The Christmas presents are open, the tree has dropped its needles and we’re back in the office again. After several days of surviving only on mince pies and Quality Street, it’s now time to gaze into the corporate crystal ball and forecast what’s going to be important to businesses, their clients and end consumers over the next twelve months.
Here are the predictions from the ghost of customer experience yet to come:
Growth for growth’s sake is out. The rise of pressure groups such as Extinction Rebellion and activists like Greta Thunberg, Time’s 2019 person of the year, have put the climate crisis front and centre of everybody’s minds.
Shareholder demands for environmental, social and corporate governance are getting more urgent. In 2020, businesses must respond by radically rethinking their business models to protect the planet and collaborate to bring about disruption in their industries.
Tech is going to change the way we use and think about money. Almost invisible payment systems will make shopping as easy as swiping an app, picking what you need off the shelves and walking out the door, bringing a huge opportunity to enhance the retail customer experience.
Beyond retail, digital doubles will predict, optimise and personalise customer solutions while developments in AI will continue to add more value.
All of this tech will generate huge amounts of data, making upskilling a priority with 40% of firms launching data literacy programs for their staff.
Hyper-targeted customer experiences
Imagine if a shop display could recognise you and offer you targeted content based on your previous purchases, or even your internet browsing history. As machines become better at reading our physical features, enabled by 5G, brands will respond by designing new products and services that are more personalised than ever.
To stay ahead of the curve, brands will have to focus on using this tech to create meaningful human moments.
And if this sounds a bit dystopian, it points to a business need to address concerns about privacy, transparency and integrity while exceeding customer expectations.
Changing customer values
Despite these advances in customer experience and payment systems, we’re starting to define ourselves less and less around jobs and possessions. Instead, consumers are becoming more values-based and forcing businesses to take sides on social issues.
In response, companies must redefine themselves too, recognising this evolution and supporting customers’ and employees’ values, identities and their pursuit of deeper meaning in their daily lives.
New workplace responsibilities
All of these changes will bring shifts to traditional job roles, while lifelong learning, flexible working and mental health continue to rocket up the workplace agenda.
CMOs will become increasingly responsible for the entire customer journey, facing increasing pressure to quantify their impact on people, planet and profit.
Meanwhile, CIOs will transition into trusted advisors to employee experience teams to help with changing workforce dynamics, including working with new technologies.
The companies that embrace these themes will have a successful year positioning themselves as forward-thinking and proactively anticipating customer needs. And for those who fail to adapt to this new world, in the words of a US Army General, “If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.”