CSP Happenings





Topic: Customer Service Experience

Language Fuels Customer Experience

April 26, 2018

When we think of customer experience, we think of the delivery of goods and services to the customer. We think of the painlessness of the experience, the value they get for the money and the ease of working with our businesses. We don’t always think about how the words and phrases we use to interact with our customers affect their overall experience. However, to overlook language in the context of customer service is to overlook the value words have to sell and impact opinions.

Language shapes the way customers feel about your brand and impacts the way they perceive the non-verbal interactions you already have in place. Consider these five points to improve the way your words shape your business:

Talking About Goals, Rather Than Products

Businesses sell products and services, and those services have benefits. If we sell paint for home interiors, we’ll talk about the long-lasting coat, price per gallon and a variety of colors to find exactly what your room needs. These benefits are important, but sometimes they’re short-sighted. For a couple that just bought a new home, they may want long-lasting color, but the long-lasting color serves to bring their home to life and make it feel warm. This may sound touchy-feely, but the reality is that consumers don’t care about the technical details as much as they care about how those details will make their lives better. In other words, focus on the end benefit. If your product or service has a strength, talk about how it’s going to satisfy the emotional needs of your customers.

Setting Customer Expectations

Aligning your business’s promises and guarantees with your customers’ minds is critical to ensuring satisfaction. The phrase “under-promise and over-deliver” applies here. As important as it is for customers to know about all the great benefits they get, it’s equally important for them to understand what they don’t get. Illustrating this in a tactful way up front prevents disappointment at the crucial customer touchpoint of product/service delivery.

Vocalizing the Things You Do Well

Most businesses have things they excel at, and many businesses fail to vocalize those special interactions. If a furniture store will help you load your furniture and provide you with foam pieces to help prevent scratching, they should talk about this as a service! They could include this in an advertisement or even in the front of their store: “Free loading and complimentary edge protectors – our treat.” This is a small example, and some business owners and executives might think this sounds like excessive self-praise. In reality, this is a vital part of messaging that keeps customers in touch with the things your business is doing correctly. This is especially valuable when your customers’ biggest needs align with a competitive advantage; you must let them know.

Rewarding Good Behavior

Sometimes, the sad reality of business is that difficult customers can be more of a pain than they’re worth. Fortunately, the opposite is also true. Great customers are the ones who love your products/services, are low-maintenance, are reasonable and repeatedly do business with you. Any business adores these types of people, and these special customers need to feel the love! If a customer checks these boxes, let them know how much you enjoy working with them. Additionally, give them something to show they’re appreciated, such as a discount or freebie. This isn’t a haphazard giveaway – it’s an investment in retaining a customer that is simply too helpful to lose.

Soliciting Feedback

Hearing customers’ perspectives is a great way to shape language around your business. Asking for feedback shows you care about their opinion, conveys a sense of constant improvement and, when done correctly, provides you with tangible advice you can apply to improve your business. However, this can’t be done passively – feedback needs to be built into your customer touchpoints and actively pursued.

Don’t Let Short Term Pressure Prevent Long Term Growth

April 17, 2018

Any meaningful undertaking in a business takes time, and time is something most CEOs and executives don’t have. Specifically, they don’t have the lenience of multiple years to execute a large-scale plan or initiative. This time period is simply too long, and shareholders, owners and board members don’t have patience or flexibility to run a multi-year experiment that could result in failure.

Consequently, the exact opposite happens. Instead of long-term flexibility, there is short term rigidity in the form of quarterly growth evaluations. Those with the most responsibility are tasked to move the arrow incrementally and marginally quarter over quarter in order to reassure stakeholders that the company is moving in the right direction. While the importance of stability and incremental improvement is essential to most businesses, this short-term thinking turns a blind eye to the benefit of long term, strategic initiatives. And no initiative creates a greater competitive edge in the current marketplace than customer satisfaction across most industries.

The Fault in Quarterly Revenue and Growth

The biggest issue with quarterly revenue growth is that it can paint a false picture. Seasonality, large-scale economic changes and other unseen forces can affect quarterly growth. Additionally, this type of measurement encourages short term gimmicks to boost sales. Furthermore, this type of measurement discourages long term thinking when the CEO and key stakeholders are under constant, intense pressure to make marginal gains.

