cx-lessons-blog-post

CX Lessons from 2016: 31 Customer Experience Pros Share Their Plans for 2017

In 2016, the customer experience became the focal point of marketing, acquisition, onboarding, UX design, and many other core business functions. Dubbed “The Year of the Customer” by thought leaders and analysts back in Q1, 2016 is the year in which businesses are learning valuable lessons about the importance of placing the customer at the center of marketing, onboarding, and ongoing customer support processes.

What exactly are the takeaways making the biggest impact on customer experience initiatives as companies look to 2017, and how can CX pros and business leaders move their companies forward in the digital, always-on, always-connected, omni-channel landscape? To gain some insight into the key lessons emerging from 2016 and what’s ahead for 2017, we asked a panel of 31 customer-focused marketers and CX pros to answer this question:

“When it comes to customer experience: now that we’re nearing the end of 2016, what have you learned and what will you do differently in preparing for 2017?”

Read on to learn how today’s customer experience professionals are planning to position their companies for CX success as we move into 2017.

Meet Our Panel of Customer Experience Pros:

Daisy JingDaisy Jing

@banishacnescars

Daisy Jing, 27 years old, founded and bootstrapped a now multi-million beauty product line called Banish. Five years ago, she started her business from just her laptop! She had bad acne and tried everything to help clear it up. She tried hundreds of different beauty products and decided to review beauty products to help others suffering with the same problem. In turn, she developed a following of over 50M views in YouTube and became a trusted source of information in the realm of skin problems. During that time, she launched her natural skin care line focused on combating skin blemishes. Now, the company is a team of 14+ women, inspiring confidence in others.

“I have learned in 2016 that our customers (aged 18-24 years old or the millennials) spend most of their time…”

On their mobile devices. They tend to ask for an immediate response. Since our customers are mainly millennials, they communicate more through our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) than by email or phone. They love to ask questions whenever and wherever, and we learned to deal with them in a friendly and casual way, as long as we give them the answers they need and in a timely manner. We make it a priority to respond to our customers as quickly as possible. We value the urgency of responding to customers in all aspects, by all means.
In 2017, we expect more curious customers; more chances for us to reach out to different kinds of people of all ages. It entices me to imagine what awaits us in 2017 for customer service. At the end of the day, the only way to prepare for customer service is to have the heart and the passion to take care of them and always be willing to see what technology offers.

Sasha TenodiSasha Tenodi

Sasha Tenodi is speaker and trainer dedicated to and passionate about helping people to take control of their lives. With a Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences degree from the University of Zagreb and many years working as an expert in the field of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), Sasha is able to draw on his own diverse background – rich with experience and hard won lessons – in order to provide strategies and inspire others to become better, more successful versions of themselves. He believes that we all have the ability to become exactly who we’ve always wanted to be, no matter what conditions or failures we have gone through in life. He shares his knowledge by offering a hands-on approach to learning the basics and complexities behind life design.

“Two years ago I formed a club for my existing clients to enhance costumer experience…”

My Club organizes secret, often stressful and somewhat scary experiences for its 100+ members, but only for the 20 members with the quickest response.

The club has firm rules:

1. Only the organizer knows what they are about to experience.

2. Anyone can organize a secret experience.

3. Once you receive an invitation, you do not ask any questions.

Some of the experiences were: wakeboarding, room escape, beatbox worksh?op, zipline, climbing, bubble football, snakes, and shooting experiences. Each experience aims to (re)move participants from their comfort zone and shake their model of the world. Members are applying not knowing what to expect and the application must be sent within 24 hours. If they are late, they cannot participate in the experience. Reebok found this concept interesting and gave their support to our Club.

Wendy GalvinWendy Glavin

@wendyglavin

Wendy Glavin is Founder and CEO of a NYC-based marketing communications, public relations, social and digital media agency, WendyGlavin.com. Over 20 years she worked for: a Fortune 500 company, Fortune 100 marketing communications agency, public relations, advertising and publishing firms. She is experienced with companies in the B2B and B2C industry sectors.

“While a customer-centric culture is the new standard, according to Gallup…”

71% of B2B customers are not engaged across all industries and are at risk of being replaced; not because of products and services, but rather failing their customers.

Success with customer experience is higher: for B2C, averaging between 65-85% satisfaction, while B2B companies maintain less than 50 percent. Optimized and digitized technology processes, online and mobile apps, speed, metrics and personalization are what today’s customers demand.

