Caroline McGuckian, COO at Meshh, looks at the customer experience trends that defined 2018, and will come into play in 2019.
Customer experience (CX) has fast become a top priority for businesses, and 2019 will be no different. For the consumer and business world alike, customer experience has become synonymous with reputation, and a recent study found that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator.
Acknowledging how much is at stake, businesses, marketers and event organisers have aligned their strategies this year to prioritise CX in a bid to gain competitive advantage. I have noted two distinct trends this year – an increase in the usage of data and a shift in perception when it comes to experiential marketing, transitioning from an extravagance to a must.
2018: Collect any data, pick the information you need
The main trend in 2018 was an increase in the usage of data to help deliver more engaging and sophisticated customer experiences. By leveraging the power of data, marketers have been able to completely overhaul what it means to understand their customers – providing a more in-depth analysis of target audiences than ever before, and a more holistic approach to customer engagement.
But simply gathering more data does not guarantee a better understanding of customers. In 2018 we saw more companies than ever make data work for them by asking the right questions and being consistent in collecting information. Investments in advanced analytics tools have been another driver in transforming customer experience, arming marketers and sales teams with relevant tools to provide enhanced and personalised experiences.
2018: One experience is worth a thousand campaigns
Another trend I noticed during my everyday work with clients at Meshh is a heightened focus on experiential marketing as part of the customer experience strategy. Although UK investment in experiential marketing has been rising continuously for over four years, in 2018 the trend was strengthened by brands increasingly viewing experiences and events as vital to fostering stronger bonds with audiences. However, as consumer attention becomes divided in the marketplace of experiences, brands will have to work harder to refine their approach and stand out.
2019: Spatial analytics gaining ground
I believe spatial analytics will be on the rise this year. New technologies that help companies learn more about visitor behaviour and the effectiveness of various activities in physical spaces – such as passive measurement – can support organisations in engaging with existing and prospective customers. Subsequently, this will help them measure brand exposure, improve experiential marketing engagement, demonstrate ROI and ultimately engage new customers. For businesses that want to grow their customer base next year, passively understanding consumer behaviour with the help of the latest technology solutions will become a must.
2019: Forget the digital divide
This year we’ll also witness the digital divide between the granular, data-driven world of digital and the manual approach that currently determines the ROI of physical experiences shrink, as more brands employ a more digitally-led strategy for customer engagement. As event organisers, brands and agencies are already collecting a lot of data about their visitors, next year we’ll likely see them use this data with more direction and purpose. Personalisation will also help bridge this gap, with more companies realising that the one-size-fits-all approach rarely works.
It’s a really exciting time to be working in this area. With so many new solutions on the market, every brand and business can find something to help enhance their CX. The secret is to give it a go. With 86 per cent of buyers willing to pay more for a great customer experience, next year will see marketers respond with a stronger emphasis on CX.