The customer experience is changing with increasing speed as we move further into the 21st century. As technology evolves and makes the experience of a customer more convenient at every stage of the buying journey, companies in every industry are making strong efforts to improve their customer service processes. Customers now have very high expectations for their ability to communicate with businesses, and the customer experience is more of a two-way street than ever before. As the calendar flips to 2018, here are some trends to look for in the changing landscape of customer experience:

Faster Connection on Every Platform

In 2017 we saw more ways than ever before for businesses to reach their customers and prospects – and vice versa. Social media, mobile devices from phones to tablets, websites, and in-store are all important platforms on which to connect with customers. Many businesses are improving their online customer experience by employing web chat services to help customers more easily reach personnel with questions or comments (even easily detecting a customer’s language to connect them with a technician who speaks that language). Call-back systems employed by many businesses have essentially erased the need to wait on hold for a technician and have helped to reduce wait times throughout the customer service process. In 2018, look for even faster connection options on every platform to make the customer experience more efficient, more successful, and easier for the customer.
Empowering Customer Service Personnel with Data

The hot topic in 2017 was the Internet of Things, or IoT, enabling digital connectivity for a multitude of appliances and home automation devices—from syncing alarm clocks and coffeemakers to automatically downloading workout data from a wearable fitness watch. This world of big data has also been refining the customer experience, allowing for better targeting of prospective customers’ wants and needs via predictive analytics on their browsing and spending habits. In 2018, expect big data to further impact the customer experience, with analytics updated in real time as you interact with your customers to deliver a more personalized, accurate, and efficient customer experience.

A Focus on Self-Service

As customers become more and more connected, there is a growing expectation among consumers that they will be able to search for the answer to a problem and solve it themselves. Many businesses are building on this expectation, creating self-service portals within their website, app, or even in-store to help customers solve problems without having to call customer service. In this way, their customers feel more empowered to take control of their own experience and interact in the way that is simplest and most effective for them. The next year looks to make the customer experience even more accessible by improving on customer self-service.

In our ever more interconnected world, the customer experience is changing dramatically every year. Multi-platform connectivity, big data and self-service are all trends to watch as technology helps make optimizing the customer experience an essential objective for every brand.