2020 is set to see further advancements in Customer Experience.

Here, seven industry experts have their say on the trends they believe will make an impact in the coming months…

Lucia Juliano, Sector Head CPG at Harris Interactive

“Over the decade, consumer expectations from brands have not only risen, but have begun to change at a faster pace.

“Customer loyalty is decreasing, with consumers being quick to drop a brand that doesn’t meet expectations – particularly those in the key 23-38 age range. As a result, the experiences brands offer have become critical to retaining a client base and ensuring relevance in today’s fickle market.

“From our research at Harris Interactive, we’ve seen that the material experience can be as impactful as the digital one, particularly with regards to packaging and products themselves. Concerns over environmental impact are growing and this will continue to influence consumer choices in the coming year.

“More and more customers will choose brands that reflect their desire for sustainability, meaning brands need to respond to this trend to meet consumer expectations.

“This will require development teams to not only keep in touch with current trends, but employ innovative means to predict and react to them. Adopting technologies that facilitate smarter, agile decision making will enable brands to make impactful updates to their offerings. Quick access to consumer insights are essential in this process, to make sure that product or service developments reflect customer expectations in the moment.”

Michael Patterson, Managing Director EMEA at DynamicAction

“Over the last decade and the rise of the digital native, customers have come to demand more of retail, expecting the personalisation, speed, and convenience they’re used to in other areas of their digitally-enabled, always-on lives.

“As the high street struggles to meet this demand, it’s become increasingly vital for retailers to fundamentally re-frame their mindset and shift towards a more intelligent, customer-centred operating model. Only then can retailers keep ahead of new trends and weather the current industry storm.

“This isn’t the first time retail has faced change, and it’s likely consumers will maintain their deep cultural connection with the UK retail sector – something they see as being at the heart of British lifestyle.

“However, going into 2020, this relationship will need to be actively nurtured with a seamless combination of both the physical and digital worlds. Captivating consumers with an immersive and interactive experience is already being used to great effect by retailers like Nike, and now it’s time for others to embrace the theatrics of digital in-store if they are to successfully evolve into this new decade.”

Darren Guaranccia Chief Product Officer at Crownpeak

“Over 80 percent of organisations expect to compete on customer experience and with 86 percent of consumers saying they’d pay more for a great Customer Experience, we can expect ever increasing competitive pressure in this area in 2020 and beyond.

“As with everything, AI and ML will have a big role to play here. By examining interaction data, algorithms can predict likely churn accounts.

“By scanning transaction data, they can automatically identify and predict the most profitable customers allowing the organisations to double-down on the quality of experiences for their most valuable customers, perhaps even before they become profitable. Scanning interaction transcripts, first line support can be pushed to AI that can solve problems and route customers more efficiently.

“Voice technology will also continue to become more widely used as we move into 2020, becoming more contextualised – using more environmental cues to help answer customer questions and perform actions. With this, however, comes increased levels of scrutiny. Many people believe voice systems like Siri and Facebook are listening in to their conversations, and as they perform everyday tasks. Brands will have to work hard to make their voice activated systems as helpful as possible, while not appearing creepy. Customer trust will be essential for brands in 2020.

“But ultimately, great customer experience will still come from the human understanding of your audience and their needs. Organisations that invest in CX leaders to drive the human, technology and process changes required will be the real winners in the coming CX economy.”

Gareth Stephens, CEO of UK and Middle East at 4C

“As the digital transformation continues to gather momentum, businesses clamour to hit the headlines with the latest revolutionary tech that will change people’s lives and set them apart from the competition. 

“But in many cases, the drive to be the first to have the most impressive technology has blinded them to keeping consumer needs at front of stage. Take drone deliveries as a case in point. Heralded by Amazon back in 2013, the idea has been dogged by scepticism, regulation and a host of logistical concerns since – hardly the consumer reaction the business had clearly anticipated.

“In 2020, businesses must keep their feet firmly on the ground when approaching the lure of latest technologies. After all, tech innovations are only as good as the consumer need they fulfil. Tech that can reduce call waiting times may be far more welcome than the latest function on a website, for instance.

“Data will be key in understanding audiences, building consumer insight, and analysing changing behaviours. That data will help you find the right technology to delight the end-user – and adapt as their needs evolve. The digital transformation is changing the way we do business – but it must have the customer at its heart.” 

Lindsay McEwan, VP and Managing Director, EMEA at Tealium

“It’s vital that businesses keep up with the expectations of consumers to succeed in 2020. With competition fierce and consumer expectations increasingly high, customer centricity should be at the forefront of all businesses’ growth strategies. The organisations that thrive will be those that provide a seamless experience – no matter the device – through a holistic understanding of their customers’ wants and needs.

“Building lasting relationships that drive returns means delivering relevant and engaging experiences that consistently provide real value for customers. And to do so, marketers must first create a solid foundation of insight where all the pieces of an individual’s journey – including every interaction across every channel – are connected to create a single source of truth.

“While long-standing silos between marketing, sales, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems have been holding this back, the careful selection of the right tools can make it easier to close the gaps. Now, the implementation of solutions such as Customer Data Platforms (CDP) is crucial to empower the quick and flexible linking of data from all sources to better understand consumers and, crucially, retain them.”

Jeff Pfefferkorn, Head of Sales UK at MainAd

“Following the decline of the third-party cookie, brands in 2020 will adopt people-based marketing to reliably map customer journeys.

“With cookies unable to adapt to the growth in omnichannel, marketing will need an alternative solution to understand consumer behaviours across multiple devices and channels. To engage users in a fragmented digital landscape, brands must focus their efforts on mobile in particular as users are accessing more content on the small screen than anywhere else.

“Mobile and in app advertising will drive innovation in the way  brands interact with their target consumers, offering a wealth of behavioural insights through first-party data. Coupled with the rise of sophisticated, AI-powered tools, marketers will be able to use these insights to serve personalised messages to highly targeted demographics.

“Basing ad delivery on a consumer’s previous behavioural history will also allow brands to effectively re-engage users through their preferred digital channels – this will allow marketers to understand the full customer journey, closing the gaps between touchpoints.”

Ben Samuel, VP Sales EMEA at Nielsen Marketing Effectiveness

“Customer disloyalty is the new name of the marketing game. In fact, recent Nielsen findings show long-term devotion is no longer an asset brands can bank on, with just eight percent of global consumers considering themselves as loyal.

“With 46 percent of consumers more likely to try new brands than they were five years ago, adapting campaign strategies and tactics to these shifting dynamics will be essential for success in the months and years ahead.

“Loyal groups are generally niche and not substantial enough to support the majority of sales. Therefore, marketing initiatives will need to focus on those consumers keen to try new brands and outclass competitors on the factor that counts most: Customer Experience.

“Today’s consumers are looking for personalised experiences that cut through the noise and emphasise the unique purpose and value brands can offer them. Effective measurement will, more than ever, be key to this. If you can understand which creative messages, offers and content resonate with key audiences, then you can entice ‘disloyal’ consumers to make the switch.”

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