5 Customer Experience Trends to Watch Out For in 2019
People are people. Meaning, they live and breathe emotions, and no matter which environment or age they find themselves in, feelings will be involved in their decision-making. This is an undeniable reality across industries, hence, the dominance of customer experience on trend lists in the past five years. It’s a top trend that doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon, as evidenced by 81% of marketers saying they’re expecting to compete solely on the battlefields of customer experience in the next couple of years.
So, as 2018 draws to a close, what are the customer experience-related trends to watch out for in 2019?
Rise of Insights-Driven Organizations
With all the available technology to capture and process data, only 10% of organizations are insight-driven. But that’s about to change, as insights-driven businesses are posed to steal $1.2 trillion worth of revenue in 2020. According to Forrester, these disruptors of disruptors have a clear set of goals, which are to win, serve and retain customers. Pioneers of which are Google, Baidu and Netflix.
Key capabilities of an insight-driven organization:
Democratize insights or the ability to not just make insights available across the enterprise via an insight database, but also disseminate and transmit them fast.
Experiment or continuous and iterative learning mindset. It’s a culture of testing and development that is essential for growing and future-proofing the business.
Close the loop or ability to hear and rapidly act on customers’ feedback.
Steady Climb of Automation and AI/ML in Industry Transformation
The groundwork for automation and artificial intelligence/machine (AI/ML) have been set and early adopters are already seeing positive results in terms of revenue and profit. May it be at home or in the workplace, IDC said that 75% of workers have interacted with at least one AI/ML built-in application in 2018 (e.g. Siri, Alexa and Slack/Skype chatbots). In 2019, these AI/ML interactions are expected to level-up to intelligent digital assistants. IDC also predicts that it’s about to move to mainstream industry-wide use to the tune of $77.6 billion worth of spending in 2022.
3 uses of AI/ML across industries:
Robots in retail/hospitality. Softbank’s humanoid-robot Pepper has been test-deployed all over the world to see how businesses can use this AI-powered assistant to serve customers. During its test-runs, Pepper had been a concierge for dealership customers, a hotel check-in assistant, and more. A store in Palo Alto tech shop reported a 70% increase in foot traffic in the week that Pepper was there. In 2019, Amazon is launching its own version, “Vesta”, which might be an evolution of Alexa.
Predictive analytics in manufacturing/supply chain, medicine/healthcare and fashion/beauty. Google attempted to predict the likelihood of a patient’s death using 200 thousand patients and more than 46 billion data points, and came away with an astonishing 95% accuracy. Top makeup brand, Shiseido, used ML to find out what customers might want next and offer truly personalized recommendations. In manufacturing and supply chain, the potential of predictive analytics is enormous. It’s a landscape projected to be worth $9 billion by 2020, as it opens up opportunities in the areas of demand forecasting, pricing, maintenance and after-sales optimization services.
Cognitive intelligence in energy/mining. To ensure seamless autonomous operation and minimize guesswork in port scheduling, transportation, drilling and planning, these industries use cognitive computing. Using an airplane cockpit-like platform, a machine operator gets cues from a system that learns actions and gives real-time feedback.
Not Cloud Overhead, but Everywhere
The projected global public cloud spending for 2019 will reach $200 billion, as enterprises race to upgrade their processes and mine insights out of their piles of accumulated data. According to Forrester, cloud computing will be the foundation of future enterprise applications, as businesses strive to deliver compelling product and customer experiences.
Top cloud trends:
Hybrid/multi-cloud solutions. Businesses are learning that the best cloud solution is a blend of public and private, or as 85% of enterprises prefer nowadays, a mix of at least eight clouds.
Integrated IaaS and PaaS. The growth of the infrastructure-as-a-service (Iaas), which is expected to reach $39.5 billion in 2019 is a direct result of enterprise digital transformation undertakings. But according to Gartner, the days of Iaas-only are numbered, as 90% of organizations that will be buying Iaas will expect providers to have it integrated with their platform-as-a-service (PaaS) by 2022.
Quantum computing. The race is on to come up with the best quantum platform to outdo the world’s fastest supercomputers. Industries such as financial, automotive, pharmaceutical, gaming and even government agencies are very interested in the potentials of this technology. Top players so far are IBM, Google and Microsoft.
Welcome Voice Search/Commerce
By 2020, at least 50% of all searches are going to be through speech, according to Andrew Ng, formerly of Baidu and Google. He also mentioned images, but voice search is fast gaining traction on mobile, especially among the 16-44 year olds. On top of that, the GlobalWebIndex Voice Search Report also revealed that 34% of Internet users are keen on buying a voice-controlled smart assistants.
