Is 2016 The Year Businesses Overhaul The Customer Experience – Again?

Shelly Dutton

Customer experience (CX) continues to grow in importance as business leaders find new ways to build their brand. Throughout 2015, most companies pumped increasing amounts of budget and brainpower to improve this strategic area. And although the 2015 CX Index by Forrester showed that this is a strategic priority for 73% of businesses, only 1% of brands are rated as “excellent.”

Luckily, 2016 is expected to bring some new opportunities to boost the rankings of those remaining 99%. According to the recent report  IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Customer Experience and Digital Commerce 2016 Predictions, IDC foresees three trends that will change the customer journey and their perceptions of the brands they consider and choose.

Trend 1: “Buy” buttons will lead third-generation digital commerce

This past year, social giants such as Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have introduced the “buy” button to turn their sites and apps a new sales channel. In a mobile-first world, this approach makes sense – consumers are more likely to shop in an app they’re already using. Although some people may deem “buy” buttons as a way to capture impulse purchasing, it’s really about making the buying process easier and frictionless.

Real-time integration of systems and sales channels prevents frustrating experiences, such as a customer seeing an ad for a product on a social channel and finding it is no longer available on the brand’s e-commerce site. At the same time, companies have an opportunity to connect with customers directly and provide a positive, well-rounded experience all from one channel and experience.

How to capitalize on this trend now: IDC recommends businesses to get ahead of the customer by combining transactional systems, social communities, and commerce data for insight. Also, they should focus on providing customers value in social interactions.

Trend 2: 60% of companies with a CX strategy will appoint a CX executive

Since it was widely thought that marketing had greater access and knowledge about customer behaviors, needs, and preferences, the CMO was typically crowned the resident CX expert. However, the truth is that every organization has a direct line to the customer now that the buying journey touches all areas of the business – regardless of channel, organization, or employee position.

As CX rises in strategic importance, the IDC report estimates that three out of five companies with a CX strategy will appoint a CX executive by 2017. This leader will not only have dedicated resources, but will also be independent of the CMO or other departments.

How to capitalize on this trend now: If you choose (or already have) an executive responsible for customer experience, make sure that person has the authority to make strategic and significant decisions and changes in the customer experience. IDC notes that these executives should assume a staged approach to ensure corporate alignment and make decisions that impact profits over the long term.

Trend 3: 80% of B2C and 60% of B2B organizations will overhaul their digital doorway and fail

This trend is not just about creating a new e-commerce site or revealing new marketing logos, colors, and messaging. It’s about taking all assets and resources a brand uses to interact and serve the customer and determining if it addresses customer requirements. This includes systems, processes, as well as interaction and engagement channels. By not taking all of these things into account, businesses will run the risk of creating inconsistent experiences across channels.

How to capitalize on this trend now: IDC believes that businesses need a firm foundation for process integration. Reimagine sales, marketing, service, and fulfillment so that each function is scalable and consistent while nurturing customer intimacy.

For more insight on the customer experience, see What Is The Customer Experience In A Digital Economy?