The banking and financial industries are impacted because of more and more regulatory and compliance issues that affect all business processes and customer satisfaction. As a solution, many large banks are collaborating with FinTech firms.

IBM reported in its Commerce blog: It’s hard to find a company these days that’s not feeling the impact of “Digital Transformation.” Even if you aren’t yet experiencing it on the job, you certainly are as a consumer – as you’re a key driver behind this transformation. So how does B2B integration come into play?

In a big way. For example, when you place an online order from your mobile device or other means, you start a chain reaction where numerous business documents get exchanged up and down that retailer’s supply chain. Your demands as a consumer for next-day delivery triggers even more complexity behind the scenes. This means overnight processing of the documents and their data is no longer an option if you want to stay competitive.

In marketing, the biggest factor in the success success of their efforts is customer satisfaction, followed by revenue growth, and customer acquisition.

Salesforce recently released the 2016 edition of the State of Marketing report. The report was built after surveying about 4,000 marketers across the globe, shedding light on areas where high-performing marketing teams are focusing and excelling. (The participants of the survey include 26% marketers in B2C, 29% in B2B, and 45% in B2CB2B.)

Gartner reported in June 2016, “B2B organic growth remains elusive.” Customer centricity involves a clear and sustained focus on the customer, but this can’t happen in a vacuum. Gallup views the customer as one part of the customer-centric model. The other components of the model are the B2B company itself and its suppliers. Companies must work on all three components together while understanding that a customer-centric focus is never really done. Instead, this evolutionary process deepens customer relationships, which, in turn, can create organic growth.

From small to large businesses, across all industries, developing a culture of customer-centricity provides a competitive advantage. Companies that do not have a strategy are destined for failure.

Randy HernandezRandy Hernandez

@jet_capital

RandyHernandez is CMO of Jet Capital, an online financial services provider offering small business funding solutions to firms across the U.S. He’s a marketing executive with over 20 years of experience in brand, direct, customer loyalty, digital and database marketing for leading Fortune 500 companies and high growth entrepreneurial firms.

“We launched Jet Capital in late December 2015 with what we thought was a very streamlined and intuitive online application…”

After reviewing Google Analytics conversion data, talking with multiple customers, and listening to customer service calls, we quickly learned that wasn’t the case. We steamlined the application into three pages with progress markers at each stage and also added apply by phone capabilities – because what do you know, business owners are really busy and sometimes would rather apply by talking to a real person than enter data in an application on their phone or desktop computer. Those changes were huge for us – improved submitted application throughput by 40%. Looking to 2017, we’re looking at additional product introductions, so focus will be on optimizing our site and customer experience to match the customer with the best possible product for their particular business needs. Overall lesson is that whether you’re an online business, brick & mortar, or a home-based consultant – you really need to listen and observe your customers and modify your user experience to match their preferences/needs. And continue to optimize – always. Fortunately for marketers, your work is never done.

Jess TiffanyJess Tiffany

@tiffanyintl

Jess Tiffany is the President of the Marketing and Networking University. M.N.U. is an online e-learning platform for entrepreneurs, managers, and business-minded people. M.N.U. combines business education with digital marketing tools to help you get done what you have learned. In short, M.N.U. is helping businesses get educated and get executing.

“Operating our business now for half of 2016, there is one thing that I will definitely want to change going into 2017…”

That change is to increase current customer connections and gain feedback directly from our customers. As a business owner, it is easy to get caught up in doing the things I think my clients want, but many times I find it is just a cool thing I have added with very little enthusiasm from current customers. By spending time getting to know their needs we can build things that appeal to the needs they actually have.

Casey TibbsCasey Tibbs

@imagesquared

Casey Tibbs is the owner and founder of image squared marketing, a boutique marketing agency in Central Illinois that creates hybrid, social/traditional media campaigns. Father of two young boys, one with
Fragile X Syndrome, Mr. Tibbs stays busy balancing work and family time.