Implications of voice commerce in marketing:
SEO. Google’s 2013 Hummingbird update uses context and intent/semantic and natural language in delivering results. It’s the perfect foundation for the inevitable rise of voice search. It’s, therefore, important for marketers to survey what their target is using voice search for, so they can adapt their voice ad strategy and content accordingly.
Hyper-local content. Voice searchers are mostly done on mobile, meaning searchers are on the go and intend to go somewhere close when they search. This is the perfect opening for local businesses to increase visibility according to proximity.
Customer experience. Smart speakers are expected to be in nearly 50% of American households by 2019. And as these AI-powered solution learns (it continuously listens), consumers’ experiences with it will be more refined, convenient and enjoyable. For now, 70% of consumers use it mainly to play music, 64% to listen to weather forecast and 53% to get random answers to random questions.
Crown “Video” King of Content
There’s no other content that businesses and consumers, alike, enthusiastically consume more than video, and by 2019, it will comprise 80% of worldwide Internet traffic. This is one of the most controversial trends in the last couple of years, when organizations, mostly publications, made a “pivot to video” influenced by Facebook metrics. But scandal aside, video has proven to be that special vehicle that brings brands closer to consumers through storytelling, evidenced by 93% of marketers using video to boost their campaigns.
So, there you have it. Just five of the most noteworthy customer experience-related trends worth exploring in 2019. And as it’s a new year, it’s always an open door for your business to turn over a new leaf. With all the opportunities presented by new technology, it’s perhaps time for your business to try out something new. As Albert Einstein famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Contentserv Receives an Outstanding Customer Satisfaction Rating in Gartner’s 2018 MQ for MDM Solutions Report
We are delighted to share with you that Contentserv, the Product Experience Platform leader, is recognized as a Niche Player in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Master Data Management Solutions report. Furthermore, they reported that we received an extremely high customer satisfaction rating, with respondents being completely satisfied with the product’s ability to meet the needs of their organization.
In a digital landscape dominated by all things “customer experience,” a recognition by Gartner is equivalent to receiving an Olympic gold medal.
So what sets us apart from the competition? While everyone else offers a standard end-to-end solution for master data and information management, we go above and beyond by zeroing in on what businesses need in order to provide their customers with an unparalleled product experience.
We’re also happy to have received high marks for initial technical implementation and deployment, and that we topped all vendors in the user onboarding and training category. Moreover, we’re elated that our customers repeatedly expressed appreciation for the platform’s user-friendly interface and configuration, and speed of implementation.
“As evidenced by Gartner’s MDM MQ report, we are laser-focused on serving our customers. They are our number one priority. Our goal is to help them be successful and we do this by developing a Product Experience Platform that it is quick to implement, easy to use, and offers the capabilities that exceed our customers’ demands.” Christophe Marcant, Chief Product Officer
Why MDM is the Cornerstone of a Powerful Enterprise Data Strategy
Why MDM is the Cornerstone of a Powerful Enterprise Data Strategy
In the digital age, data ceased to be just a byproduct of business activities to be discarded after it served its purpose. Today, data is the new gold, so valuable it requires not just management, but a serious strategy for businesses to harness its benefits.
What’s the difference between data management and strategy? Think of data as your money that as you’re running a business, you wouldn’t just manage but actually grow. And growing money is an activity that needs a strategy.
As the Internet, social media, mobile and the digital revolution continuously pump data – containing valuable business information – into organizations, it’s almost a crime not to have a strategy to effectively mine it.
What does an effective data strategy entail?
It starts with what your business wants out of data. Generally, a data strategy is created to support the organization’s overall business strategy, which aims to increase profit and market share, decrease cost, differentiate products through innovation and deliver an excellent customer experience.
These can only be achieved through quality information distributed to relevant personnel and applied to the right systems and processes. That’s why data quality management (DQM) is the most important business intelligence (BI) trend for 2019.
So, what are the basics of an effective data strategy?
Identified and defined data. Much like how books are cataloged and organized in libraries, data must also be named, formatted and assigned values.
Storage. Since data is an enterprise asset, the organization’s storage capability must accommodate not just data housing, but also convenient data transferring and sharing between systems.
Rules and access guidelines. To ensure consistent data management, an enterprise-wide data governance rules and policies must be established.
