By Raghav Sahgal, President, NICE APAC-NICE Systems
It seems to me that the pace of change has been increasing over the past half decade. Trends that would have taken years to set in are now assimilated in our lives in a matter of months. We've taken the time to reflect back on the year that's been, and take a look at what's lying ahead for 2015 on the CX side of things. Here, in a nutshell, are the 5 trends based upon our work with organizations in both India and around the world.
1) Omni-channel is the wave of the future
Customers now expect to receive service from your organization on the channel of their choice, which might be voice, email, SMS/text, web, mobile or social media. Companies provide service on most of these channels. But too often, those channels exist in silos.
While multi-channel customer experience is a given for most large organizations, very few have evolved to build a truly omni-channel customer experience. Omni-channel experience is the desired state for many companies in 2015. What distinguishes omni-channel from multi-channel is that there is true integration between channels on the back end. For example, when a store has implemented an omni-channel approach, the customer service representative in the store will be able to immediately reference the customer's previous purchases and preferences just as easily as the customer service representative on the phone or the customer service web-chat representative can. The only way this is achievable, is by utilizing solutions that help you understand, predict and adapt to your customers' needs in real time - across channels - so that you can create tailored experiences that go beyond what customers expect.
When you offer such an omni-channel experience throughout your customer journey, your customers' favorable brand perception is made up across their entire journey with your brand. This is why in many organizations, the CMO - who is responsible for the brand - also owns the customer journey. It's been mentioned more than once that there is an increasing overlap or blurring of boundaries between Marketing and CX.
2) Data goes cross-channel too
Many of us made predictions concerning the centrality of big data in 2015. It's important to keep in mind that the real value is derived from the insights from this data, and not the data itself. The interest in analytics solutions which we've witnessed is a clear reflection that the industry has evolved from the "buzz" of big data, to practical applications which help drive business goals.
3) Self-service will take off
Customers expend much effort tracking their service requests, or finding a solution to a problem they're having. 2015 will see customers becoming less tolerant to being "bumped around" by providers and increasingly adept at servicing their own needs, provided those needs are basic and straightforward. Often, it is simpler for a customer to just go ahead and perform the task themselves. Self-service will gain a lot of momentum this year as it gives customers more control over their task, and is a good option when they value accuracy over their time spent carrying out a task (or tracking a service request).
4) The human touch
Conversely, but not paradoxically, customers still value the human touch. There will be an increase in web chat and video support. When self-service is not enough, or an issue is particularly complex, customers will opt to speak with an agent. Beyond 2015, there are many predictions that we would see more integrated human-robot service, combining the speed and analytical power of technology with human judgment and empathy.
5) The age of AI: Deep learning algorithms and context-rich systems
What about the increasing role that artificial intelligence (AI) will play in customer experience? With the explosion of data, and the powerful analytics used to understand that data, clear understandings must still be derived. Artificial Intelligence will become ubiquitous as key enabler for the delivery of the right information to the right people - at the right time. Autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants and smart advisors already exist and will evolve rapidly, ushering in a new age of machine helpers.
As you can see, there's a lot to think about and a lot of work to be done. Do you agree or disagree with these predictions? Omni-channel experience, cross-channel data, self-service, human touch and artificial intelligence. Do you agree that these are the five biggest CX trends for 2015? I'd love to hear your thoughts!