Everyone wants to look into the future: if you know trends, this allows you to make the right decisions today. But there are no guarantees, what is relevant in the US and European markets may not be valuable for the Ukrainian consumer. For example, avoiding personal service, replacing human labor with machines and bots will not be emotionally acceptable for all Ukrainians, and the business will not want serious investments with an unclear prospect of making money. What trends to bet on? Should Ukrainian business be guided and inspired by the samples of the West and ideas of the East? Or is it enough just to run through the eyes of the main fashion trends, but to rely on the knowledge of your consumer in the strategy and the true causes of the customer loyalty? Everyone decides for himself.
Our task in the article is a review of conflicting trends in 2019. If during the last year in a similar review, the trends were divided into 2 groups, trends in customer service and in working with employees; then in 2019 it is no longer possible to ignore the power of technology. Therefore, below there are already 3 groups of trends in customer experience 2019/2020.
But first, let’s talk about the main features of the past 2 years. The largest one, perhaps, is the non-standard, contradictory, contrast of the service models and solutions. For example, the rapid and aggressive introduction of innovations, openness to experiments and new solutions are the distinctive features of service in Ukrainian, which are surprisingly combined with the often archaic or unreasonable, emotional actions of a business. Thus, in the gas stations chain, along with contactless payment systems, modern displays and perfect design, there is manual queue management, the need to repeat an order several times and show a receipt in the dispensing area. And the medical centers with the cost of equipment in the tens of thousands Euros, there is still a double record for the same time, erroneous diagnoses and reassignment of drugs. At the same time, business investments are directed to the creative dishes, the purchase of fresh flowers and training for team building.
Therefore, it is possible that the service quality, manufacturability and expansion of Internet capabilities, service speed, competence, professionalism, ease of receiving services become the main request for the service quality in 2019 according to 4ServiceGroup* research (see graph). Often declared emotions, human contact or personal approach in this parade of expectations of the Ukrainians did not make it to the top 6 leaders.
In the future, the consumer expects high stable quality and lightness, for which he is ready to vote with his wallet. The time of impulsive experiments ends: the creative is appropriate for a well-built foundation.
* This study was conducted in October-December 2018 in the form of a telephone and on-line survey, over 330 people took part. Respondents were asked to choose the main attributes of the service in the country and predict the future of service, current features and the trends in 2019
The race for the fashion and the trends can be dangerous or in vain: implementation without adaptation to the needs of the market and the audience can be a waste of money and time.
The trends listed below may be of interest to every entrepreneur. But to use them in 2019 strategies, the tools for implementing ideas must be fully adapted to the target audience of a particular business. All innovations should undergo approbation/testing, results should be evaluated and only then the decisions are made. For example, the monetizing of the customer feedback or omni-channel will look different in a retail electronics store or restaurant. How and how often to interview the customers, what to offer for a completed application form or a survey (bonuses for the next purchase, accessories, extra drink to the menu or a bun) – you should always decide on the spot, looking at your customers and your business. There are no standard solutions, but the risk of error is high.
The time of active clients and free polls has gone. The client appreciates time and is tired of “your opinion is valuable to us.” Questionnaires for 50 questions that take 10 or more minutes of time remained in 2017. Banks, airlines or large online sellers are still falling asleep in boxes and phones with messages, requests for feedback, calls and pleas; the polls have even increased in the volume. It’s clear: 2 years ago, thanks to large data arrays collected from the real customers after each transaction, the largest banks in the country, clearly identified the problems in the service and quickly fixed/corrected the problems with the product or service, immediately getting the advantages in karma and KPI
But the consumer is tired. It ignores the polls, skips letters, does not read the text, and blocks calls. It is high time to pay for the feedback: rewards, bonuses, gifts, and here and now, and not there and then, discounts, additional services. It’s time for creativity – how to seduce a customer to express your opinions honestly, how to buy his time and attention? This question will be a trend in 2019.
