Customer Experience

6 Customer Experience Predictions for 2019

By Engage Hub expert 19 December 2018

2018 saw many advances in customer experience (CX). From GDPR to the chatbot, technology helped organisations become more customer-centric.

Next year will be no different. In 2019, customer expectations will continue to evolve, and companies who want to stay ahead in this increasingly competitive age will need to adapt accordingly.

But with so much technology out there – and so many avenues to explore – how do you know what to focus on in 2019? These 6CX predictions will help.

1. Customer experience will belong to everyone

In 2018, as more organisations prioritised CX, questions arose over who should be responsible for it. 42% of organisations think it should sit with the CIO or CTO, while 33% believe the CMO should be in charge. And 57% of organisations have created (or are in the process of creating) a dedicated CX team.

But the truth is, no one person or team should be responsible for it. Every department – from sales to marketing to customer service to accounting – interacts with customers in some way, and therefore every department should have a vested interest in CX.

In 2019, we’ll see organisations take a more holistic approach to customer experience, connecting data and ideas from different departments to help make measurable improvements in CX.

2. AI will make CX more personalised…

Over the last year, we’ve seen chatbot technology advance dramatically. Where they were once clunky and frustrating, now customers can have full conversations without realising they’re talking to a bot.

In 2019, we will see chatbots and AI continue to make CX more personalised. Machine learning and predictive analytics will all play a role in giving customers a more tailored experience – particularly in retail. 38% of businesses have already implemented AI, and that figure will continue to grow as the technology becomes more sophisticated, affordable and powerful. We’ll see this in the growth of new messaging channels like WhatsApp – for text and voice alike. And many organisations will be looking to enhance their digital offerings to make them more personal and valuable, as well as inject personality and tone into digital customer service.

From delivering customer service to predicting buying habits to optimising communication, AI will continue to transform customer experience in 2019.

3. …But the human touch will remain crucial

The rise in AI and chatbots will continue alongside a focus on optimising human interaction. Chatbots play crucial role when it comes to fast, convenient resolution of common queries. But nothing can replace speaking to an informed, helpful person when needed. Nearly 60% of businesses view investments in telephony as a priority for 2019, and this reflects the importance of offering that personal touch for more complex issues.

The key: ensuring customers have choice. That way they can access empathetic, human interaction when they need it and can self-serve when speed is their priority.

4. Rich Communication Services and WhatsApp will start seeing higher adoption rates

In 2018, we saw companies start trialling Rich Communication Services (RCS), allowing group messaging as well as video and high-resolution images. Plus, RCS also meant that companies were no longer restricted by character limits.

According to Enterprise Messaging Survey, 94% of companies were looking to use RCS, so in 2019 we’re expecting to see leading brands deliver creative campaigns using this channel – pushing the boundaries to deliver a superior experience for their customers.

And if you’re working internationally, WhatsApp will be indispensable. We wrote recently about the rising importance of WhatsApp for businesses in Brazil, but the popularity is a trend across borders. WhatsApp for Business allows you to interact with customers via text and audio chat – plus it offers tools to help organise, automate and speed up communication. As we look towards the increased interactivity being demanded by customers and fuelled by machine learning and AI, RCS and WhatsApp will be key weapons in your 2019 arsenal.

5. Digital transformation will continue

Digital transformation is a long process. Overhauling legacy systems, training and upskilling employees, and embedding a new culture all take time. That’s why digital transformation will continue to dominate in 2019 (and beyond).

And for good reason. Research by Harvard Business School has found that ‘digital leaders’ have a higher gross margin than their non-digital counterparts (53% vs. 37%). As customers continue to demand digital excellence from businesses, transformation will remain a top priority for businesses that care about CX.

6. Data security and ethics will be at the forefront

The introduction of GDPR in May 2018 signalled the arrival of a new data security-conscious era – but there’s still a long way to go.

As high-profile data breaches and questionable data ethics dominate headlines, organisations will be working to tighten their data security practices and give customers full control and transparency over their data.

How will you connect with your customers in 2019?

Customers have proven time and time again that they want the power to shape their relationship with brands.

And that means companies need to have the ability to evolve in line with expectations and connect on a personal level. The right tools and techniques will lead to loyalty and revenue – and the right culture will ensure a positive CX is intrinsic in everything you do.

What changes are you anticipating in 2019?