“The impact of social media on customer experience continues to intrigue in 2016, and I’ve personally experienced some remarkable interactions this year…”

The big winner for me was once again Hyatt Regency Hotels. Checking into a stellar hotel in an exciting city like New Orleans or Chicago gives me a great feeling that I always want to share, and like most of us do, I share that feeling with a photo and quick blurb that I blast out to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It’s not uncommon to receive a like or generic comment from a brand in these scenarios anymore, but Hyatt Regency makes the experience personal, helpful, and memorable by asking if there’s anything you need for your stay, if there’s anything you’re planning to see in the city, and so forth. This time around, they complimented my selection of items I’d picked up at an industry tradeshow, asked how my stay was going, and continued the conversation like we were old friends. This eventually led a Facebook friend to point out that she had never seen a brand interact with a consumer like that, leading me to then sing the praises of this hotel chain. Hyatt Regency for the win!

The flip side of the social media impact on customer experience, however, seems to be the increasingly poor experience had in many retail locations and restaurants. This may have less to do with social media and more to do with our culture as a whole, but it’s hard to deny the cultural impact of social media in the first place. Although I’ve had my fair share of wonderful experiences as a local consumer in 2016, my experiences dining out continue to leave a lot to be desired. When a server doesn’t look a guest in the eye and recites the stock script in a voice that says the last thing I want to do is be here, right now, it doesn’t say nearly as much about that server as it does the business structure and culture beyond her singular role. With so many brands getting customer experience right and recognizing how much is at stake, it’s simply a shame to see lost opportunities like this happening so often. I’d love to see brands putting the same level of energy and focus into caring for their front line people in a way that boosts them up and encourages them to pay it forward to both the customer and the brand.

The lesson from all this? I’m going to encourage my clients to approach caring for their employees in 2017 with the same all-in focus and determination that they approached social media with in 2016! As a marketer, I plan on doing my best to help my clients reach the same level of customer experience I received from Hyatt Regency by driving honest, helpful interactions.

Alex Reichmann iTestCashAlex Reichmann

@iTestCash

Alex Reichmann is the CEO of iTestCash and supplies businesses all around the blog with money handling machines including counterfeit detectors and money counters.

“Moving forward we are utilizing…”

The chat system on our website and working on improving over time. We eventually would like to have customer service reps that can chat 24/7 to provide fast service for our overseas customers. I think with how the internet is evolving, people really appreciate fast and effecient customer service.

Qiaoli Wang StyleWeQiaoli Wang

@StyleWe

Qiaoli Wang works for StyleWe, an online fashion shopping platform featuring independent fashion designers.

“We are stepping into an era in which manufacturing products is never a problem. With a plenty of excellent companies worldwide, customers are more than information-overwhelmed…”

What they need to do is to search the internet and find the most suitable companies, products, or services for their needs. From the company’s perspective, they are the ones who will be chosen. However, with Big Data today, companies are able to track down their potential customers’ life trajectory and seize the chance to advertise their product at the right time. Customers then spend less time searching and choosing. That’s why this trend is called the information revolution.

Jake RheudeJake Rheude

@RedStagFulfill

Jake Rheude is the Director of Business Development for Red Stag Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfillment house designed to provide eCommerce businesses with rapid fulfillment capabilities.

“The customer experience, particularly for online retailers, is one that will be ever-increasing towards…”

Advancements in new technologies and processes in order to achieve a higher level of value for the consumer. The most significant changes will likely come in the way products are delivered to customers after the “buy” button is clicked. In the past five years, we’ve seen advancements in technology and distribution capabilities that have lead to consumers to expect – as standard – that online orders be delivered to their doorstep in 48 hours or less, in the exact specified condition, without an additional up-charge for shipping. This was an unheard-of service level just five years ago but has primarily been established due to the success of Amazon Prime. As these consumer expectations continue to increase, our distribution systems will not only become more complex, but it will also ned to become more efficient both from a time and cost perspective. The use of autonomous trucks, and drone delivery for densely populated areas is not longer a picture reserved for sci-fi movies, but it’s is an inevitable reality of the consumer experience in the years to come.

Bryan ClaytonBryan Clayton

@YourGreenPal

Bryan Clayton is the CEO of GreenPal, which is best described as Uber for Lawn Care.

“Our company now has over 20,000 customers in seven different states and as we grow and enter 2017 we are realizing…”

That we have to figure out ways to deliver personalized customer care at large scale.

These days, customers expect contextual personal care no matter what their unique situation is. They don’t want to wait on hold, they do not want to be directed to a frequently-asked questions page, and they do not want to leave a voicemail; they want an answer or a resolution to their problem now.