As a comparison, imagine if stock portfolios were evaluated on a quarterly basis. Political turmoil, natural dips or other factors that negatively influence the market might give the impression that the market as a whole is on the wrong course due to a temporary dip. This type of measurement doesn’t work, and it shouldn’t be applied to a business either. Year over year trajectory gives a better sense of the true direction of the company, and looking at it this way gives leverage to make long term investments.

A Case for Long Term Thinking

The reality of any customer experience improvement initiative is that it will take time. A few key steps have to happen, including:

  • Consultation and identification of key customer touchpoints
  • Initial measurement and development of a plan for improvement
  • Coaching to improve behaviors
  • Execution and ongoing measurement

Obviously, this doesn’t all happen overnight, nor should it be able to. Longitudinal growth has to be measured and evaluated over many months before any meaningful feedback can be gathered. However, the benefits of an initiative like this are immense and rewarding for the business willing to undergo the process. Customer experience directly leads to ROI in the form of passionate brand advocates and customer retention.

In fact, according to Fast Company, “a 10% increase in customer retention is roughly equivalent to a 30% increase in a company’s value.” This number is staggering — 30%. When a value increase such as this is brought into the perspective of quarterly revenue, it blows expectations out of the water. In fact, this type of steady growth would be appreciated and encouraged over multiple years.

The key takeaway is that quarterly revenue isn’t everything, and, in fact, can be harmful to the overall growth of a company. Major gains take major initiatives, and major initiatives take time. However, the huge upside of this ratio is that there is very little to gamble when considering customer experience. Customer retention is proven across a wide variety of industries to lead to more revenue and more passionate brand advocates, especially when customers are truly delighted. Work with a trusted partner to drive and measure customer experience, and make small but meaningful gains in order to improve the financial wellbeing of your company.

A New Age and New Standard for Customer Experience

April 12, 2018

Perhaps surprisingly, despite the impetus on brands to deliver outstanding customer service, Forrester has reported slipping scores for 2017, and predicts other issues for 2018. As Forrester explains, new tools and transitionary technology, like artificial intelligence, are hurting brands’ customer experience delivery. Additionally, efforts to automate processes, highly aware and marketing-familiar customers and lack of special brand interactions are common culprits for suffering experiences.customer loyalty can't be summed up in a single number

Automation

In efforts to cut costs, a lot of brands have attempted to automate certain processes. These efforts, which include email campaigns, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) phone systems and app-driven systems are helpful for cutting costs and providing customers with the feedback, interaction and information they need. However, sometimes they cause problems. Automated systems run the risk of making customers feel unwanted. This is especially true when an automated system goes wrong. IVR systems that take too long or aren’t intuitive are prime examples of automation run amok because they inconvenience the customer in the name of price cutting.

Ideally, any automated system should be mapped out and thoroughly examined to ensure it will always provide a positive and efficient customer experience. Additionally, other customer touchpoints need to make up for the somewhat sterile environment automated systems can cause.

Heightened Expectations

Consumers are more aware of their value than ever before, and tend to be more brand-agnostic when customer experience isn’t excellent. They know their value and expect their value to be reciprocated in the form of attentive customer service, small favors when things go awry and a longitudinal perspective on their relationship with the brand they interact with. In particular, Millennials tend to be more sensitive and skeptical to aggressive sales pitches and shameless self-promotion on brands’ ends. Instead, they want concrete value propositions and a sense of brand pride and identity they will want to align themselves with.

Campaign notes that brands need to align themselves with a greater social purpose and mission, rather than simply selling quality goods/services for a profit. This is another example of heightened expectations – the requirement of brands to establish missions and convey that mission through their marketing and interactions.

Failing to Create Special Moments

Too many brands are failing to create truly special, stand-out moments. They think of customer experience through a lens of pain avoidance, and don’t always consider maximizing a positive experience.

A good example of this is product delivery. Brands may prioritize customer service goals like delivering on-time, assuring their products are high-quality, and anything else that avoids angering the customer, which is good. However, initiatives like trying to help the customer maximize their use of the product/service can really help differentiate their enjoyment and overall experience. Consider the example of a software provider: How well does a given software provider help their customers truly make sense of their software? Are customers delighted by how easy it is to use after a tutorial? Can they reach out in the future and easily get answers to their questions? These elements differentiate brands.