Data processing system. Most if not all data comes into the system raw. Meaning, since they’re from different sources, it’s anticipated that they’ll be in different formats and levels of quality, and must therefore be cleansed and enriched before being sent out.
Quality information or valuable insight, such as granular customer and competitor details should come out of these activities. And once acquired, these insights should be correctly and swiftly acted upon, for example, if certain products are doing well on certain channels and at certain times – then not only should heavier advertisement and promotion be sent that way, but a more focused data mining activity to find out why it’s working and how it can be improved to not only drive sales, but inspire brand loyalty.
How is MDM central to a solid enterprise data strategy?
No matter how good the drawn up strategy is, it won’t work without proper execution. And to execute well, you need a modern master data management (MDM) solution.
Gartner defines MDM as a “technology-enabled discipline in which business and IT work together to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, semantic consistency and accountability of the enterprise’s official shared master data assets.”
It ultimately gives you a single, trusted version of the truth or golden record, which enables you to have a complete picture and a deep understanding of the relationships between the data entities relevant to your business, such as your consumers, products, suppliers, stores, etc.
With MDM, you can:
Ensure data quality.
Assign roles and responsibilities
Establish processes according to your business requirements
Acquire, process and model data from multiple coexisting domains
Share information within your business
Integrate assets/content from different sources
Your enterprise data strategy is your roadmap to fulfilling a long-term goal. An MDM is essential for your journey as it allows you to regularly review and measure your activities, so you can continuously grow and evolve into an organization or brand that constantly transforms to the needs of your consumers.
Content gets the bulk of attention these days when it comes to digital marketing. A quick Google search on content creation will pull up countless articles on blogging best practices, effective strategies, campaign ideas, social media trends, and so on, which can get people to your site. Driving awareness is one thing, but it’s quite another to convert them into paying customers.
When it comes to product content, accurate, complete, consistent and relevant product information is king.
The following are seven ways to produce product content that will excite, engage and convert your audience:
1) Focus on your target buyer and personalize your offering
The competition to sell inventory across the web is fierce. You might only get one shot at selling your product to the right person. If you’re displaying the wrong product you’re out of luck. People aren’t going to click into your site to find the right product if the one in front of them has no bearing on themselves. You have only one chance.
As an example, I have spent the last few weeks exploring new SUVs. Car dealerships in general have figured out that I’m looking for a new car, but some have honed in to the type I’m looking for. This ad happened to catch my eye, while I was casually scrolling through…
According to the 2018 Trends in Personalization report, 98% of marketers agree that personalization boosts customer relationships, while 87% share that they’re experiencing measurable success.
2) Create a compelling story
Writing product descriptions are no different than any content marketing efforts. They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but when it comes to a product, you might need a short description (under 160 words) or long description (under 600 words) next to to the photo to bring it it to life. A coat in a product catalog, for example, is just a coat, until you pair it with an interesting backstory…
As with any piece of content, if people don’t read it it’s a waste of time to write it. The headline should draw your audience in for more.
How to write headlines that people will read? Well, first define which “people”, a.k.a. your target audience. There has to be something in the content for them to continue reading. According to copyblogger, 8 of 10 people will read the headline, but only 2 of 10 will go on to finish the piece. So, for your headline to have the power to grab and hold, it must contain the 4Us: useful, urgent, unique and ultra-specific.
4) Write original copy
Every product is different and when you have an inventory that has hundreds or even thousands of products, writing original copy for each one can be daunting, but it is necessary. Even beyond that, as mentioned in bullet one, writing original product copy for each persona can truly help the content be not only relevant, but persuasive.
Why is original copy important? Because it builds trust. Writing your own product description shows your belief in your product, respect for your customers and trustworthiness.
5) Product rich imagery
If you’re the type of person who spends time in the mountains and need a utilitarian vehicle, not many words need to be written for someone to click…
How important are images for product experience? 75% of ecommerce shoppers say product images strongly influence their buying decision. With images, consumers are instantly connected to the product, so they have the power to make or break the sale. If that’s the case, ensure that you put up high-quality original images as much as possible. It’s even better if you avoid using stock photography, as it will turn consumers off. You could also provide alternate views/angles and zoom. Finally, shoot a contextual shot. Show people how the product would look like on them or let them experience it with their imagination.
6) Have clear and concise descriptions
Original and descriptive copy doesn’t mean you have to write a novel. In fact, as with most text, less is more. As Dr. Seuss famously quoted “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” Or in the case of product content, making a chore of him or her moving on from your product.
