Customer Experience (CX) is not just a buzz word. Businesses are operating in a saturated market where brand loyalty is decreasing, price competition is rising and consumers are distracted and exposed to several media, devices and a lot of information.
In this complex ecosystem, CX is becoming crucial for companies in order to differentiate themselves, improve customer satisfaction, foster loyalty, reduce churn and ultimately increase revenue.
Just to provide few examples, according to a KPMG study (2017) there is a positive correlation between CX and financial results. A report by McKinsey (2014) found that companies focusing on maximising satisfaction of the entire customer journey can potentially increase customer satisfaction by 20%. And again, Forrester (2016) showed that superior CX drives superior revenue growth. When they compared the total growth rate of all CX leaders to that of all CX laggards they noticed that the leaders collectively had a 14-percentage point advantage.
So CX is not just the latest trend, but what is it exactly and what makes a CX outstanding?
There are different opinions on what the key elements of a good CX are. In my view, a good CX must be Consistent, Useful, Personalised and Delightful. I like to think that it’s not a coincidence that if you play with those words, you get CUPiD, the Latin God of attraction and love who would strike you with an arrow and make you fall in love with someone…or in our case with a brand!
So, if in the eyes of the consumers, CX is trumping price and products, what are the areas where companies are investing to make their CX unique and respond effectively to consumers’ needs?
According to a recent survey by eConsultancy (2017), over one-fifth of client respondents ranked 'optimising CX' as the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead. In order to deliver differentiated CX, brands are looking at: engaging audiences through virtual or augmented reality, using artificial intelligence/ bots to drive campaigns and experiences, enhanced payment technologies and finally internet of things.
In fact, the industry agrees that there are at least three prominent trends that are driving CX to the next level: VR/AR, AI/Bots, Mobile/IoT.
VR and AR will play an important role in connecting the online and in-store experience.
For example, it will enable customers to try before they buy. Amazon has just patented a mirror that dresses you in virtual clothes. Ikea has recently launched Ikea Place, which allows users to place virtual Ikea furniture into their own home to see how everything might look once assembled.
Another home interiors-related app, Dulux Visualiser uses AR to see what your walls will look like when painted a different colour.
AR can also be utilised to improve the experience in-store. Home Depot, for example, has launched an app that allows customers to find products inside a shop using real-time inventory and visual search. The Home Depot App has the ability to sense when the customer enters one of the stores and it activates the in-store mode, allowing them to find any item where they are. You can even use your camera to take a picture of an unfamiliar item and the app will show you a list of similar products and where to locate them.
AI is taking the personalisation to the next level. Chatbots, for example, are making every one-to-one interaction completely tailored, allowing customers to engage 24/7 with a “virtual” representative that mimics the way a customer support representative would talk.
Levi’s, for example, has announced a chatbot on Facebook Messenger, Levi’s Virtual Stylist, which will help customers find the perfect pair of jeans, providing shoppers with fit, rise and stretch recommendations in order to increase satisfaction and reduce returns.
Another example of how AI will change CX is through an improved ad-relevance and on-site experience.
In the last Shoptalk Europe, Topman explained how they are optimising conversion rates by serving different messages to shoppers when they are at risk of leaving the website. The notifications use machine learning to address issues that will help retain the consumers. For example, letting them know an item is low in stock is providing an uplift of 3-5%.
3. Mobile & IoT
Mobiles, wearables and smart devices will help provide a consistent and seamless experience for customers. Let’s just think about how mobile payment has impacted our lives and how easy it is today to browse, choose and pay all within the same app.
In the UK alone, mobile payments spending tripled in the first half of 2017. In China Mobile payments totaled 81 trillion yuan ($16.7 trillion) for the first 10 months of 2017, nearly 40 per cent more than the whole of the previous year.
As smartphones became ubiquitous, they became the perfect device to act as the hub of CX. But mobiles are just the beginning. According to Intel, there will be 200 billion connected devices by 2020. A market that will reach $1.29 trillion. Future IoT-enabled devices have the potential to allow marketers to uncover new innovative ways to understand and influence customer activity, behaviour, and consuming trends.
Some great examples of how IoT is driving truly connected and omni-channel experiences is Amazon go, where customers place items in their baskets and simply walk out of the store when they have finished shopping.
OfferMoments has developed dynamic billboards that change as you walk by. They turn digital screens into an interactive experience with adverts customised to you.
Another great example of IoT in action is Rebecca Minkoff’s dressing room with smart mirrors enabled to read information from RFID tags placed on items brought into the cubicles.
CX is not the latest buzz word. It’s determining customer loyalty, influencing churn and ultimately has an impact on revenue and profits.
To be successful, CX should be Consistent, Useful, Personalised and Delightful.
Companies see optimising CX as the main opportunity for the years ahead. They are investing in new technologies to transform their CX and make it unique. Virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and Internet of things are at the forefront of these investments and are increasingly playing a key role in defining the future of CX.
Register for Modern Customer Experience 2018 here.
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