If you are not aware of the digital revolution, you are missing out. Every customer-centric organization is talking about the changing and digitizing customer experience that is expected to revolutionize how businesses interact with and sell to their customers. Sales force automation tools, analytics, and AI-based solutions are all allowing organizations to leverage data and personalize customer experience to their liking. The customer is the king and leaving no stone unturned in defining and demanding what they want. Customers have blurred the lines between large corporations and start-ups- expecting the same experience from their small-scale sellers. We are continually venturing into a new era- one that will be defined by the customers dictating the experience they want from businesses they buy from. Here’s What’s Driving the Change in Customer Experience As we venture into the new decade, here are a few factors shaping up the customer experience: Informed and Intelligent Customers – With the availability of information on fingertips, customers today know the state of the business world. They are aware of what each business has to offer. They compare not only prices but experience. When that is the case, companies will have to up their game in attracting customers to their brand. Customers of today and tomorrow will decide what they need from a business in terms of the customer experience. Free-to-Switch Customers – Customers today enjoy many options so that the services or products they receive are tailored to their liking. With an array of options and no lock-ins, customers will choose their brands and switch in no time when they feel like. Global Competition – Products and services both defy boundaries in this hyper-connected world of today. Therefore, your competitors are not just your local businesses anymore. You compete with businesses across the globe. The customer is free to opt a business thousand miles away rather than the next-door local shop- to get better customer experience. New and Exciting Tech Advancements – Customer expectations are shifting, thanks to new and unpredictable technologies that are constantly changing the way businesses allure customers into buying from them. This will keep happening through 2020 and will be a key driver in carving out the customer experience of tomorrow. Customer Empowerment – THe power lies with the customer in steering businesses to his liking. Companies are trying to beat the competition by taking customer demands, queries, and grievances very seriously. This brand differentiator is a big reason why businesses are empowering customers to place more and more pressure on brands to deliver better services. The Increasing use of Mobile Devices – Customers are rapidly shifting to mobile devices such as wearables, smartphones, and tablets. These web-enabled devices have opened businesses to newer ways of marketing to their customers and selling to them. Mobile device usage is also a key determinant in how customer experience will look in 2020 and beyond. How Customer Experience will look in 2020 and Further According to a new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit for Marketo, here’s what buyers say constitutes a positive customer experience: Quick response to inquiries and concerns – 47% A simple and seamless purchasing process – 46% The ability to track orders in real-time – 34% The clarity, consistency, and availability of product experience across channels – 25% The ability to interact with a business over multiple platforms – 22% Access to in-depth product information in stores with tech – 18% The ability to interact with the company 24/7 – 14% Here’s how customer experience will change by the end of this decade: IoT as CX Booster – There are going to be 20 billion things connected to the internet by 2020. These are phones, watches, PCs, and objects such as cars, TVs, jet engines, etc. As customers leverage more and more of these connected devices, marketers will encourage customer interaction through these devices with in-moment marketing. Marketers will enhance CX with in-depth analytics, offering relevant, real-time, valuable propositions. IoT will enable marketers to create personalized discounts that fall in tune with customer needs and brand objectives. Omni-channel as the Customer Prefers – A few years ago, it was considered disruptive to tie various channels in a bid to create a single unified customer experience. Today, this can become your differentiator. Omni-channel includes real-time data sync between channels. By doing so, the customer can pick up a half-done process on a different channel. This leads to more convenience and better CX. AI and Smart Assistants – 85% of customer interactions with a business will be non-human, as per Gartner. AI-powered intelligent assistants will greatly enhance the customer experience by 2020. Chatbots will then be more capable of offering a personalized interaction and create contextual customer engagement. Smart assistants will go beyond answering questions and following easy orders by 2020, creating a landmark shift in customer experience. Consistent Multi-channel Communication – Today, customers want to interact with businesses over their preferred channel of communication. For that, businesses need to maintain consistent messaging across various platforms to serve their customers. By 2020, businesses will have leveraged social media platforms, online communities, and so many more channels to get their message across to the customer. Immersive Technologies – Organizations in 2020 will rapidly move toward holistic design thinking and leverage technologies that provide immersive experiences to their customers- such as AR and VR. Businesses will create other-worldly experiences for their customers using AR and VR, allowing customers to touch, feel, and hear about products and features. Fashion businesses are already experimenting with AR and VR, allowing buyers to view how they would look in particular clothing or accessory. Hyper-Personalization – Companies will more likely adopt personalization strategies beyond the ones that are in use today. Hyper-personalization will need businesses to have one-view of each customer across all his interactions with the business and various touchpoints. This data is key to tailoring a customer’s experience with a brand. Marketers might come across a scenario where they need to roll out individualized services and products to suit the interests of their diverse user base. Seamless Processes – Customers today have no time for hassles. The CX environment of 2020 will be driven by immediate responses and actions. Whether you need to reply to queries, deliver goods laser-fast, serve discounts, or process payments, if the navigation is not seamless, it is worth dropping. A few examples of meeting customer needs quickly are same-day delivery, expedited shipping, sharing economy, self-service, chatbots, and delivery through drones. Proactive Relationships – Businesses are no longer expected only to address the customer’s current needs. Customers demand a more proactive approach to meeting their current as well as future needs and desires. They want their brands to gauge and predict what they might need next and set them up for personalized experiences. According to Forrester Research, customers use a variety of channels to communicate with a business: 84% use the self-service mobile app or the FAQ section on your website. 83% have conversations with a customer service rep. 76% resolve queries over email. 65% use instant messaging or online chat with a person. 63% interact with businesses through voice self-service. 56% choose online forums and communities that have other customers. 43% contact companies Therefore, customer experience across channels has become a key differentiator for businesses. Customer Experience is What Makes a Difference Customer experience is a dynamic pursuit- one that doesn’t end. Therefore, it is vague for marketers to view customer experience as something that can be undertaken, implemented, and done with. Just as salespersons can leverage sales force automation tools to increase operational efficiency and steer efforts as per customer interests, marketing teams will also have to comply with the changing customer needs. Customer experience is a long journey that includes: Delivering exceptional services. Transforming internal processes that impact the customer. Foraying into digital transformation. Establishing policies that address new and fresh technologies and their internal use. Making the customer the heart and soul of your business. Transforming business presence across channels so it consists of a single voice and a consistent message. Listening to customer needs and desires. Empowering customers to ask for more and get answered. Changing age-old systems that don’t speak to customer needs today. To create exceptional user experiences, all of an organization’s systems, assets, and resources including customer engagement processes, teams and departments, data sources, and devices- should be brought under a single unified system. This will help CX executives to strategize and prioritize activities that can yield quicker ROI from both internal and the customer’s perspective. Businesses need to make way for intelligence to creep into their structures and cause disruption. Since data lies at the core of these changes, it is important to leave out silos and integrate all customer information to form a single point of truth for each customer. CX is the way to sell to buyers in 2020. Are you ready?