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Predictions 2020: Digital Innovation and Thought Leadership Shaping CX

… where CX = Customer Experience
Before you decide on whether or not you should be reading this piece, know this:
Some 86% of buyers reported that they would gladly pay more for what your company is offering if they were given a nice customer experience to go with it.
So important is customer experience, companies surveyed by Adobe for the year 2020 are all focused on customer experience more than even content and social media marketing. We don’t need to spell it out, but this is not one of those new buzzwords that every industry professional is throwing around just to sound cool. Heading into the new decade, what are the new plays that will shape the direction of growth of Customer Experience?

The Digital Innovation Landscape

As we have always maintained, there has been a solid shift from how marketing is being done. Thus, the birth of digital innovations. However, that has created the new streams of problems that these businesses are failing to tackle. When we talk digital, businesses are quick to jump on the buzzword and claim the refinement of their operation in such a way that it can be scaled to go online. What they leave out of the mix is the obvious need for digital improvement and innovations within their products too. For example, automobile industry customers have been making a complaint for years now, and it seems no manufacturer has found a way to quell it.

Funnily, this does not refer to any of the functional parts that a car should come with. Putting things in context, customers seem to be just fine with the engine power and build, transmission, braking and just about everything else – but they would not stand for the infotainment system that comes with their vehicles.

While automobile manufacturers are winning the race of improved car handling and performance, their customers are more concerned about how they are digitally connected to these huge pieces of machinery for their everyday living. This shows you just how much of an attention to detail has to go into understanding the consumer behavior – and making things right.

What all of these suggest is simple:
Companies are doing their best to introduce new pieces of technology and digitization to the entire process but they are more legacy-based than they are customer-oriented. At the end of the day, these digital innovations will only help to increase the efficiency of their processes and streamline the workflow, but it won’t necessarily bring any new value to the customer’s table. This begs the question of what the companies can do. For one, what they should not do is look for new digital channels to launch into their business. That will just contribute to the current mess when what we should be doing is finding a way to tidy things up instead.

In that case, valuable suggestion includes:

  • Identification of Customer Needs – Many companies jump onto the digital train not because they know how much they need to be on that ride, but because they don’t want to be left out by the competition. That could not be more selfish to the consumers who are looking to get the best value from such a business.
  • As is evident above, there are different customer needs to be explored, and they should all be taken into consideration. This will most likely differ by industry and sector, so a well-thought-out customer research program should be planned to get things going. Once that is covered…
  • Implement a strategy – Pushing the responsibility between different positions and departments in the organization is the recipe for customer experience program failures.
  • Within the company, roles should be defined for what departments and key players are directly involved in the development and implementation of a better customer experience strategy. Sales, marketing and such other departments need to know their place, and how they are to contribute to the entire process too. This will make sure no one gets in the way of the other – or leaves a task hanging for the other, just because.
  • Dumping legacy – Traditions are nothing but peer pressure from memories and/ or figures of our pasts, and they should be let go when they no longer serve the bigger picture.
  • Apple, for example, is known to release only premium phones. But, with the release of the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 for two years running now, that narrative has changed.
  • Although still sold at relatively high prices, they have understood the need to spread the Apple ecosystem canopy to users of different pocket sizes, and that has done well for the company’s customer base in recent times. If there is anything that should be changed to better the customer journey, you bet it should be changed.
  • Measure, Rinse, and Repeat – It is estimated that 25% of CX leaders will lose their jobs in the year 2020, and it doesn’t even have to do with how good they are on paper. If they are not seen to be adding any value to the company, they should be best let go anyways.
  • That is why you have to develop KPIs before implementing the strategy, as well as ways to measure them too. Otherwise, you could have the perfect strategy and not even know how to best communicate with your direct uplines on how great what you are doing is.
  • An important takeaway from this section is that 55% of businesses believe they have less than a year to implement a solid digital transformation strategy – lest they suffer financial and market share loss. That is no reason to panic, but one that should spur you to take action.

Where Thought Leadership Comes In

Wait a minute. What does your thought leadership have to do with customer experience at all?

A lot, if you ask us.
We find it very interesting that many businesses owners and top company executives recognize the three most important steps in the customer journey:

  • Pre-purchase
  • Purchase and
  • Post-purchase phases

What we find most disheartening, though, is how they tend to focus on just the final phase, leaving the first two to chance most of the time. If that sounds like your current business, you are losing more revenue than you even know.

We hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but up to 75% of customers are extra motivated to buy from a company that:

  • Addresses them by their name (pre-purchase phase) and
  • Knows their purchase history (purchase phase), among other things.

So, how does thought leadership factor into all of these?

As of now, many companies are only focusing their thought leadership efforts on the customers which they have already converted. This is not the same with a content calendar that considers everything about the customer, right from the point before they purchased to well after they have made the purchase.

Referencing the opening statement, the research conducted by Adobe showed that customer experience was a leading trend for most companies. However, the statement also supported the fact that content marketing is not far behind either.

Instead of seeing these two as parallel lines that do not meet, start seeing them as the two sides of a coin. They might never see each other, but they work for a common goal – providing a sense of value that has been attached to such a coin. Of course, getting this done does not just happen overnight. Likewise, it takes more than restructuring the whole content plan.
Collaboration has to happen with all the stages of operation within the company to drive thought leadership. To do this will be going back to the very root of what thought leadership is – identifying the pain points which no one else is seeing within the industry, and addressing them with such elaborate insights as to endear the customers to you. Even if it was a previously identified pain point, it should be approached with fresh eyes for your defined audience.

Speaking of collaboration, the customer experience team will be better served by data from the marketing and sales department. Instead of always going the way of “X ways to convert to the new Y product upgrade,’ better informative pieces like “X reasons why you aren’t upgrading yet – and why they shouldn’t be an issue’. That brings about deeper brand loyalty, now that you have taken all the customer fears and tackled them right out of the equation.
Of course, the above suggestion does not work for all industries – depending on your unique product and service offerings – but it does offer insights into how your thought leadership could be geared to better results.

Heading into the New Decade

Honestly, the year 2020 is scary for us. Scary good, though. Seeing all the massive growth and business concepts that have come with this decade, it is interesting to see that the next decade is one where all of these standalone concepts will be married for a union of better business success. This involves a series of processes, chief of which will be learning, unlearning and relearning what these business concepts are – and drawing out new plans to make them work in sync. If that is not interesting to see, we don’t know what is.

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