Even something as simple as a pay-at-the-counter pizza shop can learn from this lesson: Pizza shop workers can inquire about the customers’ night and ask if they’re having a family movie night, as an example, and let them know the pizza provider hopes they enjoy spending time together. This example is a simple gesture, but brand differentiation often comes down to small, specific actions. Make sure you’re taking the time to make each moment special in order to separate your brand from the pack.

The Bigger Picture of Customer Touchpoints

April 4, 2018

Mapping and analyzing the customer journey is common practice for most marketers. Each point along the customer journey, from a customer’s first contact with a brand (maybe through an ad or word of mouth) to a parting interaction, is identified and analyzed as a “customer touchpoint.”cross-departmental collaboration can't happen without the right leadership

Generally, touchpoints are assessed and improved on a case-by-case basis. Take the example of a supermarket checkout – a quintessential customer touchpoint. Most supermarkets and retail stores have taken time to maximize the checkout process in order to create a great customer experience, potentially upsell and make the process time-efficient. This is great! However, many businesses get tunnel vision and forget to ask themselves questions about the bigger picture of the customer touchpoints. How do all the pieces fit together? Does the journey make sense? What parts of the customer journey are unnecessary? Next time you’re looking at your organization’s customer journey, consider the following:

Flow of Touchpoints

Touchpoints need to make chronological sense to the consumer. For example, when a customer has just purchased, they should be getting an email about how satisfied they are with their purchase, or information about how to get the best use out of their product. Or, when a consumer is considering making a purchase, they should be getting deals and reasons to buy. Imagine the opposite – you just purchased a hot tub, are trying to figure out how to get it installed, look in your email inbox, and see an advertisement for the hot tub you just purchased. Having chronologically-confused touchpoints makes consumers feel like the brand doesn’t care about them. Similarly, it fails to make important connections that help the customer and establish brand loyalty. One touchpoint should flow into another in a sophisticated, time-sensitive and logical manner.

Understanding Various Customer Paths

Different customers have different journeys and interactions with a brand. Let’s use the example of a hot tub again. A customer who is buying a hot tub for their lodge vacation home will have a significantly different set of expectations than a commercial real estate developer looking to purchase 50 hot tubs for a condominium complex. Both customers might work with the same hot tub vendor, but we have different customer journeys and needs.

Market research helps brands segment their different customers and audiences in order to understand anything from digital preferences to the actual products/services those different segments buy. By looking at different customer segments, brands can create unique customer journey maps for each type of customer. Additionally, very similar customers may still experience different customer journeys. This is especially true on the front end. One customer purchasing a hot tub may see an advertisement and move to purchase online by the end of the week. On the other hand, her neighbor may hear about the hot tub from her, contemplate buying one for her own backyard for months, and seek out a physical location to look at the tub before purchasing. These two neighbors may have similar demographics (age, income, location) but their customer journeys were very different (ad versus personal referral, purchasing within a week versus multiple months, purchasing online versus in-store). The world of customer journeys can be wide, and each individual route should be accounted for and perfected.

Cutting Unnecessary Interactions

Quite simply, if a customer touchpoint doesn’t add value, it should be eliminated. Customer interactions should be productive, informative, persuasive, or all of the above.

It’s worth noting that “necessary” is difficult to define. Present-day marketing strives for regular contact between brand and consumer, and most brands try to create a culture around the products/services they offer. In this sense, there are touchpoints that are simply meant to bring the brand closer to its customers (think about a content marketing “how-to” piece, where a brand that sells cooking products might show how to create a unique recipe). These touchpoints are still viable. However, any touchpoint that is redundant, wastes consumers’ time or doesn’t add value to the experience can and should be eliminated.

Blind Spots: Customer Experience

March 20, 2018

When businesses promote a product or service, they focus on the key customer touchpoints when thinking about customer experience. Times like first contact/awareness of a product, purchase point, and utilizing a product or service for the first time come to mind. These are the obvious, meat-and-potatoes aspects of the customer experience marketers focus on. However, most companies overlook special opportunities or vulnerabilities in their customer experience. Specific times lend themselves to capitalizing on happy customers (soliciting reviews or establishing a long term relationship) while other moments are particularly vulnerable to jeopardizing the overall customer experience. Consider the following blind spots the next time you review your customer experience.

