According to a new customer-experience trends report released by Fonolo, in 2019, CX will reach a point such that its value will become more important than that of the product or service itself. Consequently, the report observes, there’s a lot to do on companies’ tech checklists to appropriately center their brands on the customer.
“CX is what makes the difference in ROI, sales, customer loyalty, and overall success,” reads the report. “Becoming a customer-centric company means investing for the future because customer-centricity is a marathon, not a sprint.”
As such, according to Fonolo (notwithstanding some side discussion in the report about differing philosophies on assigning CX accountability), the CX race of the near future boils down to three key qualities:
AI is the future of CX
As companies have increasingly treated customer service as a cost center instead of an investment, automation and outsourcing have too often filled the gap. Fonolo, however, suggests that AI’s CX value comes from scaling up human intelligence instead of replacing it (and Fonolo is not the first to suggest this).
Still, it is imperative that AI not be viewed as a simple CX shortcut or a mere cost-saving opportunity, as this would detract from customer-centric communication, [and] would then increase friction between customers and companies,” reads Fonolo’s report. “[W]hen designed thoughtfully, AI can better support human agents on the front lines who are readily assisting customers, and can make the handoff simple and seamless for both parties.”
To wit, Fonolo claims, AI enhances customer convenience by allowing brands to be more easily available for seamless interaction across multiple channels.
The best CX will be seamlessly omnichannel
Your customers want to reach you where they feel most comfortable — if not where they already are. Research beyond Fonolo’s report supports this proposition, dictating that brands must enhance their connectivity for enhanced CX success — because their customers themselves are highly technologically connected.
More to the point, however, Fonolo takes care to explain that a proper omnichannel experience — made up of any number of interactions across any number of available channels — must be at once simple while consistently excellent. Otherwise, the report cautions, trust and loyalty go out the window.
“When [brand] interactions involve multiple channels, those very separate interactions get lumped together in the minds of the customers,” reads the report. “So, it is imperative that companies streamline their omnichannel communications and create consistency across all channels.”
Optimal CX will be optimally personalized
Fonolo’s report continues that this age of enhanced connectivity breeds demand not just for omnichannel CX, but also personalized CX. Although the company appears to largely base this conclusion on responses to two questions in a retail-focused study that could be read to demonstrate the opposite point (36 percent giving anti-personalization responses to one cited question, 51 percent to another), Fonolo maintains that personalization technology has led customers to come to expect — and thereby demand — more personalization.
Accordingly, Fonolo advises that brands should at least “be prepared to provide customers with personalized experiences.”
While that prospect necessarily entails curating customers’ valuable personal data, Fonolo suggests that the ends justify the means — that the stakes are too high for the attention and loyalty of demanding customers to not be ready to go to those lengths.
“Adopting a customer-centric mindset [and] engaging customers will provide brands with the most personal, optimal, and desirable customer experiences which the modern consumer has come to expect,” Fonolo concludes. “Today, companies who aren’t willing to make the cultural shift from product-focus to customer-focus will begin falling by the wayside, and rightfully so.”