7 Customer Experience Trends Brands Must Embrace to Get Ahead of the Competition

Customer experience is becoming a race and competition is fierce! But what exactly is customer experience and why should your business care? It’s the impression you leave with your customers that affects how they think of your brand across every stage of their customer journey. Today, “89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from just 36% in 2010.”

Customers hold all the power because it is so easy for them to communicate with brands across many channels, from email and social media to live chat. Just one bad experience with your product or customer service can quickly trigger a loss of customers to your competition. Your customers are comparing you to the best experiences they’ve had, even with large customer-centric brands like Amazon, Uber and Airbnb.

With over 125,000 clients in 160 countries, Zendesk is a leader in helping brands create the best customer experience. Our team attended Zendesk’s 2019 Showcase event in Dallas and pulled together 7 insights on the latest customer trends.

  1. Customers are fast, informed and more empowered. Businesses are “slow, disconnected, and powerless.” Mark Woolen, SVP of Product & Platform Marketing at Zendesk, shared that with multiple disjointed systems, most businesses are not empowered to give a good customer experience. That’s where customer platforms that are open and flexible can help businesses keep up with growing customer expectations and connect all the dots of the customer journey.

  2. Customer experience, empathy and social impact are major differentiators. According to market research from Tiffany Apczynski, VP of Social Impact & Public Policy at Zendesk, customer service “is THE job for the next decade.” Hiring of contact center agents will grow by 36% for brands to deliver on their customer-first vision. Customers want knowledgeable agents and agents strive to have friendly customers. On top of this, people also want to feel good about a purchase and will buy from brands that make a difference in the world. That’s where empathy comes in. Beyond just growing the bottom line, businesses are expected to be agents of change and companies that display humanity will rise to the top.

  3. Leveraging technology to create a personal touch is becoming more important. Keynote speaker Erin Foster, Head of Creative at Bumble, shared that just because technology makes our lives easier doesn’t mean it should make experiences feel less personal. Interactions should feel human, like you’re talking to “me”. Operating as an authentic human, getting into the mind of the customer in all interactions and avoiding scripted responses in the age of technology are all ways to differentiate yourself from your competition. It is increasingly important to keep that personal connection as your company grows.

    4. Customer service needs to feel on brand and authentic. For Sam Goff, Guest Services Director at Magnolia, “treating one million like they’re one” is the Magnolia brand’s number one goal. The “guests” who call our customer service line feel like they know Chip and Joanna. The brand exudes Southern hospitality and represents values of inspiration, empathy and authenticity. Magnolia customer service agents even have a budget allowance for sending customers a gift card in order to “surprise and delight” them when things aren’t quite as expected with their product order.

  4. Brands are strategizing on how to best support customers’ needs. 87% of customers believe that businesses need to have flawless customer experience. Chris “Chilly” Wilson, Director of Customer Experience at WPEngine, shared an example of putting proactive support into practice. As a digital experience platform that serves 90,000 customers in 140 countries, they noticed that they had a 98% CSAT in chat. The organization decided to drive a majority of its traffic to chat for customers who wanted it 24/7. They learned to intercept incoming volume in a way that the customer liked best. By finding something small, repeatable, and measuring the business value, WPEngine was able to think ahead and anticipate a customer need to optimize the customer experience.

  5. Data is the new oil. Companies are refining customer data to inform marketing strategy. Martin Doettling, GM & VP of Analytics at Zendesk, discussed our data-driven world and how it impacts CX leaders. Analytics tools allow you to take control of your customer data and make strategic, data-driven decisions. Customer service interactions produce a ton of data. Clive Humby, Mathematician & architect of Tesco’s Clubcard said, “Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used.”

  6. 81% of customers will switch to another brand because of bad customer service. In addition to flawless service, customers expect integrated, omnichannel support. When calling customer service, they want the agent to know that they had emailed a question two days ago. By relying on your unique organizational culture and data, experimenting with the integration of channels that work best for your customer, and empowering the customer to self-solve their issue, your organization can form the best strategies to achieve the highest customer satisfaction.

Interested in optimizing your customer experience? Learn more about Zendesk products here.

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