Good sales and marketing, quality control, pricing, customer service and after-sales all help businesses to generate sales. But good customer experience (CX) creates customers for life.
These are super fans who will buy from you simply because you’re you - even acting as brand advocates and champions among their community and peer groups.
The key to CX is maximizing the effectiveness of all of these factors at every stage of the customer journey. In 2024, CX will continue to take on new meaning as it becomes a strategic priority for all businesses. Here, I highlight the ten key trends that will drive it.
Generative AI In CX
Though massively hyped, generative AI is still relatively new to the business toolbox and over the coming year, more organizations will start to understand exactly where it can bring value. In terms of CX, it has endless potential uses, from generating dynamic marketing campaigns and personalized user guides to streamlining customer service and gaining deeper insights into customers and loyalty by analyzing behavioral data. Maintaining transparency and honesty in the way it’s used will become increasingly critical to winning and retaining customer trust.
Subscriptions Get Smart
The shift towards subscription services enables businesses to nurture ongoing relationships and drive up lifetime value. But businesses are learning that the potential goes far beyond one-size-fits-all offerings. In 2024, more businesses will invest in leveraging AI and advanced analytics in order to create tailor-made offerings at dynamic price points and individualized levels of service. Customers who engage less and consume fewer resources can be offered lower prices, while super-fans can be rewarded with VIP bonuses to help them understand how special they are to the business.
It’s accepted that today and going forward into 2024, customers will willingly pay higher prices for good experiences. Rather than racing to the bottom in terms of price, more companies will compete to offer richer, frictionless, more rewarding experiences. Building CX strategies that increase metrics such as average order value and customer lifetime value will be a priority for CX-focused businesses in 2024.
Omnichannel isn’t just about connecting across as many channels as possible in 2024. The concept of meeting customers where they are becomes more dynamic, offering customers a consistent channel of communication without having to repeat themselves or risk disclosing personal information at multiple touchpoints. Customers seeking help will no longer find it acceptable to have to give their story to a chatbot, then to a customer service agent, and then again to technical support. More companies will leverage smart authentication and CRM tools to track interactions across the growing number of channels that are available.
The Rise Of The Synthetic Customer
The trend for creating synthetic customers touches on several key technology trends, including generative AI, data privacy and the concept of the digital twin. This enables companies to model their behavior, predict where pain points will arise on the customer journey, and predict the best path towards an optimal outcome. Customer personas are nothing new, but in 2024 they are informed by real-time data including live transaction data and social media sentiment, meaning they are more useful than ever when it comes to generating insights into real customers.
Customers increasingly prefer to do business with companies that can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, and factoring this into CX will become a priority. In 2024 it will become more common to see companies giving information about their environmental footprint, and what they are doing to offset or mitigate damage, as part of the customer journey. This helps customers to feel reassured that they’re making ethical consumer choices.
Having your customers’ personal data stolen and sold on the dark web doesn’t make for great CX. We know people are happy to hand over information in exchange for a good time and great memories, but that bond of trust breaks down quickly if it isn’t used safely. Accessible and transparent data and privacy policies are an essential element of CX, with 63 percent of customers saying they are happier dealing with businesses that make it easy to see how their data is used.
Chatbots That Enable Rather Than Annoy
We’ve all had annoying experiences with chatbots in the past. Frustratingly, businesses, having made investments in earlier iterations of the technology and possibly already reassigned human staff, have sometimes been slow to rectify these issues. Chatbots powered by generative AI can answer questions more quickly and accurately in a way that's relevant to customer requirements. Hopefully, this means that in 2024, the days of the limited, clumsy and inaccurate customer service chatbot are numbered!
Creating experiences that capture and engage customer attention in new ways will continue to be key to providing memorable experiences. This could include leveraging cutting-edge technological innovations like virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) or experiential marketing activations like those used by Warner Bros to lift the 2023 Barbie movie to the status of a cultural phenomenon. Customers want to do business with companies that leave them with great memories, and creative immersive experiences are key to this in 2024.
Sentiment analytics enables businesses to track and react to the emotional state of customers at each stage of their journey. This can be used to drive experiential decisions, such as whether to engage via automated channels or whether a situation requires the human touch. Knowing whether a customer is excited about their new purchase or frustrated due to poor service means you can make a better decision about whether it's the right time to ask them to leave a review or reach out to make amends. A deeper, more dynamic understanding of how sentiment affects loyalty, satisfaction and advocacy scores will be core to CX strategies in 2024, helping to build stronger and longer-lasting relationships.