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Empathica Inc., a provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to restaurants and other industries, predicts that 2013 will be a pivotal year for improving customer relationships. The company is making this prediction based on the increased demand for its insights solutions.
Empathica has identified four CEM trends emerging so far in 2013.
1. Omnichannel customer feedback. Brands today understand the importance of connecting with and surveying consumers through mediums including QR code scans, text alerts and emails. Most businesses, however, are unable to effectively leverage the information collected because this omnichannel feedback is often treated separately. This makes for a disjointed customer experience, and an overwhelming amount of disconnected feedback for businesses. In 2013, more businesses will implement technology that has the capability to track the customer through the entire purchasing experience and engage on an omnichannel level.
2. Importance of unsolicited feedback alongside survey data. Customer feedback is beneficial to both brands and customers. For customers, reviews on websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor help them make an informed decision about restaurants. For businesses, online surveys and call center data provide valuable insights into what areas of the business are working and what areas need improvement. However, these customer satisfaction ratings from various mediums are often kept separate. Businesses in 2013 will see these disparate sources brought together to help their employees listen to customers — regardless of how the information is collected.
3. A new experience focus. The shape of CEM is changing as consumers demand service quality as much as product quality. Brands have to rediscover that selling products often requires attentive staff in a great atmosphere that inherently makes the customer feel more attractive, healthy or happy – these have become "table stakes." For example, consumers are reinforced in their choice of Starbucks by the way the Barista and atmosphere makes them feel. The challenge for all enterprises this year is to figure out how to measure those feelings and improve the customer experience on a local level. Once a brand better understands what branded behaviors are enforcing this social currency, it can either build on those behaviors through reinforcement and validation, or change those behaviors to create a more desirable experience.
4. Big data personalization. Insights collected from big data (large and complex data sets) do not initially appear to be helpful to managers at individual locations of multiunit brands. However, these insights do often offer interesting and reliable information or advice. The key for local brand managers is to understand how to use general customer insights and then personalize it at the local level. Brands can provide both reliable research-based advice and local coaching to unit operators on their issues in order to address or correct them. In turn, the customer increasingly wants a degree of personalization as well.
"The challenge in 2013 is the ability to collect feedback through various channels ranging from comment cards and social media, and to successfully use that data to achieve the age-old customer experience goal of personalization," said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. "Brands need to understand that technology has changed the expectation of the customer. They are in constant contact with brands and peers through social media, so transparency is important when creating a base of loyal customers. A continuous open dialogue between brands and consumers is key in 2013."
Read more about customer experience.