The right to use personal data of the client will be even more acutely claimed. If in the Eastern Europe, the accuracy and the scrupulousness to their personal data is not yet valuable, but the Western world hides and protects its personal space: it is time for the digital signatures, visual identifiers and contactless payments, the phone number became a financial identifier. The safety and privacy of personal data is a matter of financial security for a European. For the right to send SMS, write emails or call the customer, the business must now fight. And it always loses, because any intrusive message will become the basis for the blacklist. Value and monetization of personal data – this is the trend probably for 2020.
Of course, medium and small businesses are modestly silent aside. There it is often out of the question about a 100% customer survey, rather, it is a expecting fear of a complaint or claim. For such a business, the time to pay for the customer’s opinion has not come yet; the requirement “hear your customers” is relevant here. A beautiful and simple example in this area is to persuade a customer to give us a feedback. For example, through Amazon, I bought a simple, inexpensive bright umbrella. A couple of days later, a touching letter came from the owner of an umbrella shop: “Madam, we are a small business, thanks for supporting. We are trying so hard, dreaming to develop, but without you we can’t move forward. Help us reach the peaks and touch the stars – rate us as a seller for 5 points on AMAZON and write if you liked our umbrella. We are waiting for your any opinion, be happy.” I did not respond to the letter, I save my time and didn’t like simple manipulations, but maybe I would respond to a more attractive appeal and bonus. Let the “small business” work in this direction.
It is almost not fashionable to talk about multi or omni-channel. For 10 years, it has been on the crest of requests and goals, but it has been possible to build a clear service system at all points of contact with the client and in all channels.
Part of the business went in the direction of expanding of the funnel channels: they become to be multiplied in social networks, round-the-clock phone/email support, bots were actively involved in the service, but the centers were remained with live consultants.
Other companies drove their customers into one channel (they removed the opportunity of personal call, reduced the site’s work to the answers to popular questions, and hid the contact details of the office or service center in small letters below), optimizing costs and saving resources.
As often happens, business actions are not always consistent with the expectations of the consumer. In Ukraine, in 2018, 63% of customers expect to be supported on social networks, and only 35% of customers prefer to receive it through the other channels. But the situation is unstable; tomorrow, for example, Google can become a point of contact for consumers and businesses. After all, when a request arises, the client’s hand can habitually type/or dictate a search query without bothering to enter pages, websites, or typing long texts to bots. In 2019, omnicanality may turn into a choice of 1-2 main communication channels, but reliable, fast and accurate one. And there will definitely be a place for Internet space, as well as for live contact, personal meeting or conversation.
According to the NBU, the share of non-cash operations in Ukraine amounted to 44.1% in the first half of 2018 (by 11.6% more than in 2017). Calculation without cash is convenient; it reduces time and effort.
Global trends clearly confirm this alignment: the countdown went on clicks. How many touches do we need to get a service from you? 15 or 2? The interesting American tool for measuring the efforts of the customer (Customer Effort Score) did not become popular in the European space in 2011, but it is now possible to acquire a new breath. The value of a recommendation, review, friend’s advice or a high rating when buying (which is measured by the ubiquitous Net Promoter Score) can be destroyed by an inconvenient payment procedure, the need to fill out documents, wait, contact a dozen employees, etc.
The service without touch, easy, friendly, understandable at first glance, intuitively attractive – such requirements are put by business in 2019. The consumer is excited in anticipation, even ready to test, give his comments, be included in the game for the sake of further simplicity and convenience.
The trend is gaining momentum, but its signs are everywhere: companies are fighting for speed and fighting the queue, looking at Customer Journey to reduce the customer steps and clicks, testing the clarity of applications for smartphones, website usability, improve payment systems, introduce racks and self-checkout counters, develop navigation, call for bots 24/7, etc. .
How many times in the last week have you received the lucrative offers: on the phone, by email mail or through many instant messengers or applications? You need to be a sophisticated cleaner to protect yourself from the spam sellers and the flow of marketing tricks. They crawl through the unauthorized SMS, private social network space, through the reminders, pop-up windows on sites, often unsuitable, but targeted commercials for you, “catching up” aggressive letters like “Oh, you did not make an order, maybe you are also interested in a cover for umbrella and vacuum cleaner” and others. I have not lived in Ukraine for more than 3 years, but this is nothing before the power of marketing newsletters of a fitness club, a perfume store or a bank where I had an account. Carpet total marketing everywhere: we are bombarded with the unsuccessful and irrelevant sentences. Such obsessive strategies lead to disastrous results: the destruction of loyalty, irritation, complaints, refusal from mailing. But this does not mean that marketing should not be.