Remember that most people today are on the go and using their mobile to read. Not only that, according to a Microsoft study, their attention span has become worse than the proverbial goldfish. From 12 seconds in 2000, it’s down to eight seconds in 2013. Plus, they’re naturally distracted, what with all the choices given them, so it makes so much sense to write a short purposeful copy.
7) Offer additional relevant products
So, you’ve got their attention, so what’s next? Don’t stop there, show them what else they can’t live without. You know who they are now, you know what they want, you have the ability to strike while they’re still on your site.
It doesn’t hurt to offer or suggest items that complement or supplement their purchase. In fact, it’s a known sales technique called cross-selling. Another technique you can use is upselling or when you encourage consumers to upgrade to a more valuable purchase.
The Pivotal Role of Product Experience in Customer Experience Delivery
The Pivotal Role of Product Experience in Customer Experience Delivery
What is product experience? And how can it help businesses succeed in their efforts to provide their customers with a remarkable customer experience?
In 2016, the buzzword in retail circles, “omnichannel”, reached its peak. It dominated conversations at every turn as decision-makers scrambled to find solutions that would enable them to blend all their online and offline touch points, creating a unified and seamless customer experience.
Fast-forward to the present, as more and more companies reach their digital transformation maturity, the conversations are now circling around “on-demand” in which experiences, not channels, reign supreme.
There are, understandably, a lot of theories and strategies out there on how to best provide customers with the best experiences, as there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but there’s one often neglected customer experience component that businesses should start taking advantage of should they want to standout and eventually gain customer loyalty: product experience.
What is Product Experience?
“Product experience”, from the customers’ point-of-view, according to IGI Global, is “the entire set of effects that is elicited by the interaction between a user and a product, including: (1) The degree to which all our senses are gratified (aesthetic experience); (2) The meanings we attach to the product (experience of meaning); (3) The feelings and emotions that are elicited (emotional experience).”
One global brand that deeply understands the importance of product experience in the grand scheme of customer experience delivery is Coca-Cola.
See, the entry of generations Y and Z in the market posted an existential threat to a brand that’s selling an unhealthy product. If they’re not able to effectively market to these huge demographics, a.k.a. their future customers, their product is going to go down. But it looks like Coke isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, because as of 2018, it’s still one of the world’s most loved and valued brands at $79.96 billion USD.
Their secret? Smart positioning. Coca-Cola simply stopped selling Coke as a product, but instead repositioned it as a creator of positive experiences in their advertising campaigns.
This viral video from their “Happiness Machine” campaign is just an example of how Coke is using product experience to support their overall customer experience activities:
But what does product experience mean in digitally-enabled touchpoints?
Let’s take an example from e-commerce. When it comes to browsing or shopping online, a positive product experience (from the customer’s point-of-view) may begin with seeing accurate, consistent and complete product information on their screens.
Say, there’s a customer that wanted to purchase the latest TV model and thought of browsing online for options.
They visited five sites on their laptop and discovered that only three of these sites have complete, accurate, and consistent product information on their product. They eliminated two and are now down to three prospects.
They forwarded the information from these three sites to their partner’s mobile for them to check out in store. Upon arrival to the store, the partner was greeted with conflicting information. One of the brand’s online information is inconsistent with the one in store. It could be the price, feature, promo, etc., but the point is the customer was presented with inaccurate information. The customer eliminated two more prospects and is now left with one brand; the one that took the time out to get all its facts right and available in a consistent manner, online and offline.
The customer makes the purchase.
Because the brand took the time out to give their prospective customers a nice product experience, not only were they able to close the sale, but they’ve also most likely won an advocate. That diligent brand would definitely be top of mind when someone else asks for their recommended TV brand.
But that’s an ideal scenario.
In the real world, what commonly happens is a customer makes a purchase online to take advantage of a sale or a discount, for example, only to find out that they were debited the regular amount.
Here, regardless of the price, the customer would immediately feel that they were wronged and instantly tag the e-commerce site as unreliable and untrustworthy.
What could’ve likely caused the discrepancy?
It could be that the information displayed on the e-commerce site was out-dated. That the sale or promo was only good for a limited time, and customers would be charged the regular price when the period lapsed. Now, whether or not the customer was given a refund, after, isn’t the main issue. The issue is they’ve just been treated to a regrettably negative experience, which not only means no repeat business, but a tarnished reputation. What’s more is this irate customer would definitely tell their community about their bad experience.