The way we are handling this and plan on scaling is with intercom.I/O and integrating contextual messages throughout our product experience. This is a long-term, iterative labor of love to make sure our customers get personalized care at large scale.

Terence ChannonTerence Channon

@TerrenceChannon

Terence Channon is Managing Director of SaltMines Group, a Start-Up Studio & Professional Services firm. SaltMines provides technology, capital and advisory support to early stage start-ups and innovation consulting and development services to established enterprises.

“Conversations and user experiences are becoming more…”

1-on-1 type dialogues rather than mass marketing. Conversations with customers will take place more on messenger platforms, such as Facebook or WhatsApp, rather than email. We will be focusing our efforts on creating personalized experiences and intelligent platforms that can communicate with users in a very emotive way. Animations, visuals, and other rich media that connects with a user in a more human way will start to replace traditional, rigid conversations.

Stacey NevelStacey Nevel

@sbnevel

Stacey Nevel is a seasoned Customer Experience (CX) professional with over 20 years of experience designing and managing customer and employee feedback programs. She has a background in CX feedback measurement and management within client-side financial services and insurance companies and, for last 14 years, with vendor-side CX technology and consulting providers. Her current role as the VoC Consulting Director at Confirmit involves championing industry best practices among current clients, helping new clients define or re-define their VoC program strategy and helping to shape Confirmit’s VoC methodology and services offerings.

“After years of focusing on hard metrics, processes and performance data, the role of…”

Emotion in the buying cycle is moving to the forefront. Taking emotion into account can help you to breathe new life into your Voice of the Customer program, and to understand the value of collecting unsolicited feedback to measure both customer and the broader market’s emotions surrounding your business. As CX practitioners, we need to understand how to: design feedback systems, leverage mobile technology, implement and analyze the right metrics, and take effective action on emotional feedback.

Brock MurrayBrock Murray

@SEOBrock

Brock Murray is the Co-Founder and COO at seoplus+, an international digital marketing agency providing SEO, PPC, social media marketing, content marketing, and web design/development services to clients around the world in a variety of verticals.

“Responsiveness has always been a priority, but going forward into the second half of 2016 and beyond…”

Even more so. We’re actually building a ticket portal to make sure nothing gets lost and every client need, no matter how small, is directed to the right person and attended to immediately. The customer doesn’t have to worry about who on the team to call/email – the request is sorted and the most appropriate team member will be able to handle it swiftly. As a B2B service, we’re here to enhance the business processes of our clients, and the last thing we want is a miscommunication or a lag in response to affect our clients. Clients should be focusing on what they do best, not trying to chase around an agency or service provider for a solution.

Kate ChanKate Chan

@HelloKateChan

Kate Chan is a full-stack marketer at Rabbut, an email collecting tool for Medium and LinkedIn.

“As a Sass company, most of the customer experience comes from how we handle…”

Customer support. One thing that I’ve learned is that people get frustrated, antsy even if we don’t respond to them within an hour. One
small adjustment that we made recently in our customer support team is that we will respond to tickets within a one-hour period. This change alone has resulted in a much higher customer retention rate than before.

From this experience, we know that people want to be heard and acknowledge immediately. One thing that we are planning to try out in 2017 is to have our founder and co-founder personally handle some of our customer tickets. That way the problem is directly delivered to the founder and co-founder, so they have a better sense of what the customers are are saying about the product without the risk of the message being diluted.

Nathan BarberNathan Barber

@Barber_Nathan1

Nathan Barber is a digital marketer at a digital marketing agency called digitaladvertisngWorks. When is he not working, he likes to keep fit on the soccer field playing pickup ball.

“From a digital marketing perspective, coming through 2016, we have learned and told our clients that…”

Offering a reward system for customers to review their positive experience with the company has had a two-fold positive effect. For one, it offers current and past customers incentive to come back when they are offered something of value in return, increasing our customer retention rate.

Secondly, the positive reviews shown on search results and home page have had a positive impact of attaining new customers who are looking to enjoy their user experience. The better the reviews, the more impact is portrayed that he or she is about to deal with a trustworthy and competent business as they embark on their purchase experience.