Maybe in 2019, the sales strategies are finally evolving from a strong Neanderthal to an intelligent Cro-Magnon. Behavioral and psychographic segmentation (by lifestyle) crowds out the demographic, social. Some Companies work not with the target audience, but with the persons. Consumption becomes rational, conscious, skeptical, intelligent, with a high need for security and data protection. Database analytics, accurate selection of minimum client information (for example, a loyalty card no longer requires a surname or address), a metered smart offer, patience, but a mandatory presence in the client field, with a possible slight spike in the season – such actions are the future. Do not offer marble cutting to the vegetarians, but just say about the received avocado, recall butter, which runs out (having information in the database that a customer buys butter, for example, once a month), personal respect, memory of previous order history and preferences – and the client is already yours.
Public and social trends in 2019 will powerfully live actively in business communications. Companies think about the values and emotions of the different groups of clients in accordance with the trends of tolerance and open opportunities. There is an expansion of the target audience through the various new groups: children of different ages and interests, people with diseases or disabilities, migrants, religious communities, community groups from animal advocates to beer lovers.
Such a step towards the target audience leads to confusion and change of the previous service standards. Fashion brands go to provocative collaborations with sports brands, teens of 13 years old become the desired Gucci audience, and this gives a rise to the new styles of communication with the client. For example, in the Austrian stores of fashionable youth brand clothes, the style of communication between young sellers and their customers is exceptionally friendly, slang, they talk about music and gear, they are part of the hippbist culture, and they quote the same bloggers.
For the sake of commitment, emotional connection and loyalty of their customers, the companies are increasingly choosing the socially important motivating topics in their positioning: personal development, new opportunities for all, overcoming borders and conquering new horizons, challenges, alternative solutions, creativity, freedom, etc. Ecology and healthy lifestyles still remain in the mainstream. For example, a massive refusal of plastic packaging by a legislative wave goes across Europe and Asia; the consumers pay more for the “Eco” and “Bio” inscriptions on the packaging, young people actively choose products marked “Fair trade”, etc.
For customer experience, mirroring is typical. To improve service for an external customer, you need to ensure the customer loyalty is internal. The impact of an employee on the level of service is direct, and the increase in staff loyalty by 1% leads to an increase in customer loyalty by 0.5% (ICS data, London, 2017). You can fight for such a jackpot, but how? The development of employees requires serious investments without guarantees, the turnover is high, the motivators of employees are not clear, and the prospects are vague. All the more interesting trends.
The time has come for liberation from human labor in many areas of work. In the XIX century, the industrial revolution replaced people with a machine in the production of goods; today robots replace people in the provision of services. Cash desks without cashiers, automatic machines for recalculation of small money and delivery of change, panels for independent search for information about a product, receiving a parcel without an employee, chat bots and virtual assistants on the phone. Robots are getting smarter and can already show the emotions and joke. Researches made by the British Institute of Service ІСS claim that the artificial intelligence has already reduced millions of jobs, but the estimates of this process are divided: 26% of the employees interviewed say that AI has led to the job losses, and 28% said that AI also created new opportunities for the staff.
For the business reality, these processes are extremely promising: reducing efforts, simplifying actions, reducing the number of “clicks” to obtain the necessary service, predictable behavior of bots and systems gives a strong impetus to development and standardizes processes. Business can be excluded from the risks of “human factor” at least in simple stages. But the challenge of such a decision is the need for large investments and time for the innovation.
Robots do not solve everything: sometimes they complicate the process, break down and create barriers. At Kyiv Boryspil Airport, the only automatic gate on passport control is accompanied by an officer who explains the door restrictions for the passengers (they do not know how to identify children yet); in the Port of Vienna the automatic scanners already take the luggage, but there are 2 employees in red standing and instructing. The work of the electronic queue or automatic ticket office for a few more years will be duplicated by a friendly person who will solve the problem, answer the question or show how to use the robot. And in some cases, the need of living people in the service will be always: a complaint, a complicated procedure, multilingual communication, negative emotions, emergencies, health risks, services for children or the elderly – anything that goes beyond the standard algorithm requires the human participation.
