Take your phone out of your pocket and have a quick look at it, and now compare it to a similar phone from 5 years ago, it won’t even be a competition. Even if you have the latest high-end phone from the biggest brands, it will still be obsolete. So why do I bring this up other than to make you feel bad about just spending £1,000 on a phone? It’s to show that technology makes massive strides in just a few years and unless you are observant and change with it you can left behind. So with the brand new year of 2019 underway I will tell you how the customer service and the customer experience areas of business will change and how can you get ahead of these changes to get an early advantage over your competitors.
1. The Power of AI combined with the Human expert.
In the past few years AI has grown massively to the point that it is in a lot of major stores and even people’s homes, you don’t need to be concerned about AI replacing humans just yet but we are getting closer to that scenario. AI is at the stage where it can be extremely helpful to employees, being able to gather and store a massive amount of information about the customer such as their demography, their past purchases or any past issues such as missed payments. The sales member can then give context to this information and use it to provide better customer service and enhance their experience making them want to continue shopping at this store. An example of this Is getting the customers previous purchases and demographics then using the AI to compare them to other similar customers so the salesperson knows what products or services cross-sell them they are likely to buy.
2. Mobile cements itself as the king.
With 52% of all online traffic coming from mobile and 79% of all smartphone users having made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months it is clear that mobile is the dominant way to shop online. Apps offered another great advantage for businesses as they prevented customers from being distracted by other ads or quickly going to competitors’ websites. With the mobile trend showing no signs of stopping you want to make sure your businesses is just as accessible on customers mobile devices as it is on their laptops and computers. Go through your website on as many different mobile devices as you can and see how good it looks and how easy it is to find what you are looking for, if it takes more than a few seconds you will be risking alienating over 50% of all your websites traffic.
3. Being everywhere becomes the standard.
There are so many different channels to communicate with your customers now from Facebook to Instagram to more recent additions like Snapchat, but which do you use in 2019? Customers don’t care about what the “best” social media is they just care about what is best for them, for some it will be a standard phone call, others may talking to a chatbot on your website. With people rapidly swapping from one social media to the other and having accounts on multiple make sure your customers get every chance to see your business and communicate with you in the way they want. Make sure you also keep an eye out for new social media platforms like Vero which launched in 2015 and quickly gained popularity with 530 Million Instagram posts using the #vero. Getting ahead of the trend and solidifying your presence on these platforms can gain you a massive amount of new customers while making it harder for your competitors to get a hold in the new platform and emulate your success.
4. Personalisation becomes essential
Have you ever been thinking about buying a new 4K TV then while browsing through Facebook or a website saw an ad for 4K TVs, it’s scary but also quite impressive how they knew so much about you. It grabs your attention and is a breath of fresh air from the 1000's of ads you scroll through daily that you ignore because you have no interest in what they are selling. With the massive advancements in AI to gather customer data and comparing them with similar customers to create groups, it has never been easier to recommend products to customers that they are likely to purchase. Customers are still getting surprised by seeing ads for products they want, so make sure you tap into this gold mine while you can before it becomes the standard and the value is taken by your competitors.
5. Self-service is now standard service
Fast food, supermarkets and even Banks. Most big stores have some form of self-service but will it be taking over regular service and should you start firing your employees to get a computer instead? While self-service is extremely popular it hasn’t replaced real service just yet, it has become a good alternative to it which some people will expect when shopping. Make sure for 2019 your store has at least 1 self-service option to appeal to the large portion of customers that don’t want to talk to anyone and just quickly get their products.
6. Customer demand a certain experience…
80% of shoppers used a mobile phone inside of a physical store to look up product reviews, compare prices or find alternative store locations in 2018. But even though some businesses have great reviews for both their products and the store itself they still aren’t getting sales, well in 2019 this isn’t enough anymore as the game has changed. Customers are now comparing your service with some of the best services they have ever had, they will no longer accept standard or even good service anymore. So many companies go above and beyond to keep their customers happy, so ask yourself which companies you really enjoy doing business with and why, what can you do to be more like them? Having a great customer experience doesn’t just mean not having any problems during purchases, it also means that any potential problems are minimized and dealt with quickly making the customer truly feel the company did the best they could for them, valuing them as a customer.