Sasha VassilevaSasha Vassileva

@topvisor

Sasha Vassileva has been working in Customer Support all her life, since age 17. She used to work for well-known companies like JTI or Nokia. Finally, she settled down at Topvisor, Co. Ltd., a small company in Thailand that makes SaaS for SEO. She works as the Head of the Customer Care for Topvisor.

“As I’m responsible for customer support in my company, I try to keep up with the latest trends. In 2016 I’ve learned three important things…”

The first thing is that we need to automate the process. It can be painful, yet it’s a must. The reasons are simple: First, it frees your hands. Secondly, just based on my own experience, staff turnover in most Customer Support departments is a headache. A bot won’t get a nervous breakdown and quit. And last but not least, bots can be extremely powerful and handy for customer education.

I advise companies to automate, but to automate in a clever way. Automation can include some other things aside from bots. For example, we have integrated all social media and connected it to the ticket system. This allowed us to aggregate all feedback in one central location. And, there still should be a human being that can help where a bot cannot.

The second thing is that customers now prefer writing to talking. The call rate has dropped, whereas email and ticket-flow has increased. That’s good news for supporters, as emails and requests are in most cases easier to handle.

And the third thing is that education is everything. Half of all requests are those ‘how-to’ requests. If we teach our clients how to use our product, we’ll have more time to teach our staff how to make those clients happy.

What do I think will happen in the near future? I believe that automation will pick up speed. Managers who will continue working in support departments will most likely be the experienced multi-taskers; they will be able to complete complicated tasks that a bot cannot resolve. For example, they will be able to test a product or write scripts, etc.

John TurnerJohn Turner

@UsabilityGuyPGH

John Turner is CEO/Founder of UsersThink, a tool that delivers user feedback on demand for website landing pages, helping to increase conversions and improve usability and UX.

“The biggest thing I learned so far in 2016 about customer experience is to…”

Do everything you can to help your users and customers solve their own problems.

Early signs of a bad customer experience started to show up this year, with a slowly growing increase of potential customer emails around problems or questions they had about UsersThink. While the rate of questions started to increase, patterns began to emerge, and it seemed like the questions centered around the same dozen issues.

At first, there was hesitation from me to do anything, because I felt that these questions were well answered on the website, and these individual users were the outliers who were unable to find them. But after more emails came in, I finally realized that while the answers were on the site, they were scattered and often hard to find if you had a specific question.

So we built a FAQ page – which, in retrospect, we should have had from the start, and as questions came in with enough frequency, we would add the question and answer to that page. Over time, the number of customer service emails has fallen sharply and sales have increased.

All this happened by listening to customers, hearing their questions and concerns, and answering them in a direct and public way, in a format that made it easy for them to find their own solutions. Doing more of this will lead to a much better customer experience, less customer support, and greater sales.

Dean HecklerDean Heckler

@hecklerdesign

Dean Heckler is the founder and CEO of Heckler Design and serves as the company’s design guy. He’s obsessed with simplicity, and the happiness of the company’s end-customers – those who actually use their products on a daily basis. Like many industrial designers, he’s demanding, stubborn, and generally dissatisfied with the status quo and works day and night to improve things.

“We’ve learned that today’s customers are very comfortable interacting with companies through…”

Web interfaces, apps, and chat bots to check order statuses, inquiry about product specifications, address minor concerns, etc. People are learning that, more often than not, calling a company on the phone only connects them to someone who ultimately won’t be able to help
them – the web-based systems are more effective.

As far as predictions for 2017, now that we know how comfortable customers are with web-based interactions, companies will leverage that more and more traditional customer services arenas (we’re already seeing it airports and movie theaters). We’ll see more screens popping up with humans used to be – and it will continue to mobile. Tablets will be mounted to walls, into countertops, and on kiosk stands to streamline customer service processes.

Brett Arrington Customer EmotionBrett Arrington

@brett_arrington

Brett Arrington is the founder of Customer Emotion. He has helped companies all over North and South America create great customer experiences. He also speaks on the subject. He has worked with brands such as Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Rolls Royce, Lexus and in leading retail companies in Chile, Panama, Mexico and Argentina.

“Customers are always evolving. If we briefly look at the progression that got us here we can shed a lot of light on the subject…”

For many years (centuries) customers looked for products. In the last few decades, service started becoming important. Now these two focuses have become the base from which to start. Customer experiences have become more and more important, yet many companies still ignore this fact. All of these changes happen because of the customer. Organizations like to think we drive change. In reality, its the customers’ increasing level of want (and need) that drive the markets.

