I am typically not in the business of providing prognostications on the future. It is a bit of a fool’s errand. But it is worth speculating on what might happen in the customer experience arena. After all, there has been increasing interest in improving customer service over the past five years. I think we are beyond the early growth stage and moving into a new stage. Let’s call it adolescence for lack of a better term.
Here are some of the things I see happening:
- Interest in and focus on customer service will grow. After all, consistently great customer service is one of the few truly sustainable advantages left for many companies. Moreover, it is a huge opportunity because so few companies are delivering a positively memorable service experience for their customers.
- The term “customer experience” will replace customer service. When you think about it, customer service seems more like something done to you. Customer experience is something in which you participate (willingly). The difference is subtle but exceedingly important.
- You will not be able to create a positively memorable customer service experience unless you have engaged and motivated employees. The two go hand-in-hand. They are inextricably intertwined. You simply cannot create great service without employees who are willing to do a little something extra to make certain the customer is having a great experience.
- As the above implies, fixing processes alone will not create a great experience. It will help and strong processes will make sure things are done according to a defined process. When they are done they may not be done with a smile or with any particular care. They will be done according to the process, however.
- Those companies that provide great customer experience will further separate themselves from competitors. I am increasingly buying from companies where I can count on great customer service. I am a subscriber to the Motley Fool, an investment advice publication, that I enjoy reading. One of the two authors used the quality of a company’s service and the level of employee engagement to inform his picks for stocks to buy in 2014.
We will see what actually happens. I do think that managers are beginning to understand that creating a positively memorable customer experience takes time, patience, and a new approach to managing employees.
What are your predictions for customer service in 2014?