In addition, for many customer segments, emotion, support, interaction, communication, information sharing will remain a service value. People do not apply for the result, but for the process: shopping or service bring joy. Therefore, employees who may be business personalities will always be in value. But to determine the point of contact where the robots are needed and where people are, it will be a challenge for business in the coming years.
The focus on personal interaction and the customization is also the feature of Ukraine – the customers appreciate and are willing to pay for the openness and attentiveness of staff, simple speech, avoiding scripts and template phrases, flexible standards depending on the situation or the needs of the client.
Employees can be stars individually, but they do not achieve business goals. The star sales team can provide a jump in sales during the season, but will not lead to long-term customer loyalty. For the service team, system PR and local creativity are much more necessary.
You need to talk a lot and in different channels about the service with the staff. Then, the rumors and doubts, scary stories about evil and capricious customers, resentment on management will be changed to a calm, clear understanding of the goals for the service and the tools to achieve it.
In 2019, the trend will be multi-channel communications with staff with the maximum involvement of everyone. Even today, the large chain businesses develop internal social networks; stimulate personal communication between the colleagues, cross-pollination, and individual mentoring. But if earlier the communication and learning was carried out from the bottom up, using the cascade or vertical method, now each participant in the process creates his own content – from videos to comics, computer games or memes. The local creativity of a small store can be a communication strategy for the entire business. Corporate universities are transformed into webinar rooms with prevailing visual content; 2-day trainings replace 15-minute daily training modules. Visual, audio and video content replaces any text, the simpler the service and the more employees – the simpler, more fun, more visual the material should be. Today’s salesperson may become the head of the training team tomorrow, make a training video or start leading the YouTube channel, drive 10 regions with his presentation, launch the course online, win the nomination of the best employee, collect 10,000 likes under a motivational post, become the star of the annual convention on service and a year later, having made their contribution to the propaganda service, leave the company and go to the West or East to study or hitchhike. But the launched communications will develop; form the general field of the service-oriented business.
Modern society is training immunity to advertising, skepticism to incoming information and distrust of facts. Trust in the service is becoming more important: it is often impossible to understand the quality of the goods, the details of the service or the professionalism of the performer. The loud printed word and the TV picture are replaced by the quiet recommendation of a neighbor. For example, according to Millennial Consumer Expectation and Brand Perception Survey, 48% of millennials are bought from those they know.
Against this background, each employee becomes either an ambassador or a brand killer. Today, he can hold or attract dozens/hundreds of people like him, and tomorrow he will become a client or go to the competitors. Respectful sincere attitude, simple rules, fulfilled promises, clear procedures, the ability to complain and ask a question – such standards are suitable for both employees and customers. Ability to work on 2 fronts, with internal and external customers, will become the goal of 2019 for businesses with young teams
Like tea or salt, technologies cease to be a privilege, becoming an indispensable part of everyone’s life. Smartphones are immersing to all corners of the planet, and Internet penetration cannot be stopped by anything. Many processes will change, and service one in the first place. The rate of change is so high that talking about trends can be naive and hopeless. But the main, major trends are on the surface, and they can not be avoided. Google, smartphone, space gamification and robots helpers are the main technological trends of 2019
How many business efforts of the recent years have been invested in the development of corporate sites, their author’s design, convenient navigation, articles, links, selling content and customer galleries. Is all the dust? With one-click Google pushes the corporate site, advertiser, marketer, and even the seller. It is Google that becomes the primary customer interaction agent. A brand or business site, informational or service support is no longer relevant: the client enters the search request into the search engine. Everybody there: location, reviews, contacts, competitors. In 2 clicks, the client builds a route and goes/calls/buys. But maybe this is not for you (if you are not on the map), but to a more technologically competent competitor.
And the business gets new challenges: website optimization for web search engines, placement of information and content in accordance with search algorithms, website promotion, the struggle for high ratings and vivid recommendations. Some companies ignore their ranking and promotion on Google, and suddenly find their positions are losing due to an active competitor around the corner. Waves of information will overwhelm us soon, and simple, fast and well-known tools will remain on the surface. The majority will use them, and businesses that are focused on new customer flows should take this into account.