Many experts are starting to talk about the connection economy without really explaining what it is. To compete at the highest level, organizations must connect at a base level. For years organizations have spoken to customers as if they are adults speaking to children. Mass marketing, features appealing to majorities, etc. Now these adult companies need to understand that these customers are grown up. In many ways, customers are more sofisticated than ever before, more so than most marketing departments. Customers want to be included in the conversation. They want to be able to trust what is coming down the line, and frankly most companies aren’t trusted. How many times do you go to a YouTube video review from a video blogger to get info about a product instead of the company’s website? Why? We trust that YouTuber more than we trust the company. We aren’t masses anymore. Customers want customization to fit our lifestyle. What was the edge is now the mainstream. This makes it difficult for companies because it’s a whole new playing field…and many haven’t even made it to the experience playing field yet.

Going forward, companies need to produce this trust by being more transparent and helping the world community in ways that are important to them. TOMS shoes is a great example of a company that has earned the trust of their customers. They give a great product and experience while at the same time connecting with a cause that is important to a lot of us. This has earned them the trust of their community.

Companies need to reach out more and talk to customers. On a project for a supermarket chain in Mexico my team and I spoke to over 1,000 customers in 45 days. We learned what really matters to them, not what the company thought mattered. Surprisingly for the customer, it wasn’t prices that mattered (in a depressed economy) but the social work they do and the way they are greeted when coming in.

2017 is going to be a hard time for companies that don’t start competing on the new battle field with a customer experience base and by gaining trust now. When we changed from a product to a service economy and then from a service to experience economy, it was because of market saturation in products and then services. Companies had to evolve to break free. We are now transitioning, but under different circumstances. There is no saturation of great customer experiences. They are still few and far between, but now customers want to connect. So the customer is, for many companies, two steps ahead. Customer experiences are still differentiators, but to be at the top you have to connect.

Tim DoddTim Dodd

@MrTimDodd

Tim Dodd is the co-founder and CEO of the Miami web design and SEO company TEV Marketing. He is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for internet marketing, business development, and networking.

“Something we really want to start doing heavily in 2017 is increase…”

Positive customer touch points. Our clients are on monthly retainers, and we’ve found that the more touch-points we have throughout the month, the higher the customer satisfaction is. It lets them know that we are constantly working for them and keeps us front of mind. One thing we’ve started doing for this with a positive response is engaging them in the press opportunities we run into for their companies.

Saqib ZahidSaqib Zahid

@saqzahid

Saqib Zahid is a Senior Brand Strategist at PureVPN. An entrepreneur at heart
and a Digital Security and Privacy Enthusiast, he looks to help millennials to make the best out of their resources and have a secured digital life.

“Working as a Brand Strategist provides me an in-depth view about what matters to today’s netizens. The one biggest thing 2016 has taught me til now is…”

Customer experience is now mobile. Millennials, now 25 percent of the U.S. population, commanding ever increasing purchase power, highly
influence the buying decisions and customer experience expectations of everyone. This highly influential cohort is driven by mobile. As much as the omni-channel experience is important, it will always be dominated by mobile.

In 2017, the focus is going to be on Non-Human Digital Assistants. Providing uninterrupted, highly intelligent, evolving, seamless two-way engagement to customers mimicking human conversations via text, across multiple platforms, in multiple languages will prove to be the ultimate customer experience game-changer. The limelight is here is on evolving. It is crucial for bot technology and platforms to be highly reactive and rely on neural networking to cope with complex human conversations. What the future bots would need to provide the best customer experience is a strong, unique personality.

Mike BucknerMike Buckner

Mike Buckner works for Sears Home Service, the nation’s largest product repair service provider, a key element in Sears Holdings active relationship providing more than 52 million solutions for homeowners annually. This business delivers a broad range of retail-related residential and commercial services across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. Sears Home Services also includes HVAC services and home improvement services (primarily siding, windows, cabinet refacing, kitchen remodeling, roofing, carpet and upholstery cleaning, air duct cleaning, and garage door installation and repair).

“In 2017, we want to…”

Expose the internal reviews on our website. We want the customer to visit our website and be able to read reviews from past customers, both negative and positive, so they know what to expect when they schedule a service with us.