Can disastrous outcomes like this be prevented?
4 Product Experience Must-Haves
The product experience arena is winnable. In today’s business landscape, companies who are serious in their customer experience efforts can no longer afford to overlook excellence in product experience, because failure at it could end the customer journey.
So, what are the essentials of a great product experience delivery?
Accuracy – The provision of correct product information is the cornerstone of digital retail, because, simply put, inaccuracy turns customers off, drives businesses away and wastes a lot of money. The true cost of incorrect product information may be unknown, but Americans in 2016 returned $260 billion worth of goods bought online. Although the returns were due to various reasons, one of those reasons could be incorrect or lack of product information.
Consistency – A standard is essential in creating awareness as well as building trust and loyalty. That’s why brands need consistency in messaging, imaging and so on. The same is true with product experience delivery in e-commerce. If a company, for example, has multiple suppliers for a single item and receives information and images in different formats, then a single format must be set and implemented across the board, so what the customer sees is uniformity, not chaos.
Completeness – There is no doubt that customers today are savvy shoppers. They research and line up choices before zeroing in on a product or service. A smart business would provide them with all the information they need in one place and not shy away from letting them know of their offering’s limitations. Businesses need to even go as far as give recommendations or provide education, in the name of great customer service.
Relevance – If customers don’t see exactly what they’re looking for upon landing on a page, they will quickly switch to another. Relevance, here, is a matter of getting straight to the point and not wasting people’s time. Another function of relevance is upselling. By providing customers with suggestions relevant to their search, businesses have a golden opportunity to create awareness and perhaps even close out a (larger) sale.
Customer and Product Experience at 350,000 Transactions Per Second
Singles Day Burns Up the Wires
With “Singles Day” breaking another year of all-time records it’s a unique repeatable situation that stretches the imagination of many commerce organizations. Where the basecamp for this year over year growth success can be found in positive customer and product experiences.
In terms of numbers, last year was already mindboggling with over 800 million transactions in 24 hours. This year the number even excelled itself as more than $31b was generated – of which alone the first 10% in the first 5 minutes! But it doesn´t only refer to a monetary aspect. When you take a look on all this from a technical perspective, just imagine the pressure on the tech stack and the organizations behind all this. Fascinating!
It´s All About the Experience
Not even 10 years ago Alibaba connected the singles day to the commercial success we know today. The year over year growth could only be as successful as it is if the overall customer experience is positive and people get the product experience they are after. Without these two main factors Singles Day would never become as successful as it is today.
Thus, what makes a great customer experience? It’s actually more about the perception that the customer has with the brand. In many of the big commerce hubs like Alibaba, Amazon and local others the customer connects through these hubs because of the brand experience they offer. Where the context of each customer interaction plays a tremendous role in shaping the customer experience. This starts often at the first touchpoints with the brand and ends with the product experience, where if this last point isn’t managed correctly it will get returned.
All that leading to one decisive fact: Managing the product experience is key! How often haven’t we all ordered something online (with and/or without proper vetting the options) only to get disappointed when delivery takes place. Commerce hubs and their suppliers are on the hook for shaping the experience. And offering a contextual product experience can not only create a better customer experience, it can reduce costs greatly.
What happens if you don’t offer a great experience?
Roughly 30% of all orders get shipped back, simple because they don’t live up to the expected product experience – which according to a study from UPS can eat into 20-65% of the costs of an organization. Apart from the financial position, consider the effect on the consumers. Although returning products gets easier every year, as an organization you can only get away with this bad experience so many times before your customer chooses an ecommerce shop that makes good on the end-to-end experience.
Being in Marketing Operations myself with a love for technology on how it can help the business, of course we will take a look at the technology supporting all this. But it comes down to the main following:
Alibaba’s Cloud solution including autonomous scaling
AI and machine learning for display advertising
Several solutions to optimize the customer and product experience, including
AI powered fashion mix-and-match suggestions based on product images and deep product information
Virtual fitting rooms to try the product before purchasing
Over the years Alibaba made full use of futurized technologies, always focused on delivering amazing customer and product experiences. By overdelivering year over year on the experience Alibaba was able to again pull of a smooth Singles Day obliviating previous years and offering a great experience to returning customers and a whole new generation of long lasting new customers.
Data driven marketer with a focus on building and working with a great team. A passion for new marketing technologies and using them to drive business results. Always sees opportunities to increase marketing performance and efficiencies. I enjoy getting to the set (high) goals while maintaining an enthusiastic and motivated team.