Brands are being inundated with talk about consumers’ increasing expectations when it comes to customer experience (CX). And as businesses deliver more creative and engaging experiences, forming impactful customer relationships becomes more difficult.
The 2019 CX Trends Report conducted by InMoment suggests that despite evolving conversations around CX, companies are struggling to balance their own needs and changing customer preferences. While 50% of brands say they’re “definitely” doing better at delivering excellent customer experience, just 11% of customers agree.
So how can brands keep up with the change?
Though companies lag behind in providing exceptional CX, there are simple ways to catch up and forge stronger customer connections. InMoment’s study paints a picture of brands chasing down elusive CX success, but also exposes a realm of uncharted terrain. Here are five key CX trends spotted in the data:
1. Lurking Vs. Listening
Companies spend billions of dollars each year analyzing all types of digital interaction data — from social posts to online reviews. Brands can extract useful information from this research, but they may be missing out on the most valuable feedback. Research shows that 70% of consumers believe direct conversations are the best way for companies to capture consumer sentiment, contrasting with only 40% of brands.
This discrepancy reveals an opportunity for businesses to engage more directly with customers — and through digital CX technology, this is possible to do at scale. Moving forward, companies should prioritize direct communication having tech-powered, intelligent and personal conversations directly with customers.
2. Dismissing The Human Factor
AI and other shiny new technologies are stealing brands’ attention (and dollars). However, this singular focus may be to the detriment of customer relationships: 42% of consumers said “better service from staff” is the most important thing brands can do to improve experiences, whereas brands underestimated this factor. Reliable, committed relationships with staff make an impact, influencing customers’ purchasing decisions and increasing satisfaction more than any other factor.
Companies often address CX and employee experience (EX) separately, but these findings reveal they are closely connected. Improved EX (including using tech to bolster employees’ efficacy and enjoyment) creates a more productive and contented staff. This, in turn, impacts CX, leading to happier customers and, ultimately, higher revenue.
3. Pathetic Personalization
Personalization promises powerful opportunities for brands — but those using it strictly to sell products are destined for disappointment. InMoment found that only 21% of consumers thought personalization efforts made them feel “cared for,” and less than half of brands (42%) agree that their efforts are improving relationships.
Brands fail to realize that many customers know what information companies have about them, and expect them to use it to deliver value — as they define it. Companies should capitalize on this desire by creating a personalized CX that delivers meaningful value beyond just the close of the sale.
4. Neglecting Non-Buyers
The question of why people leave without buying constantly occupies the mind of marketers. Now, they have an answer — and it may prompt substantial shifts in their CX approaches. InMoment’s research uncovered that 72% of digital non-buyers are only online to browse, research or comparison shop. For in-store shoppers, 44% of customers who leave without making a purchase do so for the same reason, and an equal 44% don’t buy because the item(s) they came for isn’t in stock.
For brands with physical locations, fixing supply chain issues offers a chance to close more sales. For companies that sell both online and in-person, there’s another compelling opportunity: Find ways to offer value as early in the relationship as possible, and then build from there. Amazon made a brilliant move by rolling out Favorites lists, giving even non-buyers the opportunity to invest in the brand early, and to recruit friends and family. Instead of looking at non-buyers as mysteries to be solved with just the right email or remarketing campaign, view and treat them as valuable customers from the very first touch.
5. Definition Of Loyalty Diverges
All brands aim for high customer loyalty, hoping to cultivate a reliable base of repeat shoppers. But research shows they may be misjudging exactly how consumers demonstrate loyalty. Companies tend to view only positive reviews as signs of loyalty, but a large segment of customers say this trait also includes honest, constructive feedback. Brands may feel inclined to write off customers who provide negative reviews, but it’s important to remember that they are people who cared enough to share their thoughts in the first place.
People who provide both positive and straightforward, constructive feedback may actually be a brand’s most invested and loyal customer base. Over 70% of consumers surveyed say they feel a responsibility for creating a better customer experience. Brands can use these committed customers as a guiding light for improving operations — seeking out and celebrating well-intentioned critiques rather than dismissing them.
While new technology is revolutionizing brands’ customer experience capabilities, InMoment’s findings show that successful CX still relies on some of the basic tenets of human relationships. Companies looking to stay ahead of evolving expectations should focus on improving interactions with customers (both potential and existing) and responding to loyal customers’ feedback. Going back to the basics helps brands develop stronger relationships and create customer experiences that make a lasting impact.
Over the last 12 years, Andrew Park has developed into a recognized thought leader who counsels brands on connecting CX and business success. He now resides as Vice President of Customer Experience Strategy at InMoment, a leader in customer experience management. Beyond helping clients drive both business outcomes and customer satisfaction, Park has spent more than a decade designing, deploying and consulting on customer experience programs for global Fortune 1000 companies. He is CCXP certified, the author of several white papers, an experienced speaker, and regularly contributes to public conversations about customer experience in forums like the Huffington Post, Inc and Forbes.