Chip BellChip Bell

@ChipRBell

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books. Global Gurus ranked him both in 2014 and 2015 as the #1 keynote speaker in the world on customer service. He has appeared live on CNN, CNBC, ABC, Fox Business, Network, Bloomberg TV, NPR and his work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, USA Today, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine and Businessweek.

“In 2016, there are a few lessons to learn…”

That great service recovery that focuses on relationship repair can turn an oops into a powerful opportunity to grow customer advocacy. That the most under-utilized customer intelligence tool is the wisdom and insight of the frontline service people. That service teams that demonstrate great collaboration and effective partnership can always trump the best solo service person. That service leadership excellence is about mentoring and supporting, not metrics and control.

Plans for 2017:

Devote more resources to getting better real-time customer insight. Figure out the service implications of Pokemon Go. Craft service training that actively incorporates the customer (live). Build tools for service teamwork renewal and updating.

Ray McKenzieRay McKenzie

@RayMc209

Ray McKenzie is the founder of Red Beach Advisors based in Los Angeles, CA. He is a management consultant specializing in implementing solutions for startups and small- to medium-sized innovative businesses through strategy, process, systems, and people.

“Customer experience has transformed from high engagement to…”

Self-service and back to high engagement. Initially customers wanted to talk, see, and meet who was providing a service. Then customers wanted the ability for self-service and interface on their own terms. Now the customer experience is a combination of two, but service and support must include high engagement in the form of account management, customer and client retention, and communication e-mails and calls.

As I prepare to continue growing my firm in helping clients with customer success and experience strategies, along with my own clients, I plan to increase engagement. I will also engage clients with several mediums including social media and marketing automation tools. The development of tools to measure effectiveness, customer engagement, and client satisfaction are to be used by all organizations to reduce customer churn and increase client satisfaction.

Nicholas WebbNicholas Webb

@nickwebbcom

Nicholas Webb is a well-known innovation thought leader, author and keynote
speaker. His upcoming book What Customers Crave speaks to the New Science of Customer Experience Design and is available in bookstores worldwide this October.

“The overwhelming majority of businesses fail at delivering customer experience that will…”

Ultimately keep them competitive. After three years of research of looking at thousands of companies, I’ve found that there are
three things that the best organizations around the world do. First, they make an absolute commitment to becoming a customer-centric business. Simply put, they actually put their customer first and they commit the necessary resources to gain the right insights and to deliver the best experiences. Secondly, they break their customers into customer types rather than using old-fashioned market segmentation to identify the range of customers they serve. Instead of looking at their customers’ demographics; age, race, gender, income, etc., they look at their customers based on what they hate and what they love. By identifying their customers this way, they are able to create relevant experiences across a range of customer types, and this significantly improves customer satisfaction. Last but certainly not least, these organizations look at customer experience as a design activity and they design exceptional customer experiences across the five key touch points of their customers’ journey. So if we now have the science to architect perfect human experiences, the question then is why are we not doing it? Our research shows that most organizations erroneously believe that they’re delivering far better experiences than they actually are. In other words, if they don’t recognize the problem, they will never deploy the resources to fix it.

Kevin LeiferKevin Leifer

@StellaService

Kevin Leifer and his team at StellaService help their clients define/design the expected customer experience, create programs to monitor and measure the experience both objectively and subjectively and determine the opportunities to improve it. Their focus is on using the data, not just collecting it.

“For the first time, the customer experience has been announced as…”

The focus or priority in 2016. We have seen this followed up by action in many, but not all, of those cases. For the balance, is this a PR message or a true shift in organizational direction that they are not yet ready to commit to?

The practice of looking at the entire customer journey as well as the experience arch within the individual channels (on-line, in-store, mobile, etc.) has allowed companies to begin to truly understand and appreciate the entire spectrum of intersections between their brand and its customers. In doing so, they can begin to not only hone individual channels, but begin to create a far more seamless journey for their customers.

Convenience and personalization are emerging as customers’ #1 priority. Organizations that can provide their goods and services while highlighting these features will certainly prevail.

Kean GrahamKean Graham

@monetizemore

Kean Graham is the CEO of MonetizeMore, a leading ad tech firm that is a Google Certified Partner. In short, they increase ad revenues for large publishers via tech and ad optimization teams. MonetizeMore is a location independent business with over 60 team members and has been running for 6.5 years.