Onboarding

Most direct-to-consumer products do a good job of transitioning the customer from awareness to further investigation. This “onboarding” period is after a potential customer becomes aware (e.g., seeing an ad) and is investigating the product further. This next step, which is often a landing page on a website, should easily segue the customer from the ad to providing more information about the product/service. Contrary to B2C products, however, B2B services tend to struggle in this category. Often, there is a disconnect between B2B service providers’ websites and what they actually do. Small consulting and marketing firms often have outdated websites that don’t reflect their approach to speaking with a new prospective client. What would your B2B service say to a potential new customer if they called? Your website should reflect this, and you should review your website often to make sure your introductory language relates.

Sequencing of Communications

Most businesses utilize email marketing to solicit and retain customers. However, many simply blast advertisements to their customers after they’ve purchased, rather than carefully curating and designing a conversation. When a potential customer is looking at purchasing for the first time, advertising should offer them a great incentive to purchase. After they purchase, a discount or promotion should help to bring them back again. When they make an exchange or have product issues, customer service should be there to help. Customers need an appropriate sequence of communications to truly build a partnership with a brand.

Building a Relationship

Usually, a set of products or services is designed to build a long term relationship. An outdoors store may have a variety of camping gear designed to take beginners and make them customers for life. However, the relationship goes beyond the products and services themselves. Businesses should proactively help develop a partnership by offering information, such as helpful tools, purely informational emails or how-to assistance. In that light, customer support shows commitment to the customer beyond the transaction itself, and builds long-term loyalty. Additionally, brands should always try to establish a culture and be in touch with the personal wants and needs of customers.

Seizing Opportunities

A final major blind spot for businesses is the failure to seize opportunities when customers are delighted. This usually comes after a great product or service experience. What is your business doing to leverage that great experience for future purchases? Helping customers make the most of their products/services can help create passionate followers who will share the experience with others. Great online reviews result in monetary gain for most businesses, so taking opportunities of delight to solicit a positive review should never be overlooked. Additionally, getting customers to promote your product/service via social media is much more likely when the customer is satisfied and feels a connection to your product/service, and that connection deeply impacts their life and sense of happiness. Brands and companies that seize these opportunities will find themselves in an upward spiral of positive customer feedback, promotion and recycling.

 

What Defines Customer Experience?



Often, we think of customer experience across the entirety of the customer journey. We analyze each point and try to maximize the experience as best we can. However, all moments are not created equal. There are specific moments that leave impressions on customers. Specifically, the ends and the extremes of the customer experience stick with them. When you’re looking to improve your customer experience with your product/service, start by considering the beginning, high point, low point and end of the customer journey.

First Impressions

First impressions are important to customer experience because they define the customer’s expectations. When a potential customer learns about a product or service, they initially begin to develop an impression about a prospective experience. This first impression can come in many forms — a referral from a friend, an advertisement, an online article or even an online review. Regardless, the potential customer begins to develop expectations about what it will be like when they get the product or service, including how it will make their lives better. Copywriters usually focus on the single biggest competitive advantage a product has in order to lure customers in and ensure that when they purchase, that competitive advantage is top-of-mind and (assuming the product/service delivers on that advantage) delights the customer.

If a consumer decides to purchase a product or service, that means they have high expectations. They’re already convinced it’s worth opening up their wallet. The ability to meet those high expectations is the first major point of customer experience.

Peaks

High points are an important part of the customer experience. Usually, this is the best part of the experience, or where the core value of the product or service is delivered. If we’re thinking of a chocolate bar, it’s the moment the consumer bites in and experiences the flavor for the first time. If we’re thinking of an internet service provider, it’s the moment the consumer connects for the first time and streams a movie with high speed.

Peaks are the special opportunities to delight a customer. Sometimes, businesses overlook the importance of these moments. Most businesses know when their peaks are, and rather than capitalize on the moment, they turn their attention to problem areas. However, this misses an opportunity. Businesses should drive home these peaks with further enhancement, like timing peaks with opportunities for a customer review, or having a representative follow up to see how they’re enjoying the peak moment. Peaks are golden opportunities to obtain passionate brand advocates who help spread word about your product or service.

