The most successful weapon to fight customer attrition is creating a personalized customer experience that is unique to your business and the individual customer. According to Accenture, the “Switching Economy” is up 29 percent since 2010 as companies struggle to keep up with the non-stop customer. Does the loyal customer still exist?

The answer is yes.  Companies with a customer centric culture coupled with a customer experience strategy can create loyalty.

Loyalty in turn advances a higher percentage of repeat customers.

Here are a few customer experience trends we expect to see in 2016:

Customer Service Trend No. 1: The New Era of The Endangered Customer

The second decade of the 21st century is witnessing a convergence of forces moving customer loyalty to the edge of extinction. There has never been more competition. Customers are empowered by increasing control over the retail process, as the digital, global marketplace delivers ever greater choice and saves them time, money, and hassle. Consumers are enticed by third-party resellers like Amazon and Google.  Start-ups such as Uber did not exist before 2009 and the company is now worth over $50 billion. The smart phone provides our communication and entertainment and is the vehicle for competitive marketers to reach out and touch your customers anytime, anyplace. The challenge for companies and brands across all service categories and channels today, from ecommerce, contact centers and brick-and-mortar, is to engender loyalty – but the loyal customer is an endangered species.

Customer Service Trend No. 2: Self-Serve Help Will Be The First Choice

Consumers choose to find answers to their questions using an assortment of self-serve options. For 2016, companies should ensure their FAQ’s are completely up-to-date, featured prominently on their website — as opposed to buried and impossible to find — and listed as a menu option on the IVR. Customer service associates are primarily answering questions based on data provided in a company reference guide; sharing the same information with consumers will help them find answers faster.

Customer Service Trend No. 3: Consumers Find Social Media Posts Get Speedy Responses

Consumers have learned their issues are resolved almost instantaneously when they post complaints on social media. Why should consumers take the time to send an email voicing their frustrations when a response may take a week to receive? The good news for the consumer: they have the company’s attention. The bad news is the world now has a record of a quality defect or poor service delivery.

Customer Service Trend No. 4: Predictive and Personalized Technology Is Required For A Good Customer Experience

Technology to enhance the customer experience is not sufficient unless it is predictive and personalized. Consumers are pleased when they call a company for an order status and the company’s systems recognize who is calling and can anticipate their inquiry. However, erase the mindset that using technology to force self-serve is a positive outcome. Employing technology to make the customer experience easier and faster will become the new norm. Smart technology saves time and enhances the journey.

Customer Service Trend No. 5: Even Faster is the Latest Innovation in Customer Response

Now Walmart is experimenting with drones. What would Sam Walton think? We live in the age of the instant economy where speed is a differentiator. However, consumers will no longer just rate the company based on product delivery turnaround time but want to do business with companies who also have speedy turnaround time to resolve issues and answer questions. Answering emails 24 hours later is literally yesterday’s news.

What does this all mean for you in terms of customer service?

Have your teams huddle around the white boards and brainstorm about how prepared they are for the latest trends.  Creating the quintessential customer experience is the differentiator between your company and your competitor.  Remember that understanding how the customer feels is just as important as what they are saying.

These are just a few of the customer experience trends we expect in 2016. For the full list, please download our free EBook on the same topic.

About Richard Shapiro

Richard Shapiro is President and Founder of The Center for Client Retention and a highly regarded authority in the specialized field of customer satisfaction and loyalty research. He founded the firm in 1988. TCFCR helps numerous Fortune 500 companies create exceptional customer experiences through their survey research, training and consulting.

Richard's first book, entitled, The Welcomer Edge; Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business was published in February 1, 2013. His second book, The Endangered Customer: Eight Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business, was released in January 2016.

He is on the Corporate Advisory Board for Comunilife's Life is Precious Program that supports social services for at-risk Latina teenagers who are contemplating suicide. He is also Chair of the Annual Fund Raising Breakfast.

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