increased Demand for Personalized Experiences
In an age when we can create emojis that match our appearance and have custom-made clothing delivered directly to our door, it should come as no surprise that customers increasingly expect experiences to be tailored to their individual preferences.
To meet these expectations in 2020, I expect businesses to continue collecting as much customer information as they can in order to enhance the personalization of every aspect of the customer journey — from the product itself to marketing, sales, and customer support.
In order to be successful with personalization, it will be more essential than ever for companies to have a solid data strategy in place that promotes knowledge sharing within the organization while also maintaining privacy and security.
What to watch: How trends in privacy and security intersect with data collection and personalization. What will customers consider to be the “sweet spot”?
Smart Implementation of Self-Service
When a customer has a simple question or request, such as the balance of their bill or how to reset their password, they want the freedom and flexibility to handle it on their own. In 2020, I expect businesses to continue adding more self-service options to websites and apps, recognizing that sometimes the best customer service is simply to get out of the customer’s way.
Companies must also bear in mind, however, that there will be times when a customer issue is too complex to be solved with a self-service option. In these instances, it will be crucial to provide a seamless transition to a human support representative.
In particular, if a customer begins a self-service query and ends up needing to contact an agent, the agent should have immediate visibility into both the problem and the actions the customer has already taken to try to solve it.
What to watch: How “handoff” increasingly becomes less a game of hot potato and instead a proactive and frictionless transfer that serves the customer’s needs.
Continued Application and Acceptance of AI
The average person has been hearing about artificial intelligence in one form or another for decades now, but I predict that 2020 will bring a noticeable improvement in both the application and acceptance of AI within customer experience.
When it comes to customer interactions, I expect to continue seeing technological advances that make human-bot interactions feel more natural (at least to the humans!), as bots become more capable of correctly identifying contextual cues that trigger the correct responses to customer questions and concerns.
But what about customer support and success agents? Will 2020 be the year that machines finally replace them, as has long been feared by some? I strongly expect that will not be the case and instead AI technologies will continue to supplement human agents, resulting in a better customer experience than either humans or machines could provide on their own.
What to watch: Decreased fear of AI among both customers and CX professionals as the technology continues to advance and the benefits become even clearer.
Data as the Connecting Thread
Beyond customers themselves, the common thread linking all of my predictions above is the harnessing of data to enhance the customer experience. From personalization to a smooth transition from self-service to a human agent to the use of AI, it all comes down to the proper collection and application of data.
Most companies today have the collection aspect down pat, but what I predict will continue to improve in 2020 and the years beyond is how data is analyzed and utilized — particularly at scale. This will enable companies to better identify trends, which in turn will be applied to predict behavior earlier and more accurately.
For example, a support team will be able to spot a bug before most customers have even updated to the latest software version. And a customer success manager will be able to more easily identify the customers at greatest risk of churning.
Similar to personalization, this prediction will require not just a strategy for knowledge management but the creation of a true knowledge-sharing culture that promotes collaboration rather than hoarding. The resulting insights can then be made available to different teams within the organization to benefit every aspect of the customer journey.
What to watch: How effectively companies are able to transition from a culture of knowledge hoarding to knowledge sharing marked by interdepartmental collaboration.
What Do You Think?
As I mentioned, these predictions were informed by my discussions throughout the past year with CX professionals at all levels, and I’m eager to keep the conversation going.
Whether you agree or disagree with what I’ve written, I’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with me via Twitter at @burgundy_fan.