Think cloud computing was disruptive? That will pale in comparison to what's coming next: the insights revolution. As technologies start to learn from our experiences, the entire human-computer relationship will flip. That’s the essence of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), and it’s groundbreaking for customer experience (CX).
But what specifically about this revolution is turning CX on its head? And what do those trends mean for companies that want to leverage and unlock insights to deliver exceptional digital experiences?
It comes down to the following.
1. Digital Has An Outsized Influence On The Customer Journey
Consumers spend more than six hours a day on digital devices, with half of that on smartphones alone. Companies have taken notice. Across every industry, we see more of the customer experience shifting to digital. Customers often start their journeys in digital, move to the physical world, and then come back to digital. The reason for this is simple: Consumers can often get their needs met better in digital—it’s easier, more convenient, and more on-demand.
Every day, we see new examples of digital driving customer interactions and business growth. Nordstrom’s digital sales now account for more than a third of total sales. AT&T says 76% of its wireless customers prefer to resolve issues through self-service digital channels. PNC, a regional bank, reports that 80% of its bankers visit a retail location only once or less a year.
Our own research shows that tech brands currently lead the way for digital experiences, as ranked by Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and customer satisfaction. Call it whatever you want—the Amazon effect or the Uber of “x”—but these and other companies have disrupted customer expectations forever.
2. More And New Types Of Digital Feedback Keep Coming
It has been nearly two decades since brands started using web intercept surveys to collect customer feedback. Since then, ways to share feedback have proliferated, and it has been up to brands and voice-of-customer providers to keep pace.
Survey vehicles range from random sampling to always-on and opt-in, from long-form to short-form. Even the type of feedback companies capture is diverse, from NPS to star ratings and emojis, images, video, voice—what have you.
And that’s just what feedback we ask for.
The world of indirect feedback includes what can be inferred through what customers say in social media or call-center interactions, or through behavioral data collected from digital analytics, such as web and mobile clickstream or session replays.
There’s a massive and largely untapped opportunity to harness that insight to improve customer experiences, with greater repeatability, scale, and prediction.
3. AI And ML Provide Deeper Insights, Faster Than Ever
According to Gartner, we’re five to 10 years away from being able to fully leverage AI technologies for true competitive advantage. But that’s not tempering enthusiasm, with AI investments expected to increase this year.
The real opportunity will be in using AI and ML to serve up deeper insights faster, optimizing customer experiences in the moment.
What kinds of use cases do we see for AI and customer experience? Plenty, including text, speech, image, and video analytics, anomaly detection, conversational surveys, and journey orchestration.
What Does This All Mean?
Extraordinary digital experiences are not a “nice to have.” They’re a must-have that will give you a competitive advantage and a springboard for future business growth.
Yet 84% of consumers say digital experiences fall short of their expectations.
To transform your digital experiences, we recommend three road-tested strategies for making the most of these trends.
1. Make customer expectations and perceptions an integral part of your digital intelligence: Great CX, whether digital or not, begins with customer needs, intents, expectations, and perceptions. The risk with today’s digital-first mindset is that it’s easy to become too focused on clicks and conversions and forget what’s most vital.
Designing and ensuring great digital experiences requires a disciplined approach to understanding customer attitudes and perceptions.
When your digital intelligence includes attitudinal data, you get the fullest picture of your customers. You understand what they did, why they did it, and how it made them feel. Throw in operational data, and you have the holy grail of digital CX intelligence.
Unfortunately, digital analytics still live in one team in many organizations, while voice-of-the-customer insights live in another. Bringing together these data sets requires commitment from leadership, data integration, and articulation of the WIM (why it matters) to every stakeholder in the company.
2. Benchmark continuously against peers and digital disruptors: The definition of a great digital experience is a moving target. So benchmark yourself against the best. Benchmark yourself against overall satisfaction. Break it down by the drivers of satisfaction. And do it often.
ForeSee research shows digital standouts in every category, including retail, banking, health, and government. But don’t stop there. Customers see the best and worst in digital every day, and they know what “good” looks and feels like. That’s who they compare you to.
3. Develop a holistic CX strategy that exploits digital: The customer journey is complex. CX and digital leaders need to measure, manage, and improve customer experience in ways that track with that complexity. Specifically, a holistic CX strategy must start with a listening program that can enable three levels of action: tactical response, operational improvement, and strategic prioritization.
Be warned: Not all listening posts are created equal. The right mix of listening posts needs to include feedback that’s proactive and reactive, transactional and relationship-based, and solicited and unsolicited, to name just a few requirements.
Listening strategies go beyond digital channels, sure, but digital is often the most effective lever in your CX program. That’s because more and new types of feedback can be captured through digital, it enables real-time insights for faster action, and, in terms of where you should invest, it is often the biggest driver of business growth.
Companies need a CX program that exploits digital at every level of CX action: tactical response, operational improvement, and strategic prioritization.
Customer Value, Business Value
Great CX has always been at the intersection of customer and business needs. More and more, it’s great CX in digital. Digital delivers the convenience, responsiveness, and personalization that customers want, and the customer satisfaction, repeatability, and scale that companies need to grow.
Customers get value. Companies get value. And it gets noticed by customers, which gives you a competitive advantage. It’s a win-win.