It’s a new year, and with it comes a vast array of insights in the form of predictions, trends and recommendations for customer experience strategies in 2014. I scoured the millions of predictions and trends articles across the Internet (okay, so maybe not millions, but it sure felt like it). Here’s a summary of things that captured my attention, and will yours.
To list all the different predictions would be foolish, there are way too many of them. But when it comes to customer experience strategies there were definitely some running themes which were great to see.
Customer Experience Predictions
The Tempkin Group offered up 14 predictions for 2014. Among the key ones were more customer journey mapping, better collection of Voice of the Customer program feedback using things like topic specific surveys, comments on surveys, contact center calls, social media conversations and chats with agents, the evolution of contact centers into what Tempkin called Relationship Hubs (to improve customer loyalty), and integration of customer behavior data. He also mentioned design thinking, finding purpose and empathy – his CX word for 2014.
David Raab, of Raab Associates, Inc., added to the idea of the integration of customer data outlining trends such as the maturing of customer data platforms which will offer consolidated, multi-source customer databases (without the need for IT). He also said that predictive analytics will take center stage. Many of these themes were seen across a number of predictions and trends, and I spoke with a few vendors that mentioned a couple of these as well.
2014 is the year organizations really start to focus on the “omni-channel”. They get the need for customer experience strategies; they get the need for mobile and social. Cross-channel strategies have been deployed. Now they need to settle down and really listen to their customers, understand their behaviors and support them as they move across different channels – both online and offline.
The CMO and the CIO
The discussion continues on the roles the CMO and CIO will play in organizations in 2014. IDC offered some predictions in a recent CMSWire article on how the role of the CMO is changing. According to IDC, 80% of customer data collected is currently wasted and there are too many fragmented marketing products. This points to the need for better integrated systems that can leverage all the data collected. IDC also noted that only 20% of marketers will receive formal training in analytics and customer data management this year. That’s a disappointing number considering how critical analytics are in developing digital marketing plans.
Accenture has a new report out that talks about the disconnect between the CIO and CMO. The report notes that these two must work closely together to ensure the success of the business.
“In fact, marketing is so inextricably linked to technology that by 2017, CMOs are projected to spend more money on information technology and analytics than CIOs, a remarkable development considering that CMOs regard digital orientation as their weakest capability-at the exact moment when it needs to be their strongest.”
Five imperatives are identified that will improve alignment and build trust between the CMO and CIO, including the need for marketing to accept IT as a strategic partner, and to agree on key business levers that will align the two groups. Lots of info packed in their report, so have a look.
Content Marketing Predictions
Diving in a little deeper, I saw tons of content marketing predictions across the board, but who better to get the best scoop than from the CMI Institute. Of course, it went out to the large group of content marketers it works with. Here are a few of the 50 content marketing predictions in its 2014 predictions eBook.
Julie Fleischer of Kraft Foods, predicts the use of short-form content using tools like Vine, Instagram and others, “2014 will be the year of short form sound, sight and motion.” She wasn’t alone in this prediction of short-form content – it was a running theme through the eBook.
Robert Rose, from CMI Institute and Digital Clarity Group, predicts the strategies behind paid, owned and earned content will continue to merge and that we will see many organizations building their own internal team to manage content marketing strategies.
Michael Brenner of SAP notes that we will see true content partnerships between business and publishers – the co-creation of sponsored content, and Mike Weir from LinkedIn says that real-time marketing will take hold with more organizations participating in conversations.
Val Swisher of Content Rules, Inc. predicts that more content will be translated as organizations start to understand that an English-only strategy is not going to cut it in an international market. And finally, Ahava Leibtag of AHA Media Group predicts more strategy, aligning content creation with business objectives.
Social Media Marketing Predictions
These predictions come from a group of experts via the Social Media Examiner. There are eleven predictions in all, but of them my favorites include Jay Baer’s prediction that native ads/sponsorships (what he calls Advertial 2.0) will become a major part of the social media marketing mix.
Neal Schaffer speaks about employee advocacy, saying that it will become a strategic initiative for organizations this year. As everyone always says, your employees are your biggest fans (or they should be anyway).
Nick Robinson predicts that A/B testing tools for social media will become more widespread, and as a result, we’ll see great improvement in the quality of content shared.
Supporting The Social Customer
The Altimeter Group put out 6 predictions that focused on organizing around the social customer. Many of these predictions are noted in other articles around the web and include things like the use of marketing automation tools for real-time marketing, the increased importance of email marketing, and the promise of Social CRM being fulfilled.
The predictions also speak to putting the customer experience at the center of business operations, moving it out of a marketing only realm. Again, this is a key, and critical, theme for 2014.
Final Note to Kick Off 2014
I could go on and on here listing predictions, noting expected trends. 2013 saw much improvement in how organizations recognized and adapted their business models to support customer experience strategies. But as far as we’ve come, there’s still a long way to go. The biggest challenge is keeping up with it all without feeling the need to implement new techniques and tools before understanding their true value.
How each organization approaches customer experience is different, but there are underlying themes we should be able to learn from. I look forward to seeing those and bringing them to you.