Predictions For The Future Of Customer Experience

Jen Cohen Crompton

In the realm of customer experience, today’s consumers are more informed, more collaborative, future of customer experienceand have higher expectations for retailers and lower thresholds for dealing with impersonal, unresponsive companies. Thanks to the Internet and social networks, everyone’s voice, positive or negative, can be heard and companies have the opportunity to provide a more diversified approach to reach their audiences. Within the next few years, this space will continually innovate and things that we never thought possible will become completely possible…and even the norm.

Here are ways the customer experience will be transformed.

1.  What you want to buy will never be out of stock

Smarter supply chains that factor buying behavior and other conditions, such as the weather, into their algorithms will make forecasting easier and will help retailers plan with improved accuracy. Because of the convergence of data, sensors, and predictive analytics in supply chain management, customers won’t experience the disappointment that comes with unavailable products. Also, digital disruption will remove the need for traditional means of assembling user data and will replace it with innovations such as in-store applications that monitor movement, point of service, store traffic management, and in-store promotion. Thanks to these changes in technology, we may never be disappointed by our favorite product being out-of-stock and we can avoid that uncomfortable duel for the ‘last one on the shelf.’

2.  Everything will be exactly what you want

From shoes to shirts to electronics – everything will have the opportunity to be completely customized. At CES 2014, Whirpool showed off some of their new products. They had dishwashers and microwaves with customizable skins making the not-so-attractive appliances appear as personalized pieces of art. And in the fashion world, individualize looks and styles are taking over and retailers are embracing individuality with styles and offerings (leaving cookie-cutter companies that promote one look losing ground). And honestly, if you want something completely unique, like a figurine of your favorite pet, 3D printing makes it possible. With some 3D printing options, you can create just about anything to be exactly as you want. From the 3D scanning photo booth that can create a blueprint of your dog (and print a 3D version) to creating custom products online and sending the specs to a 3D printer, just about everything is in reach. As the cost of the printers decline, these options will become more mainstreamed.

3.  Online purchases are delivered in 30 minutes…faster than a pizza

Could you really get your online purchase in less time than it takes the local pizzeria to deliver your Friday night dinner? Sounds like a dream, right? With last year’s news about the potential of Amazon drones dropping packages at your front door within 30 minutes, we were excited about the speed and opportunities of this service…but then we were quickly schooled on the reality of these flying vehicles and how they could impact the world on a larger scale. On one hand, there is actually a lot of air traffic – just with airplanes, there are between 25,000 and 27,000 flights taking off and landing every day. And on the other hand, drones can serve more purposes than just delivering consumer products. Either way, the concept of drones for daily use may still need some work to operate within regulations, but this in-the-works concept is something that could be a reality sooner than later, and a flying vehicle might get you that last minute delivery before you’ve even closed your laptop.

4.  “Can I tweet your order?”

Want a pizza? Go tweet your order. Need a new shirt? Tweet your style and size. With customer service fully transformed into a multi-level approach forcing companies to power phone lines and tweets, the future is now, and when you want to order something, picking up the phone or heading to a website isn’t the only option. Businesses such as restaurants and hyperlocally-focused services are taking to Twitter and text messaging to manage and respond to customer requests. Companies are using the omnichannel approach to bring convenience into the palms of customers and changing the experience to be as seamless as possible.

5.  Companies use people like you for product design

There is beauty in crowdsourcing and companies embracing and implementing this strategy seem to be reaping the benefits. Tesco, one of the world’s largest retailers, has been championing crowdsourcing and,earlier this year, its online community helped invent the world’s first socially-created wine. The product was shortlisted and the crowd proposed the branding. In an article posted on SAP’s Business Innovation site, Deola Laniyan, account director at Tesco’s social and PR agency, is quoted as saying, “Consumers now have an expectation that their voices will be heard, they want to be more involved in the process and this campaign answers that beautifully.” Other companies who have jumped on the crowdsourcing train with success include Vitamin Water, Doritos, and NetFlix.

6.  There’s something it in for you if you let your favorite brands get to know you

As consumers, we are pretty much walking data generators. From our loyalty cards that we swipe at the supermarket to our online accounts at retailers – we are blatantly sharing information about our habits to retailers who are using the intelligence to tailor their offerings and marketing messages. As a result, retailers will continue to collect, store and use data, which will result in two things – more of what we want and less of what we don’t want. As we continue to consume and reap the benefits of retailer data collection, we as consumers, will have to decide what we really want and determine if we appreciate the relevant marketing or want to pay a price to keep our data private.