Not so long ago, the buyer made the decision right in the location: tried/reviewed/evaluated/studied, and the business had the time and arsenal of tools to sell a product or service. Today, the venue has shifted to Showroom or to the Internet, but tomorrow the smartphone will be the main decision point. The proliferation of 4G and all the subsequent evolution of the mobile Internet contribute to this. We are one step away from the “rebellion of producers” and “the dictates of deliveries,” for example, books, clothes, and equipment. They no longer go to super efforts to “stand on the shelf” in large retail – they go directly to the customer. They bypass retail networks – for sales, only the Internet and delivery contractors are needed (DHL, GLS, FedEx, United Parcel Service, New Mail, Ukrposhta, etc.).
High demand allows suppliers to make mistakes, become impudent or make them wait a long time, the unfilled market will still let in new players, but the future is already looking at us: the client will buy from the one who quickly and easily brings, delivers and takes everything that did not fit. Modern European shopping is to order a box of goods to home and return everything you did not like. The point of purchase is a smartphone, the fitting point is your own home, and the point of service is a delivery service.
Such an alignment of forces gives a hope to small businesses to develop and obtain their clients; it gives the opportunity for the transformation of large business, new partner models, cooperation. But in the end, the consumer will always win – it is his interests and preferences that should be taken into account when planning the strategic steps.
Visual, light, bright content and friendly wrapper are strong attributes of the service. But the customized gamification may be the top of the design and aesthetic communication with the client in 2019. The opportunity to play, explore, discover, entertain yourself, try on dozens of different images, experience new things will be laid out in the loyalty and support programs for adults and children, brands and businesses will offer the experience of interacting with the virtual environment with reality, technologies become the marketing tools that allow customers to test products before buying, try, meet, choose.
A significant part of the consumers will choose the product or service that will give an impression and experience. The percentage of profitable deliberate transactions may decrease, giving way to the contact with a vivid experience. For tech-based, mobile or visual businesses, this future is predetermined. The entertainment business is also actively going there: each theater offers a fragment of a performance with a virtual hero, or a 3D image, aggressive drawn tiger’s gallop around the arena of the European circuses, where even the dogs and the horses are forbidden to perform. Even the roadside restaurants of Sicily lure into their halls with the huge screens with video tastings and master classes of chefs. Life in two changes – real and virtual, will actively develop in the 2019 service year.
The amount of accumulated data is multiplied geometrically. The hunt for the consumer continues. Many companies are collecting everything; but they are not able to process and draw the right conclusions. Others are specified, do not burden their customers with the unnecessary questions and seek to predict the customer behavior. This war will be won; the amount of information goes into quality, and each of us will start to receive beautiful personal offers. And the businesses that implement this task will benefit in all respects. For example, according to the consulting company Gartner, by 2020, the profits of brands that have implemented personalization will increase by 15%.
But no wonder this trend is 13. Personal data collection systems (stop scanners, skin scanners, and physical parameters of the face and voice of a person, speech recognition technology) allow you to control the personnel and the service, but it faces data protection laws that are becoming harsher and meaner. There is a growing opposition to interference with privacy, unauthorized data collection, covert and oversight, and restriction of freedoms. For the older generation of consumers, this behavior of both business services and government institutions is interpreted as a violation of freedoms and interference with the privacy. For the generations born with the Internet, data openness and publicity is not a problem, but it is still difficult to predict the future behavior and technology penetration abroad. This trend may be a dead end.
The time of business gurus and sales stars is running out. Now our idols and jesters are Siri or Amazon Alexa personal assistants. They recognize our voices, answer questions about the weather, traffic and sports, create to-do lists, give advice, and they are able to call the police or control other robots. Robots, devices and technologies are firmly embedded in the service life of people
The life of any predictions, forecasts and trends is short. The time comes and they become either a simple reality, or an unfulfilled fantasy, or a mistaken idea. No trend should change the main direction in the customer service: stable quality level of service, bringing loyal customers and business KPI growth
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