Customer expectations reached an all-time high in 2018. With businesses’ improved capacity for technology and access to data, consumers now expect brands to anticipate their needs and use that to create personalized interactions. While 67 percent of consumers have stated that their standards for good experiences are higher than ever, many consumers are now willing to pay more for better service and care more about experience than they do about price, as stated by CEO Mark Hurd.

Businesses have no choice but to make customer experience (CX) a top priority. Now that we’re a month into the new year, it’s high time to formulate your brand’s CX strategy. To help facilitate the process, we’ve gathered a few tips and trends to expect as 2019 continues to unfold.

customer experience

Omni-Channel Experiences

Omni-channel CX refers to a multi-channel approach to serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience regardless of how or where a customer reaches out. Consumers have shifted from mere desktop interactions to using mobile, tablets and wearables to communicate, so brands must set up an omni-channel experience their customers can access whenever they want or risk falling behind competitors.

Not only will the implementation of omni-channel CX improve integration and marketing efforts, but customers will also be able to interact with sales and support staff over their preferred channels, including social media. Social messaging applications such as Instagram direct messages and Facebook Messenger will likely see an increase in usage for this purpose in 2019. Additionally, as the Internet of Things grows in connectivity, consumers will soon be able to connect with brands via TVs, appliances and cars.

Heightened Personalization

Hand in hand with omni-channel CX, technology has given consumers control of their brand interactions. Companies can no longer solely rely on products and services to maintain their competitive edge; they must also excel in accessibility, innovation and overall experience. Creating personalized experiences for individual consumers has become essential in today’s ecommerce world. Fortunately, machine learning technology has made meeting those demands an achievable task.

customer experience

According to RedPoint Global CEO Dale Renner, the future of personalization means the end of inefficient practices. Cumbersome printed receipts, for example, will be replaced with digital options delivered directly to the customer through their preferred digital channel, intelligently generated based on previous purchase history, shopping habits and intent. Through improved accessibility to insightful data, brands will be more capable of understanding shoppers’ individual needs and the best way to meet them.

customer experience

Immersive Experiences

Over the past year, augmented reality (AR) has excited companies of all industries with the vast array of possibilities it presents. By bringing a product or service to life with interactive experiences, brands are able to demonstrate their offerings in a whole new light.  

Utilizing AR technology, consumers can test out products from a real-life viewpoint before deciding on a purchase. Beauty and home improvement brands alike are taking advantage of AR to help customers make more informed purchase decisions. L’Oréal, for example, is experimenting with an AR service that allows shoppers to “try on” new makeup colors and looks. Meanwhile, Lowe’s offers an app that allows shoppers to envision what new furnishings or a remodel might look like in their home.

Improved Data Ethics 

The ways in which businesses handle data across their supply chain, including collecting, aggregating, sharing, analyzing and storing, all amount to data ethics. 2018 was a monumental year for data management, as attention was brought to growing data privacy concerns and preparations for potential future data breaches. Much of that attention came about as a result of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

At the rapid speed in which technology has begun to affect aspects of our daily lives, there’s greater risk of personal information falling into the wrong hands. In response, businesses going forward will place a greater emphasis on paying close attention to data ethics and ensuring the safety of their customers’ data. With the massive surge in ecommerce over the past few years, that focus will prove invaluable for consumers.

All in all, customers want to be treated with respect and know that the businesses they patronize work hard to provide valuable products and services as well as excellent customer service. While technology is an instrumental aspect in improving your customer experience, it shouldn’t be your sole focus. Never underestimate the power of a real conversation, and always seek out feedback from your customers. With all that in mind, you’ll be on your way to another successful year!