Valleys

Most executives and directors focus their attention on the valleys of their goods/services. These are the “low” moments that disappoint and frustrate. If we consider the example of the chocolate bar, a valley might be when the consumer opens the wrapper only to find the bar melted. In the example of internet service, a valley would be an outage or issues getting the internet properly installed and having to go weeks without.

Businesses tend to focus on these weak areas, and this focus is important. Valleys can turn an otherwise satisfied customer off for good. Hitting a critical point of lowness can put customers over the edge and move them mentally to a place that is beyond repair. By focusing on improving valleys, businesses can leave the door open to repair and improve experiences with their customers in the future.

Parting Ways

Perhaps the most lasting impression customers maintain are at the end of an experience with a service or product. This is particularly true in B2B or B2C services. For example, a customer getting their oil changed may remember a free air freshener placed in their car, getting their vehicle back early or a complimentary car wash. This parting gift leaves a good taste in their mouth, and will be the first thing they think of when they need their oil changed again. Whether the experience or product delivery is good or bad, a parting favor or gesture is always appreciated. The end of the customer journey is a great place to start for businesses looking to improve their overall customer experience.

Measurements of Coaching Effectiveness

February 21, 2018

Coaching in the workplace is central to a successful business. Happy employees, satisfied customers and continuous improvement in an increasingly sophisticated and competitive landscape are all essential benefits of a strong coaching culture. Sometimes, it can be difficult for managers and directors to know if their coaching is effective. How can they know if they’re making a difference? What are indicators of good versus poor coaching? Consider some of the following measurements of good coaching:

Employee Retention

A huge indicator of effective coaching is employee retention. When employees are happy, they stay with their jobs. Effective coaching gives employees a sense of control over their own destinies by giving them the tools they need to succeed. Clear feedback, actionable instructions and a sense of progress all contribute to a satisfied employee who wants stay put. Effective coaching certainly isn’t the only factor in employee retention – demand for skills, salaries and benefits all play a role. However, any organization can improve its employee retention with strong coaching.

Client Retention

A company’s ability to maintain clients and customers is a huge indicator of how well management does at coaching. Every organization’s management team has a vision in mind for a client or customer experience, but the execution of their vision comes down to their ability to coach. Teaching specific behaviors and giving employees confidence in their customer/client interactions helps manifest the ideal client experience. Consider a financial institution: When a potential customer walks into a branch, what is the most pertinent information they’re looking for? What are their preoccupations about opening an account? How should the staff interact with this new customer, and what information should they be provided? In what order? All of these details are coachable opportunities that can help gain new clients and maintain existing relationships.

Employee Progress

Staff should have a constant sense of improvement in their roles. Regular meetings with a workplace coach can help them focus on small, specific behaviors and give them actions to take. These coaching sessions allow for constructive conversations, where behaviors can be tweaked. Rather than employees being concerned about infrequent (e.g., annual) meetings where their overall performance is criticized, they know feedback will be specific and help them understand if their performance is off-base.

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Innovation is difficult to measure, but is incredibly obvious when a strong culture is established. In a positive feedback loop, innovative thinking is welcomed, acted upon and rewarded, encouraging more innovation. Employees should feel like they have ownership over the tasks and responsibilities they oversee on a daily basis. When they feel like they have a sense of ownership, they will want to improve and fine-tune those processes.

Importantly, managers and directors shouldn’t underestimate the value of employee innovation. Often, these individuals have insight into processes that managers will overlook, due to the high-level nature of their work. When staff can create change within their organization, they enable themselves to do better work, feel like an appreciated member of their organization and look for future opportunities to improve the way their approach to their workplace roles.

The Shifting Landscape of a Workplace Coach



The rules of management are changing with an evolving workplace. Managers have the difficult task of creating work cultures that are more agile than ever before. Consider the way most businesses are shaping themselves: Flexibility and innovation are highly valued and integrated into the fabrics of businesses. Similarly, managers’ coaching styles need to reflect these changes. In order to create a competitive company culture, managers need to get the best out of their employees by giving the most relevant coaching possible in 2018.

Millennials Want More Coaching

According to Harvard Business Review, Millennials want to be coached more often than their older counterparts, usually preferring monthly feedback, if not more often. Managers and directors should be thrilled with this prospect. Open lines of communication and transparency give Millennials a better sense of how their current performance is perceived, helps hold them accountable, gives them more material and learning opportunities to improve, and helps align expectations so that both parties know what is expected.

