Link to download: http://brandlove.co.za/wp-content/uploads/Customer-Experience-2014-eBook-by-Brandlove.pdf

I had the opportunity to contribute to an eBook on CX predictions for 2014. The eBook was put together by Chantel Botha of BrandLove. In addition to Chantel, I was also joined by Jeannie Walters of 360Connext, Mike Wittenstein of Storyminers, Johan Botha of BrandLove, Chris Parker of Cool Experience, Eli Goldstein of Customaline, Sean Temlett of iCampus, Shaheema Adams of African Bank and Adam Toporek of Customers That Stick.
Here are my 10 favorite predictions from the eBook:

#1 – Offline meets Online
From Jeannie Walters: In-store and online experiences will continue to blend together. Just as Target started highlighting the “Most Pinned” items from Pinterest, other retailers would be wise to help shoppers blur the lines between their online and offline experiences.

#2 – Once is Witty, Twice is Sh*tty
From Mike Wittenstein: CX Leaders will find, enhance and articulate their own unique value propositions. They’ll stop trying to copy best practices at other companies in favor of doing the harder (and more valuable) work of finding, enhancing, then articulating their own unique advantages. Copying others doesn’t work. Each company is unique (different history, culture, values, decision-making styles, people, and capabilities). Putting on a winning basketball player’s jersey doesn’t make you a better player!

#3 -Three Important Trends: Mobile, Mobile, Mobile…
From Johan Botha: To summarize mobile growth statistics for 2013:

  • 91% of all people on earth have a mobile phone
  • 56% of people own a smart phone
  • 50% of mobile phone users, use mobile as their primary Internet source
  • 72% of tablet owners purchase online from their tablets each week

Looking at the above statistics it should become crystal clear that during 2014 and even beyond, consumers will be migrating away from their desktop computers and looking for solutions on the small screens of their mobile devices. The big question to answer – is your site and content ready? My advice to all businesses for 2014 is to develop and implement a first-class customer-centric mobile experience. Improving mobile conversation rates will be key to stay competitive, win customers and retain consumer loyalty in 2014.

#4 – Technology that Improves CX
From Chris Parker: The pace of development of new and exciting technologies continues to increase exponentially. Companies that are intuitive and disciplined enough to implement technology with focus can materially improve the experience of their customers. A perfect example of this is the ability for employees at Apple Stores to process payment on the spot, and later their introduction of self- payments in the stores using an iPhone. Apple reduces friction in the payment process, which enhances the experience and the brand positioning of innovation and simplicity. Most companies, however, either miss the opportunity to introduce experience-enhancing technologies or do so in a way that actually puts more friction into the customer’s journey. Touch screens, while themselves not a destroyer of the customer’s experience, can be irritating when they don’t work, such as happens occasionally at information kiosks in Ikea or on newer inflight entertainment systems on United Airlines. While it can be humorous for other customers to watch someone pound on these screens out of frustration, it is districting for everyone involved.

#5 – Providing MORE
From Eli Goldstein: Nurturing existing customers to provide unexpected levels of service. Today’s competitive landscape provides many choices for customers and service providers will need to go beyond what their customer’s expect offering them what they never thought was possible. Companies will need to improve their use of various methods to measure the voice of the customer, spoken and unspoken in order to provide this kind of service or face more attrition.

#6 – We are Family
From Sean Temlett: Family time and family experiences are increasingly important as middle class and upper middle class households commit to spending more time with their families. There is an opportunity for retail to shift in two major directions a) ease of transactions b) opportunity for brand engagement and relationship through retail experience. Let me dwell on the second direction, toward relationship and retail experience first. An example of this is Stew Leonard’s dairy outside New York. They offer an outstanding retail experience aimed at families through entertainment and unrivalled retail experiences.
Take a look at any of their videos to see what I mean;
Customers engage with the store displays, employees and products in a way that engenders an engaging experience and draws customers back. Their business model is to sell a limited number of SKUs but at the same time they broaden the range in the narrow set of product categories that they do offer and they encourage volume sales at excellent prices. They have changed the traditional value/price trade-off to one, which increases the value (experience, service, entertainment, range, freshness and taste) and reduces the price.

#7 – Don’t Treat Everyone the Same, Treat Everyone Fairly
My prediction: There will be an increased understanding and focus on key customers in 2014. Why? Because in most businesses, 20% of customers drive 80% of profitability. All customers are truly not created equal. Look for companies to listen and be proactive with their “Vital Few” more often.

#8 – Employees are the main ingredient!
From Shaheema Adams: The sum of all parts has to be equal in the perceptual world of customer experience.
In the mathematical world there is often equations that be bring about results that is positive or negative. In the perceptual world of customer experience I have often found that that there is 3 equations,
(a) One that present a negative experience (X+Y = – 1)
(b) One that presents a good experience (X=Y=1)
(c) One that present a great experience (X+Y= + 1)
People will deliver the experience. However the key ingredient in any of these equations is the people within an organization that needs to deliver the experience. The people that are the key link in ensuring that your customer walks away experiencing either a negative, good or positive experience and that the net effect of the experience either translates into a new sale, a repeat sale, or a loyalist of your brand.
So why is that in this new age of doing business, many companies still only promote their product, brand or in some cases a little bit of customer service as experience. Some South African premium brands still struggle to achieve the correct balance between employee metrics and customer metrics and therefore fall short in realizing the best customer centric culture for their people and organization.

#9 – Geofencing
From Adam Toporek: In 2014, brick and mortar organizations will begin to take this shortened cycle to the next level with mobile apps and, in particular, geofencing.
Geofencing is the concept of creating virtual boundaries, based either on global positioning systems or RFID. These boundaries form an invisible “fence” of sorts, which trigger notices or actions when they are crossed.
The combination of mobile apps and geofencing promises to create key benefits for brick and mortar retailers in 2014.
Fighting Back Against Shopping Apps – One of the challenges brick and mortar retailers have faced in recent years is from shopping apps, like Amazon’s Price Check app, that allow customers to compare an in store price with online prices. This trend of “showrooming” has been challenging for retailers like Best Buy that incur massive costs in rent, labor, and inventory only to be used as “Amazon’s showroom.” However, brick and mortar retailers can use geofencing to fight back against showrooming by pushing special offers directly to customers on their sales floor.

#10 – Instant response will become a competitive differentiator
From Chantel Botha of BrandLove: Competing on price, quality and speed will continue, but my prediction is that the brands that are geared to fast response be on social, email, phone or face to face will be the brands that win. It is no longer good enough to have a 24-hour turn around time for quotes and responses to customer emails. The expectation is closing and I predict that brands that are able to respond the quickest will the attention battle. Brands with traditional Call Centre operations also need to realize that social demands almost instant response.

stan phelpsStan Phelps is the founder of 9 INCH marketing, a consultancy that helps brands obtain customers that are four times as valuable as ordinary customers through the Goldfish Rule. He’s the author of the Purple Goldfish, the Green Goldfish and the Golden Goldfish (coming in May 2014). He works with senior leaders to focus on meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers. Driven by client objectives and inspired by bold vision, Stan creates custom keynotes, workshops, and programs that are memorable and on brand, inspiring businesses to become talk-able by design.

Contact Stan:
stan@9inchmarketing.com
@9inchmarketing
9inchmarketing.com

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