“I have learned that customers expect value from a company…”

They have heard of before. This is the company’s chance to prove itself a worthwhile and trustworthy company. For that reason, most customers will not drop a dime until they’ve seen this initial value.

We have taken this to heart and plan to offer the below in 2017:

  • Free trial: We will offer our product MonetizeMore Demand for a 7-day free trial. That is the amount of time the customer would need to see before they notice that their ad revenues have taken a major spike.
  • Free Features: Our platform called PubGuru will have a free signup that will have several free useful features like malware detection, a report ads widget, and an Ad Block tracker.

Greg DewaldGreg Dewald

@BrightTax

Greg Dewald founded Bright!Tax in 2012 to provide tax filing services and
help for Americans living abroad. The company’s ethos is to provide a first-rate client experience at an affordable price. Just four years later, Bright!Tax has clients in over 150 countries, and is growing at a rate of over 50% a year.

“Bright!Tax is an online provider of tax service for Americans living abroad. We have clients in over 150 countries, and customer experience is our overriding focus. As such, we’ve had to develop ways to create a superlative customer experience that works long-range…”

The key for us has been offering our customers ways to keep in contact with us that suit them rather than us. This may mean by Skype, phone, email, online chat, Google messenger, Facetime – however they like. Skype, Facetime, and phone calls are arranged by email, and we respond to emails as quickly as possible, normally straight away, rather than just within 24 or 48 hours, for example.

For the new wave of international online businesses like ours, allowing customers to feel connected to rather than removed from the company, despite being physically distant, is imperative.

Ben ThompsonBen Thompson

@GitPrime

Ben Thompson is co-founder GitPrime where he leads design, marketing, and customer experience. He in a Y Combinator alumni, and an expert in product design, branding, and UX design.

“With all the consumer applications in daily use today, even business-centric apps need to think about…”

Design. People expect more more. Today’s user wants the consumer experience, even in their enterprise applications. Someone using Instagram in their personal time doesn’t want to come to work and deal with an ugly enterprise UI – modern users expect a higher standard of care. Our focus in 2017 is focusing on clean workflows and elegant design in order to bring consumer-level. It’s not okay to drop someone into a heavy, confusing experience. Customers expect to be guided through the application, and to have the question, “What can I do with this?” answered intuitively at every step. In 2017, any applications that burden users with outmoded design or confusing UI will see their user base move to the competition.

Chloe ThomasChloe Thomas

@eComMasterPlan

Chloe is author of the bestselling Customer Manipulation: How to Influence
Your Customers to buy more and Why and Ethical Approach will Always Win.
She’s also host of the eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast, and an international
keynote speaker.

“It’s clear that the businesses who are going to be most successful during 2016 and into the future are those who are…”

Focused on building a stronger relationship with their customers. That means listening to what the customer wants and providing them with it. In terms of systems learning where they want to interact with you, and enablling them to do so – so if they want to contact customer service via Facebook messenger – then you need to set up your team to do that. Likewise for other social media channels, webchat or even the humble telephone!

It also means encouraging a conversation with your customers. Create interesting content they want to consum and talk about, create forums and Facebook groups where they can interact with each other, and your team to help you push your business forwards.

Alexander KonanykhinAlexander Konanykhin

@YandikiCloud

Alex Konanykhin is an entrepreneur and former banker who founded a private bank in Russia towards the end of communist rule Earlier this year, Citigroup designated his company, Yandiki, as the “Top People Management Solution” of 2016. Alex is the founder of TransparentBusiness.com, Yandiki.com, and Stock4Services.com, a platform that allows people to trade their services for equity stakes in a company. He’s forged major business partnerships with companies like ADP and Facebook, and his business acumen has landed him contracts with the Saudi Arabian and Ukrainian governments.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned about the customer experience in 2016 is…”

That it pays to empower your team to engage with customers. Customer experience is no longer just a matter of providing good support. Customers these days are in the driver’s seat, and they expect a multi-channel customer experience. Looking forward, successful organizations will implement collaborative and impactful customer service solutions that include employees at all levels.

Monica Givati
Monica Givati is a marketing professional with over a decade of experience and a lover of languages and the written word. Monica, Nanorep’s Head of Marketing, Content, & Communications, is interested in the space where customer service solutions meet the digital journey, especially curious about the budding world of AI and chatbots.