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What will you do differently this year to increase customer satisfaction and attract new business?

Based on our years helping companies with customer experience strategy and communications, the Beyond the Arc team shared insights on some top trends to keep on your radar this year…

Put the customer first in customer communications

Even if you’ve increased focus on customer experience, you may still struggle with how to really connect with customers. Too often, communications center on the business instead of customer needs. As Jacqueline Espinoza, a customer experience strategist, notes:

Customer-centric communications will need greater focus in large companies – mainly for emails, text messages and communication via secure portals. This trend is alive and strong because it is difficult for large companies to do it well.

A key consideration is how customers access your communications. In 2018, consumers worldwide received over 111 billion emails per day, with the volume projected to grow by six billion this year1. Now, add the rapidly growing reliance on smartphones and you’ve got another challenge. According to our communications leader and Director of Creative Services, Gavin James, mobile-friendly customer communications are becoming business critical:

people on mobile phonesWhile marketing emails can tell a story with a catchy headline and images, customer service communications typically need more meat. Whether it’s highlighting options, explaining functionality or terms, or providing educational insights, many companies struggle with how to say more with less in engaging ways that drive customer action. Studies show up to 75% of consumers check email on their smartphone, which underscores the need to improve critical communications.

Stay up-to-date on where to engage in social media

Connecting with your customers in social media is no longer optional – they expect you to be there. But where? Social networks are constantly shifting based on user interaction, so you’ll want to stay current on where to invest your efforts. Our data science guru, Bruce Johnson, sees these trends emerging:

Tumblr will fade away. Collectors will drift towards Pinterest, while niche market players will move back to Twitter. Twitter will remain relevant for memes and current events. Brands need a presence there in order to respond. Facebook continues to flounder in its ability to regulate content, while its advertising model continues to decimate traditional ad vendors such as newspapers. Facebook will likely acquire a major traditional news vendor (think New York Times) to assist with content creation, and become the gold standard for global news distribution.

Create cross-digital strategies for better results with lower cost

You also need to get more bang for your buck. That means increasing the business value of communications with cross-digital content strategies. Gavin sees the road ahead this way:

Many companies are hamstrung by their own siloed organization and will need to retool their approach to keep pace with the digital customer experience. Too often, communications pushed to one channel are not consistently promoted on others. As a result, efforts get duplicated and customer engagement may be lower. In other words, more cost, less impact. Companies need to take a holistic view of their marketing and customer communications, and develop cost-efficient strategies to repurpose content across channels to maximize exposure while lowering costs.

Help customers help themselves

The evolving customer experience also relies on providing faster, easier ways for customers to meet their needs. Nina Katz, our communications and training specialist, sees chatbots playing a role:

While chatbots have become an expected part of the online experience, companies will need to employ new technologies so chatbots grow more adept at responding to nuanced situations.

Self-service check-out (unstaffed registers) will become more prevalent as well. Jacqueline predicts:

We’ll see an increase of 20% in self-service checkout. Gas stations were the leaders in this a long time ago. Now we’re seeing it in grocery stores and retail giants like Target and Home Depot. We can expect more self-service growth in retail at places such as CVS, Walgreens, Macys, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, and more.

Kicking things up a notch, our CEO, Steven Ramirez, sees tech innovations simplifying how people manage their money:

Technology companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google have disrupted a range of industries from advertising, to retail, to computer hardware. In 2019, they’ll increasingly target financial services. With this growth in TechFin, we can expect to see the creation of financial experiences, not just new products or services. The way you receive your paycheck, spend it, and save for the future will be technology-enabled to better reflect your personal needs and long-term goals.

When focusing on CX, remember EX too

work team fistbumpingIf keeping your customers happy is a challenge, remember it all starts with your employees. CX designer, Michelle Espinoza, sees an opportunity for businesses to better engage employees:

Companies are focusing so intensely on CX, they’re losing sight of the employee experience. They may try to elevate the customer experience, but without engaged employees, they won’t be able to do so. Everyone is trying to be like Amazon, but are they considering the stress that places on their employees? Unmotivated and disengaged teams won’t be able to deliver those results. And just like Amazon set the bar for CX, we can expect to see companies emerge that set the bar for employee experience as well.

Looking to tackle these challenges or explore opportunities in the year ahead? Let’s start a conversation on how we can help!