For most managers, it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks and business goals. However, in 2018, managers should put coaching at the top of their priority lists. A growing culture of eager-to-learn employees who want increased feedback is a unique shift in attitude and opportunity for growth.

Revenue-Oriented Coaching

Coaching needs to teach a variety of skills, and while the skills themselves are important, coaching with a sense of revenue enhancement is essential to keep employees connected to the way their work helps the financial health of the business. For B2B enterprises, account managers and client services teams are working more closely together than ever before in order to create a greater understanding between the delivery of goods/services and the impact client satisfaction has on the bottom line. For financial institutions, coaching should be framed around creating valuable and mutually beneficial relationships with customers. When employees can make a connection to the financial implications of their work, they will strive to achieve difference-making results.

Emotional Navigator

There is a heightened expectation for managers to be emotionally sensitive and to navigate workplace emotions in a tactful way. Gone are the days of bosses and managers coming down hard on employees and establishing a sink-or-swim culture. Instead, managers and coaches are expected to be collaborators and partners in employees’ success. In action, this means managers should create two-way conversations during coaching sessions, offer solutions and templates for employee success and solicit feedback about how their coaching can improve from employees.

A Combination of Hard and Soft Skills

Continuous learning in the workplace has traditionally meant developing a craft or set of technical skills. This is still true – technical skills are becoming increasingly important in a workplace that demands skills, like the ability to code or understand analytics interfaces. However, managers shouldn’t overlook coaching soft skills. Leadership, client communication and networking skills are all in high demand. Younger employees are looking for managers who have the capacity to help them develop those skills and serve as mentors for their careers. In this way, managers can be so much more than instruction-givers. They can become integral parts of their employees’ personal success and long-term career trajectory, adding value to the human they work with and reaping the reciprocal benefits of a happy and growing employee.

Financial Services in 2018

January 16, 2018

2018 will be the year of customer intimacy, among other innovations in financial services. Specifically, this coming year will be defined by the mainstream leveraging of customer data to influence communication, sales and positively impact the customer experience. Here are a few major trends to keep a pulse on this year:

Customer analytics

Data analytics in financial institutions have been around for some time, but 2018 will see a major expansion of data being directly used as a sales method. Specifically, financial institutions will utilize customer data to promote new products in a way that is tailored to the individual customer. In the example of a mortgage, financial institutions will utilize more personalized information to educate customers about loans based on their specific financial circumstances, and use customer data to provide a roadmap and recommendation for how to proceed. Financial institutions will be able to provide more personalized solutions in 2018 than ever before, and enterprises that communicate intimate customer knowledge will gain a competitive edge with high consumer expectations.

Seamless customer journey

Financial institutions will seek to improve customer journey mapping and put it as one of their top priorities in 2018. In an increasingly digital landscape, many financial institutions have utilized technology to cut expenditure and give the customer more autonomy. However, the various channels customers now use to interact with their financial institutions makes the customer journey increasingly complicated. Financial institutions that pay close attention to the customer journey will reap the benefits of a high-performing customer experience, which creates cohesion and fluidity among various channels. Data-driven, detail-oriented touchpoint analysis will help perfect every single customer touchpoint and create brand advocates for the financial institutions that invest time and care.

Additionally, credit unions and banks will work to consolidate customer touchpoints and provide a more cohesive and rewarding customer experience. The universal banker will be key in increasing customer satisfaction by providing a wide variety of capabilities from a single representative. 2018 will be the year that the universal banker truly manifests and becomes an industry standard.

A multi-channel experience

More and more, digital touchpoints will serve as the primary identity for financial institutions. For a long time, branch interactions have been the most important touchpoint for customers. Now, more customers will define their financial institution’s value by the quality of its digital touchpoints, such as online and mobile. They will look for answers to their needs via mobile apps, expect high quality customer service in online chats or by phone and will expect to have sophisticated analytics and interfaces at their fingertips to help them manage their finances.

Comprehensive financial advising

In light of unification as a trend for 2018, consumers expect expanded competencies from their financial institutions. Particularly, Millennial consumers, who are developing personal finance habits with technology in mind, desire greater cohesion between their financial institution and their financial goals. Rather than perceiving retirement savings, personal budgets, financial institutions and educational expenses as separate entities, they want these interdependent elements to be analyzed and advised holistically through their financial institutions. Analytics will shape the financial advising experience. Customers will look to their financial institutions for recommendations and data-driven advice, but will also expect platforms on which they can self-regulate and inform their own financial goals.

