Customer experience has been a key focus for businesses in recent years, often prioritised over other opportunities such as mobile, content marketing and social.
In fact a2016 surveyby American market research company Forrester found that 72 per cent of businesses said improving customer experience was their top priority.
This was borne out in 2017, with retailers in particular realising that providing an excellent customer experience was one of the most compelling ways to differentiate their brand.
However,Forresters2017 Global Customer Experience Trends reportfound there was still a long way to go, with the vast majority of firms in digital and traditional retail, banking and insurance around the world only earning Customer Experience Index (CX Index) scores in the OK range. In the UK, good scores were scarce.
The report found digital retailers were delivering slightly better customer experiences than traditional retailers, but traditional retailers were improving fast. It said this showed digital transformation could not be seen in isolation.
So, as we begin 2018 and more businesses commit to improving customer experience, what are some of the trends we should look out for?
Omnichannel has been a buzzword in sales for some years, but 2018 is when the concept will really come into its own, driven by demand.
Customers expect seamless integration across channels using a variety of devices, and if businesses arent providing that service in 2018, or are only giving lip service to it, customers will take their business elsewhere.
As a result, more businesses will invest in technology to make the customer journey as organic and efficient as possible.
Tied into this is the concept of social retailing. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are increasingly serving as online stores, and in 2018 we will see more retailers integrating their sales and social media platforms.
Many brands are starting to appreciate that personalisation is one of the main drivers to improving customer experience.
Customers now expect and demand a greater deal of personalisation from the brands they interact with, and the most successful businesses in 2018 will be those that treat their customers as individuals, remembering their preferences and anticipating their needs.
Gathering and analysing customer data will be key to achieving a personalised experience.
Businesses will have to use all their channels and resources to capture this data and then focus their efforts on really understanding it in order to gain a complete picture of the customer.
It goes without saying that the introduction of the EUs General Data Protection Regulation in May will mean big changes for businesses.
The GDPR will give individuals a series of rights, including the right to access any data held on them and the right to have data erased. If business do not comply, then they risk receiving huge fines.
They will have to carefully consider how they collect, store and use their customer data in future and we would highly recommend that a strategy is put in place to ensure they are fully compliant in time.