Predictions2020: The Year Ahead For Customer Experience

By Ziad Ghorayeb, managing director of Isobar

Technology is changing human behaviour. It is changing the way we travel, how we shop, how we manage our financial lives, the way we take care of our own health and, most importantly, how way we engage with brands every day. It has permanently transformed our expectations, enabling us to work more efficiently and live much healthier, socially-connected lives. But with this rise in customer expectation comes a new set of challenges for marketers. How will brands keep up with the pace at which customer expectations change? With technology triggering rapidly diminishing differences in  product, price and service functionality, how will brands be able to differentiate and rise above the competition and stand out among the rest?

The answer has come in the form of customer experience (CX). It had become the only point of meaningful differentiation for brands. In the past few years we’ve seen CX become a top priority for marketers who started shifting their budgets and investing in omni-channel CX initiatives to get to know their customers better, and then use this knowledge to deliver highly personalised experiences across the entire customer journey. Furthermore, what helped deliver better CX is the rise in customers willing to provide personal information in exchange for receiving relevant suggestions for products and services that are specific to their needs.

Now, as CX becomes increasingly commoditised, investment in technology alone can no longer ensure long-term successfor brands. We know there are many tools available to create great customer experiences for brands; from technology platforms to marketing automation software and AI-assistants. However, in a world where brand experiences are becoming interchangeable, creativity and design have become critical for differentiation and for providing customer experiences that truly stand out.

Ziad Ghorayeb, Managing Director at Isobar speaks on Customer Experience at Campaign’s Marcomms360 conference on Predictions2020.

Creative experience is an evolution of CX to create distinct and connected experiences that create a place for brands to live in people’s lives. Creative experience sits at the intersection of data, creativity and technology and delivers holistic, highly crafted, customer-centric brand moments that provide utility around the customers and their specific needs. These experiences are inspired by insights that use storytelling to resonate emotionally, whilst leveraging technology to unlock products and services that deliver value. We believe 2020 is going to be an exciting year for CX, and here’s a look at three trends that will define marketers’ CX strategies in the future:

1. Smart fusion of creativity and technology
Only through the smart fusion of creativity and technology will marketers be able to deliver a superior experience that doesn’t just digitalise experience, but distinguishes, transforms and augments brand experience beyond what was previously possible. Isobar’s latest CMO survey ranked ‘creativity and ideation’ the most important factor to the success of the business in the next two to three years. creativity will be receiving the lion’s share of investment, with 73 per cent of CMOs agreeing that cutting through the noise requires ‘more investment in creativity and big ideas’. This shift in balance to enabling creativity to support technology investments will lead to making the technology investments work to their maximum potential.

2. Investing in commerce through a direct-to-consumer platform strategy
We believe creative experience is also critically important to driving commerce, as the gap between brand inspiration and brand transaction has never been closer and customers demand simplicity in experience. To win the battle with CX, many retailers will diversify their commerce strategies and invest in direct-to-consumer omnichannel platforms. DTC platforms most likely will not immediately provide the revenue and growth or financial ROI that marketplaces can. However, they can provide the much-needed data for a 360-degree view of the customer to provide one-to-one personalisation and superior creative experiences. They enable businesses to truly engage with customers across segments, listen to them and drive brand loyalty.

3. Humanising data
AI has been a central topic on the business agenda for some years and has been the subject of countless conferences and exhibitions as people navigate risks and capitalise on its potential. In 2020 we’ll continue to see the narrative shift from ‘the robots are taking our jobs’ to a more rationalised view that explores the benefits of an ‘intelligence’ that can review clusters of data for complicated tasks and complete mundane operations to free time for more stimulating work, and even surprise us with content and creativity.

To ensure CX success marketers will need to shift their thinking around technology, data and  creativity. Technology and the response it draws can be an addictive medium for customers who demand that brand experiences connect with them emotionally to get cut-through. Marketers need to view data and technology as a fuel for creativity – not an adversary – because it enables brands to imagine the future.