Welcome to 2018. As we head into the new year it’s always a great time to reflect on what was important in the past year and how our priorities may change in 2018. One of the biggest changes in Europe this year will be the enforcement of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This means that every company will be focusing on their use of customer data because the European authorities will be enforcing big penalties from May. But what other trends or changes can we expect to see this year?
I heard an interesting Futurescapes podcast on Soundcloud by Tom Meyer and Phil Carter of IDC focusing on their view of the future. IDC believes that many European organisations have launched major digital transformation initiatives in 2016 and 2017 using emerging technologies, but they are now stuck. There is a disconnect between the potential for innovative technologies to change how a company does business and their ability to effectively use these tools and realise the benefits.
IDC believes that much of the focus in 2018 will be companies trying to escape this deadlock. It’s a story that rings true in the area of CX (Customer Experience) because customers are constantly demanding that brands adopt new channels or new technologies, yet by the time major companies invest in systems the customers have already moved on. Omnichannel service is a great example – everyone knows that this is the optimal way to interact with customers yet very few brands are really doing it well.
IDC outlines five key areas where executives need to start thinking strategically about 2018. These five areas of focus drill into some of the most important changes we are seeing at present – in particular in systems and processes that support CX:
1. Better roadmaps and planning; the customer journey has so dramatically changed in the past couple of years it is likely that you don’t have a firm idea how your customers even learned about your products or found your website or app. It’s time to invest in redefining the customer journey starting by understanding what is really happening today.
2. Improved KPIs; CX is about far more than contact centres and customer service alone so measures that applied to a voice and email contact centre a decade ago need revision. Think how you can measure CX success in a multichannel environment.
3. New organisation structures; the changing customer journey affects how your company is structured today. Think about the way that marketing, customer service, sales, and all other customer-facing departments need to work together – possibly even be merged into a single customer hub.
4. New data analysis capabilities; customers expect more personalisation than ever. They know that you have data on their purchase history and behaviour and expect you to be able to personalise offers and recommendations. Discounts offered to any customer can actually have a negative effect today.
5. New platforms; cloud and app based platforms are entirely changing the way that services are delivered and paid for. If you started your company today, how would you be delivering your services? Is it far from what you are currently doing?
This is a great summary in just five statements of where to focus in 2018. I also like the IDC view that many initiatives are trapped between the ideal future state and the present reality. This is a reality in many organisations and a new year is the perfect time to deal with the deadlock.