2016 Will Be the Year of Customer Experience

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This past month I consumed a slew of content about customer experience, which has led me to the conclusion that 2016 will be the year of customer experience.

In fact, that was one of the key takeaways from a slideshow from CMO.com entitled CMO.com’s Top 10 Marketing Trends For 2016. In the trend ”Brands In The Flesh,” one industry insider declared, “2016 will be the year of customer experience, but only because marketing, merchandising, and operations will finally come together to provide a contiguous experience to all customers.

With that as a start to the month, all sorts of perspectives on customer experience started appearing in my streams of content. Sarah Halzack wrote for the Washington Post Shoppers are choosing experiences over stuff, and that’s bad news for retailers. Reporting on weak sales during the holiday shopping season reported by Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Bed Bath & Beyond, and others, Halzack observed, “Increasingly, shoppers are passing up the cashmere sweaters or leather handbags and instead shelling out for experiences such as a beach vacation, a dinner out on the town or a concert.

Then I listened to a 33Voices podcast in which Moe Abdou interviewed Brian Solis about Brian’s new book, “X: The Experience When Business Meets Design.” The conversation caught my attention because the thesis of the book is “experience is the new brand; and experiences are the new branding.”  I’ve added it to my reading list!

Building Repeatable Customer Experiences was one of several short posts from Jeanne Bliss this month that contained helpful tools and frameworks about how to design and manage customer experience. In this one, she explained that a Chief Customer Officer must embed two new competencies inside an organization:

  1. Customer Experience Reliability – Resolving issues that create irregularity and lack of reliability in your customer experience.
  2. Customer Experience Improvement/Innovation – Creating differentiated experiences at key touchpoints or “moments of truth.”

The post includes links to a couple of downloadable tools on the topic.

Annette Franz Gleneicki always has terrific insights about customer experience — and a recent post Yea, But Will They Keep You as a Customer? struck a particular chord with me because it contrasted tactics like punch cards which businesspeople use to try to gain loyal customers vs. customer experience strategies that inspire true loyalty.

And embedded in a meandering HuffPo post entitled What Is Customer Experience? I found an “Evolutionary timeline of the customer experience.” It starts with “1894 – Switchboard invented which opened the door for communication between buyers and sellers” and ends with “2014 – Pinterest and expanded brand marketing through crowdsourcing.” Although the timeline misses some important developments like the Apple store, it’s worth taking a look at to be reminded how much shopping and the customer experience has changed.

These are just a few of the great pieces from the month that reinforce that 2016 will be the year of customer experience. If any stood out to you, please share them in the COMMENTS section below.

P.S.  With this post, I’m starting a new blog feature for 2016. At the end of each month I plan to share a round-up of content that stood out to me in the weeks prior. In addition to the brain food I prepare for you, my readers, I thought you might like to chew on some tasty bites from others. I hope you will find them worthy of your time and consumption. I’d very much like to hear your feedback to this new feature — feel free to contact me through:  http:/deniseleeyohn.com/contact.  Thanks for reading!

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