Fintech partnerships

Financial technology is rampant and highly valued by consumers in areas such as payment processing, personal finance and digital wallets, such as Venmo. In order to keep up with this new technology and maintain relevance and usefulness to consumers, 82% of financial institutions plan to actively pursue partnerships with Fintech companies, according to thefinancialbrand.com. Banks and credit unions will work to make their software compatible with Fintech software, and leverage Fintech as a low-cost way to provide ample value to customer needs. Customer experience research will tell financial institutions what their customers need (and lack), and this investigation will help prescribe appropriate partnerships to drive financial institutions forward.

Blockchain technology

Bitcoin’s debate of viability and regulation has gained headlines in recent weeks. However, blockchain, the framework behind Bitcoin’s basic functionality, is becoming a major player in 2018. Blockchain’s lack of centralized control and built-in transparency make it applicable for a wide variety of industries, especially financial services. Quicker trading; cheaper and more transparent exchanges; and streamlined, self-defined identification techniques are just a few of the ways blockchain will impact financial services in 2018.

Customer Experience in 2018



Welcome back! With the holidays officially over and the new year in full swing, it’s time to think about 2018 and how customer experience expectations and innovations will evolve. CSP predicts four major advances in customer experience for 2018, including:

  • Personalization of experiences
  • Tactical data
  • Unification of touchpoints and services
  • Emotional expectations from customers

Let’s dive in!

Personalization of experiences

According to CNBC, and the business world as a whole, artificial intelligence will make a major impact in consumer interaction in 2018. Specifically, Amazon’s Alexa sets the tone for voice-controlled services and AI assistants. Consumers are becoming more familiar with AI assistants, whether through interactive voice response systems or online troubleshooters.

However, AI is one small element of a greater picture: Personalization of experiences will be a dominant force in 2018. For the past few years, companies have been revolutionizing customer experiences by tailoring services. Netflix recommends shows you might like, Starbucks offers customer-tailored email promotions, and the iPhone X recognizes your facial ID. More importantly, consumers now expect these customizations – it’s no longer novel.

Tactical data

In recent history, data has served major company decisions to help develop new products and provide rationale for major initiatives. In 2018, successful enterprises will think in terms of small, specific applications of data. Companies will leverage data to perfect and align their different customer touchpoints. Analytics will help companies measure customer success, and companies will openly solicit feedback to improve specific business interactions. This advancement is due to increased sophistication of data analysts and a more agile conversion of raw data to actionable insights. Expect 2018 to see increased interaction among product development, marketing and data – where silos begin to break down and marketing departments requests tactical data projects from their analytics teams.

Unification of touchpoints and services

CSP has written about the universal banker for a while, but the template the universal banker creates applies to most industries, especially in 2018. The universal banker is a jack-of-all-trades bank representative who can handle anything from traditional teller tasks to a small business loan. The benefit of the universal banker is having a single representative able to help a customer from the moment they walk in the door (or call, or communicate online), until their needs are met. The single-touchpoint solution creates a more satisfactory and comfortable customer experience, and other industries are catching on. Enterprises across a wide variety of industries are creating one-stop solutions and training broad employee capabilities to meet consumer needs. Call centers are working harder to avoid department transfers. Traditional clothing retailers are broadening their inventory to include grooming merchandise. Even workplaces are offering broader services, like advanced kitchens and fitness facilities, to attract employees. Expect 2018 to be a year of broadening offerings and reducing touchpoints – all to create a cohesive, one-stop experience designed to delight consumers.

Emotional expectations from customers

In 2018, brands will be more in-tune with their customers’ feelings than ever before. Specifically, they will navigate their strategy based on customer emotion. This is especially true for B2B enterprises. Professional services, marketing firms and analytics consulting companies will focus on delivering stress-free experiences for clients, and simplifying the business relationship to gain a competitive advantage in client satisfaction. Likewise, B2C enterprises will focus on short wait times, employee education and online clarity of communication to create an easy customer experience.

CSP would like to wish everyone an energizing and successful 2018. Thank you for working with us!