By Shep Hyken
Happy New Year! We have an exciting year ahead of us. So much has changed in just the past three years. And in the world of customer service and CX, there is much to be excited about. Last month I released my annual Top Ten Customer Experience Predictions in my weekly Forbes column. I don’t often repeat content, but I’m going to share those predictions and trends here, in a revised and shorter format. Here we go:
1. Customers Will Be Smarter and More Demanding Than Ever – I may sound like a broken record as I start each year with this prediction. Regardless of the type of business you’re in (B2B, B2C, B2B2C), everyone is a consumer. Certain B2C rockstar brands are teaching our customers what good service is like, and they now have higher expectations.
2. Companies Will Focus as Much – Maybe More – on Employees as They Do on Customers – With the employment issues that many companies are experiencing, we must do as much for our employees, if not more, than we do for our customers. Just as we want our customers to come back, we want our employees to stay.
3. Customers’ Expectations of the “Basics” Continue to Rise – The basics are about friendly, helpful, convenient service. Our customer service research (sponsored by Amazon) found that year over year, customers’ expectations of these basics increased. The basics are simple to understand and not all that hard to implement.
4. Personalization Gets More Personal – Today’s customers are experiencing hyper-personalization. A better word for personalization might be individualization. So, what are you doing to create a truly individualized experience for your customers?
5. Some Companies Will Cut Expenses In the Wrong Places – With supply chain issues, employee issues and a rocky economy, many companies will have to make cuts. Some companies will make the mistake of cutting in areas their customers might notice – and that’s a mistake you want to avoid.
6. Customer Support Over the Phone Is Not Dead – The phone is still the most popular way for customers to contact a company with questions or problems. Our customer service research revealed that 87% of Baby Boomers, who make up over 21% of the U.S. population, prefer the phone any other channel. Keep those phones open for your customers!
7. Self-Service Is More Popular than Ever – While the phone still rules as the most popular way for people to contact a company, more and more customers are willing to use self-service options, such as a robust FAQ page on a website, chatbots, video tutorials and more. And just as Boomers are driving the traditional phone channels, Gen-Z and Millennials are moving the needle on these self-service options.
8. More Companies and Brands Will Stand for Something Important – Forty-five percent of your customers believe it’s important that a company supports a social cause. That’s almost half of your customers, and that number will grow. This is especially important to the younger generations, so if that’s your market, find ways to “give back” to support the issues that are important to your customers.
9. Customers Want to Do Business With Companies and Brands They Trust – This concept has become more important in the past few years. Trust is an emotional connection that drives repeat business and loyalty. One way to earn trust is to create a predictable, consistent experience. Eighty-one percent of consumers we surveyed said a great customer experience increases trust.
10. The Customer Support Department Becomes the Revenue Generation Department – In the past, customer support has been seen as a cost. Smart leaders are now realizing that customer service and a focus on CX pays. If you’ve been following me, you know I’m a fan of referring to customer support as the Revenue Generation Department or the Customer Retention Center. Done right, customer support makes you money.