Shep Hyken’s words of wisdom for customer experience in 2020

From B2B smart speakers to hyper personalization, customer service expert, Shep Hyken outlines his top CX predictions and advice for 2020

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Shep Hyken

Image of customer engagement strategies in 2020

Customer engagement strategies

Let’s start by evaluating the landscape we have today, how did we see CX mature in 2019?

Hyken: We have seen great strides in the utilization of omnichannel, as an increasing number of customers are looking for convenience and the fastest way to complete an action with the least amount of friction. Similarly, brands are finding out how their customers want to communicate and are making it possible for them.

Omnichannel solutions provide customers with the ability to reach engage with a company through their preferred method, whether that is self-service or through a particular point of contact such as text messaging. This is vital as today’s customers are more demanding than ever. Customers know what great brands are doing to open multiple lanes of communication and they want every business they communicate with to do the same.

In addition to this, personalization is improving. Personalization for a long time meant dropping customers into persona they may not always actually fit into. For example, a company may believe that they have five personas that comprise their customers, and drop their customers into one of these personas even if it did not tell the whole story. Now, AI and data analysis are sophisticated enough to enable brands to move into hyper-personalization. This is when customers are communicated to on a one-to-one basis, not as a group. With hyper-personalization, you gain more valuable data and will be able to predict future intent of individual customers.  

Name one key factor you often see customers clamouring for that brands fail to deliver on?

Hyken: ConvenienceThe concept of improving convenience is becoming more important to companies that are trying to make their customers more loyal. If we ask our customers what would make service better, answers typically comprise suggestions that offer more convenience to the customers. Customers do not focus on things such as special offers and purchase incentives that brands often focus on.

There are six areas of convenience:

  • Friction: Ensuring customers have to take fewer actions to complete a goal.
  • Self-service: More and more customer’s desire channels that puts them in the driver’s seat.
  • Technology: Technology can drive a more convenient experience. Consider how banks have progressed with ATMs, online banking, biometric logins and application based banking.
  • Subscription based models: B2C and B2B companies are adopting subscription based models. What customers like about this format is that they know what service they will receive because they are paying for it regularly. They are paying for an outcome, as opposed to the product itself.
  • Logistical access: This refers to conveniences at the geographic and physical level. 

What technologies are you excited to see take shape in 2020?

Hyken: I’m very excited about the potential of a smart speaker solutions, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, and their incorporation into the B2C and B2B sectors. Improved AI within these devices means that we can now look at how we can integrate this technology into the B2B sector where there is huge scope to add value to the CX. For example, in a manufacturing scenario customers will be able to determine how far along into the manufacturing process their product is, how the product will be shipped and what the delivery timeline is – all through asking their smart speaker.

Companies have the funds for this technology, what they do not have is the buy-in to adopt it yet. Implementation is far simpler with B2C, so as smart speakers become smarter and more ubiquitous in the consumer area, soon, I believe, we will start seeing crossover into the B2B area. It is up to larger B2B type companies to take advantage of what customers on the consumer side are enjoying, and businesses that adopt technology early and give their customers great service will find themselves in a unique position.  

How should brands approach the implementation of newer, more innovative technologies?

Hyken: It is imperative that CX professionals get it right the first time they implement a CX initiative, but that is not always a certainty with innovative CX technologies such as AI-based chatbots, or even mature technologies that your brand is unfamiliar with. In those instances, look at slowly rolling out the solution, testing and making sure that it works. Before implementing, companies should lay groundwork to ensure that customers will be receptive to the change. That will entail talking to customers, receiving feedback, and further testing.

Realize that whatever solution, if it is new to your organization remember your proficiency in using that technology will get better as you experience the roll-out. For the most part, you will struggle to hit perfection right off the bat.

Finally, a piece of CX advice for brands as they enter 2020?

Shep Hyken: One thing I always teach my clients is to look at a company they admire and think about their CX practices. What is it that the company does that your own business is not doing? What is it they do that you love and what is it they do that you can do, via the means at your disposal?

For example, if that company is Amazon, you might like the fact that when you place an order you immediately get an acknowledgement, tracking information, and shipping timelines. When the product is delivered, you are told if somebody else has signed for it, etc. Customers are constantly receiving useful information.

You have already recognized what customers like, so it should be your priority to replicate the experience. All companies should strive for customer service like this.

To read more customer experience related content from Shep Hyken visit his CX Network author profile page.

Image: Photo by Evie Shaffer from Pexels