7.  The weather, demand, availability, and YOU can make prices fluctuate by the minute

We all know that as oil prices increase, our pockets eventually feel the pain at the pump as we get less for our dollars. But we often expect this price change and are willing to pay to power our vehicles. So what about companies changing the prices of shovels during a snowstorm? This isn’t just merely an Economics 101 case of supply and demand, but now, with the ubiquity of connectivity, vendors are suddenly able to use algorithms to change the pricing of their goods and services at a moment’s notice. This works well for retailers who can dictate their prices and change in an instant, and it can actually be beneficial for consumers who are willing to pay that perfect price for that perfect product or service. It’s a personal demonstration of price equilibrium and we need to remember that in a networked economy, consumers have all the power.

8.  Shop, buy, and return: Automation takes over retail stores

Ever hear of the cupcake ATM? Or have you ever purchase something from the Best Buy Express vending machines? These hyped-up vending machines are examples of automated retail and fall into the category of self-service shopping, which is a popular way to provide convenience at places such as airports, malls, and resorts…and even the street corner in NYC. There are also supermarkets and other retailers adding automation to their in-store experience, which is allowing customers to check out sans a cashier and complete other transactions on their own. As these machines and automated practices become more connected and intelligent, the full customer experience, from purchase to service, could be automated to deliver a superior, self-serve customer experience.

9.  Keeping your personal information private may cost you

With the understanding that we create data all day long and offer it up to ecommerce companies, brick and mortar stores, mobile devices, and wearables tracking our athletic performance, there are some companies capitalizing on the trend of being privacy-friendly. For example, Mozilla, a presumed underdog in the browser market, suggested that it would allow its users to disable third-party tracking software altogether. And search engine DuckDuckGo promotes the same advantage – no tracking. So with all this data floating around and all these companies jumping at the chance to capture some, consumers will begin gravitating toward companies that offer privacy, even if it’s for a premium.

10.  In-store shopping becomes as intelligent as online shopping

With e-commerce, consumer behavior data is as easy to track as web analytics, which let retailers know exactly where a customer is coming from, what he or she is doing when they are on the site, what that same shopper purchased in the past…and even where they go after they leave the site. Thanks to the information online shoppers “give away,” ecommerce sites create experiences that use algorithms to make suggestions (to upsell and cross-sell) for product purchases. This same experience can be duplicated by offline retailers as they strive to make stores more intelligent and understand consumer behavior within a physical space. Bonobos, a men’s retailer, is taking on that challenge with their showcase stores. These 1000-square-foot storefronts give a customer the ability to touch and feel the products while an associate guides him through the shopping process, creating a personalized and exceptional customer experience. During this process, the store captures customer behavior and, through human interaction, suggests products and converts the opportunity to a sale. And, with the blending of offline and online data via social check-ins and apps like Foursquare’s Swarm, the store associate can become that much more informed before the initial conversation.

Omni-channel retailing is not about replicating a single experience across channels. It’s about optimizing each unique experience through a variety of channels. Learn more in this new insights report from ARC.

Get involved in the conversations on the Future of Business and read, watch and learn about how the customer experience will be impacted by technology, consumer needs, and data, and continue to transform.


About Jen Cohen Crompton

Jen Cohen Crompton is a SAP Blogging Correspondent reporting on big data, cloud computing, enterprise mobility, analytics, sports and tech, and anything else innovation-related. When she's not blogging, she can be caught marketing, using social media and/or presenting at conferences around the world. Disclosure: Jen is being compensated by SAP to produce a series of articles on the innovation topics covered on this site. The opinions reflected here are her own.

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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.


About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

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The Importance Of Leadership On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Charmian Solter

Here at Switch & Shift we strive to illuminate effective leadership practices. We pride ourselves on creating cutting-edge solutions for employee engagement, communication, and creating company culture, to name a few.

Why are these topics so important? Well, according to The Importance of Employee Engagement infographic by NBRI, courtesy of Brandon Gaille, if leadership doesn’t step up and affect change and build trust and engagement, their employees will be busy doing anything but work while on the job! This infographic says it all.


For more on developing more engaged, loyal, and productive workers, see How Empowering Employees Creates a More Engaged Workforce.


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