Customer Experience Predictions for 2014

Customer Experience Predictions for 2014
By Mark Cameron

Knowing where your customers are and how to keep them happy in a low cost way has always been a challenge for business. As social media, smartphone apps and other digital technologies have moved into common usage, businesses have suddenly been swamped with an influx of customer and behavioral data. Suddenly knowing where your customers are and what they are doing is not the biggest problem. It’s now time to do something with all of the data that has been collected. Designing the “keep them happy” stage has become a major focus for many businesses.

This is why an innovative approach to customer experience strategy has become so valuable. With so many of the customer touch points becoming digital, understanding how these fit together is vital. So for those of you who are looking at your customer experience, let’s explore what areas you should have on your radar for 2014.

Social media will splinter into highly specialized areas

Over the last few years, most businesses have dabbled with some form of social media or another with varying levels of success. In general, social media channels have been used for marketing (mostly unsuccessfully) and dealing with customer service issues (far more successfully) and distribution channels for content marketing (which is seeing positive results and maturing quickly).

In 2013, roles such as community management, social customer service, content marketing manager, social data analyst and social app developer rose to prominence. Next year these will become far more commonplace. Social media will become more than a place to simply tell your story, it will be seen as the platform to deliver a range of high value services.

Loyalty programs will become “social”

Traditional loyalty programs have always focused on incentivizing repeat transactions. As technology has evolved, the plastic loyalty card of old has been replaced with interactive smartphone apps, now making it possible to use the same “points” mechanisms to incentivize other behaviors. Why would you not get your customers to buy the new widget and tell all of their Facebook friends about it?

Consumer data will start to take center stage

There is a vast amount of data being created by the average consumer. We generate data every time we use our credit card, send an email, click like on Facebook, use our smart phone or search for something on Google. Currently, most of this data is invisible to us. Next year there will be a lot of focus around how this data is released from the gigantic data centers and used by the very people who create it: us. Your data is about to become a new and highly valuable utility.

The smart companies will “get it”

Forrester Research not so long ago said that we have exited out of the information age and are now in the “Age of the Customer”, where commercial success comes from empowering and engaging with customers. The world’s smartest companies understand this and are moving fast to take advantage. They design customer experience maps, creating interactive customer experience journeys and create the innovations that empower their customer base.

The pace of technological change is continuing to speed up. The way that people communicate is becoming increasingly digital. This is not going to stop anytime soon and it is changing the way that consumers deal with the brands they purchase from. Shifts in market trends can now happen overnight. The customer truly is in charge. The only question is: how is your company going to deal with it?

Mark Cameron is CEO and lead strategist of social media conversion and commercialization agency Working Three. While his agency is based in Melbourne, Australia, he works for some of the world’s most innovative and forward-thinking brands. As a regular speaker and writer on social media and digital strategy, Mark stays focused on customers and outcomes, not the technology, leading to simple strategic conclusions.

Photo Credit: One Way Stock via Photo Pin | Creative Commons

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