Guest blog: Are You Listening? Here’s what customers really want in 2019 – Rebecca Martin, CMO at Calabrio

We’re in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution. Thanks to technology like the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), the digital, physical and biological worlds have converged. Not only is technology changing the way people interact with each other, it’s shifting how companies communicate with their customers and it’s evolving the entire customer experience. Today’s customers expect better, faster, more personalised service—and it’s imperative that businesses—and marketers—deliver.

To maintain competitive edge and meet changing customer expectations, marketers are rushing to adopt new solutions. In 2017, 61 per cent of businesses implemented AI solutions, up from 38 per cent in 2016. However, in the coming year, customers will want even more from companies. And it won’t be from the tech stack. Customers want to be heard, and in 2019, companies will do a better job listening.

A recent report revealed what customers really want in a digital world, and the findings are clear. Customer loyalty is driven by human nature. In fact, 71 per cent of customer survey respondents confirmed emotion will be a more important part of the customer experience in 2019. For marketers, this means digging into how customers think, feel and behave—and using that information to design meaningful, relevant experiences.

In the new year, marketers will take a step back and learn to engage customers in the right way, at the right time and on the right channel. By doing so, not only will they finally build an emotional connection with customers; they’ll be rewarded with brand loyalty. Here’s what smart marketers will do to build personalised, longstanding relationships with customers in 2019:

 

Strengthen the foundation

In the new year, smart marketers will analyze the customer journey and consider new technology in order to identify ways to gain competitive edge. But, to earn loyalty, it’s important that companies go back to the basics. Customers want a great product or service, and 61 per cent say that this is the best way to earn their allegiance. If companies can’t deliver on their brand promise, there will be no chance to create emotional connections with customers. However, by listening to post-purchase support conversations in the contact centre, companies will have access to real-time feedback to make vital changes to their products or services.

Beyond that, capturing customer loyalty comes down to how companies innovate, and marketers will rethink technology to ensure a proper foundation for long-term success. Seventy-six per cent of customers think that technology helps create a good experience, but they must see the benefit. Forty-eight per cent only think innovation is important if it improves customer service. In the coming year, more companies will evaluate customer communication channels to make sure they map to current customer experience goals and strategies. From there they can determine which channels help—or hurt—the emotional bonds they’re trying to build.

 

Place humans front and centre

Customers want quick and easy ways to get in touch, and 79 per cent think interacting with a human versus a chatbot or digital self-service channel is an important part of good service. But technology can’t build connections the way humans can, and digital self-service options aren’t always the easiest or most convenient way for customers to find a resolution. The numbers speak for themselves: 74 per cent of customers are more loyal if they can speak to a person and 50 per cent said companies earn their loyalty by listening–and taking action–when they complain.

In 2019, more marketers will realize the value of contact centre agents and place them at the centre of customer experience strategies. They’ll look at agents as critical to keeping the brand promise, from pre-purchase questions to post-purchase support. By mapping the customer journey and giving customers the option to easily connect to humans along the way, businesses will build loyalty that goes far beyond the new year.

 

Leverage listening tools

To really hear what customers are saying, companies must be listening across all channels, all the time. In 2019, more organisations will leverage analytics to monitor the entire customer journey across channels, informing marketers about human behaviour. With speech analytics, they can analyze conversations in the contact centre to get to the heart of customer sentiment. When conversation insights are married with data from chat, email, social and other channels, it paints a complete picture of what customers want. With these insights, marketers can make customer experience adjustments, they can also equip and empower their customer service teams with robust training in brand messaging so they, in turn, can offer the right experience every time.

In the coming year customers will expect more, and organisations should respond by truly listening to what customers are saying. For marketers, having access to customer insights across touchpoints will not only equip them to build brand loyalty with customers, it will change the customer experience, as we know it.

 

Rebecca Martin is  CMO at Calabrio

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