3 trends you need to know in customer experience (and 2 that are on the out)

In Customer Experience, Loyalty & CRM by Kevin Kelly

The newest trends in customer service, engagement, experience, and loyalty reinvent branding and marketing.

Every few minutes, new data and fresh opinions bombard and alter the brightest approaches to customer experience. Let's take some time to take a step back and highlight some some of the most important movements—focusing in on three trends that empower both businesses and customers.

1. Mobile commerce

E-Commerce is not the only buzzword: prepare for mobile commerce. How digital is your wallet? Rather, how linked is your smartphone to your payments? The way trends are looking now, your smartphone is set to become your wallet soon. This makes purchases easier for customers and often cuts out any extra fees or the need to carry cash or cards.

2. Big Data means personalization

And what else can your smartphone do? Keep data and lots of it. Not only are you purchasing with your smartphone, but all the information that a company wants to use to create a personal relationship with you is also there. The bigger and deeper the data, the finer tuned customer service experience gets—in other words the rise of social commerce. Payment information and personal preferences merge onto one platform with the transformation of the smartphone into a wallet. Social media allows the customers to easily review a company or customer experience on a public platform. In other words, customer loyalty is built on apps, mobile websites, and in person. Loyalty, then, isn't about being a lifelong customer but a larger end game built on many short term and individualized experiences.

3. Location, location, location

Allow Google Maps to access your location? Click yes, and your favorite shops and suggested new ones will find you before you find them. Location services increase your ability to engage not only with businesses but with also with other customers as you collectively have a customer experience. This also means coupons tailored to you when you need them.

Let's have a moment of silence for two once critical mechanisms of customer service that now are on the steady decline:

  • RIP cash register—as mobile commerce is on the rise, the cash register is slowly being phased out at stores like Apple, Nordstrom, REI and many small local businesses.
  • I enjoy labyrinths but I can't say that customer service call centers are the most delightful of mazes (Sorry, 0 is not an option. Press 1 for…). In fact, I would say they may have caused many frustrated exclamations and by the time a representatives is available, the customer may not be the most cheery. These days may not be over, but there are some important alternatives out there now—Facebook and Twitter conversations give personal and creative customer service. Moreover, instant messaging is often convenient for both customers and businesses.

What are your favorite of these trends? Something to add?

These are the kinds of ideas that will be covered at Loyalty World USA 2013 which is co-located with Big Data World 2013 this October. There will be a roundtable discussion "Loyalty and Mobile—the start of a beautiful friendship" by Barry Kirk, Senior Director of Digital Strategy at Bunchball.

[Image: Thomas Hawk – Flickr]