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I have been speaking today at the ACDECC Congress on Contact Centres and CRM in Bogotá, Colombia. It’s been a great day because instead of the usual topics I see at contact centre conferences this event is very much focused on the future of the customer experience.

Author Scott Klososky opened by talking about the transformation of the customer experience and Tony Lama from Aspect talked about how you can make your service more attractive to customers. These opening talks were really exploring what customer service means in 2016 and were far more innovative than anything I have seen at a recent conference on a similar subject.

My own talk was focused on channel shift and how millennials have influenced a dramatic change in the way that customers experience brands in the past few years.

Mark Hillary

Millennials are often talked about in the future tense, yet we are talking about people born from 1980-2000 and how they are now becoming important customers to major brands.

Mark Hillary2

This is why it’s important to think in more depth about millennials. They are now the majority of employed workers in the USA. By 2020 the entire world will see that millennials are the majority of employees and 41% of people in this demographic use digital communication channels as their number one choice for communicating with other people.

A 21-year-old joining a company today cannot remember life before the Internet and mobile phones. This affects how companies need to work with their millennial employees and also how these young people will behave as consumers in the wider economy.

Millennials have largely redefined expectations of customer service. Think back a decade and brands told you when you could get in touch and how. Now the customer demands the right to get in touch at anytime from anyplace and on any channel. The brand needs to check all channels to see who is mentioning their products.

The challenge for those responsible for customer experience is that we are seeing changing customer expectations combined with changing technologies – a perfect storm is developing that will see some brands left behind. I summarised my talk by stressing the importance of 5 key areas that executives need to focus on:

  • Society is changing – be aware; how do you stay in touch with your friends? How do your kids talk to friends? How do you find a new job or a new partner? Think for a moment about how all of these actions have changed in less than a decade. Now why wouldn’t the communication link between brand and customer also need to be updated?
  • Plan your customer journey again; brands need to interact far earlier in a dialogue with customers and potential customers. If I ask an airline on Twitter what movies they are showing it doesn’t immediately generate revenue for them to answer, but to ignore such a question could generate bad feeling about how the brand ignores customers.
  • Rethink loyalty; loyalty is much more about the experience the customer has rather than collecting points. Think about how the Starbucks app lets you order a coffee before you get to a cafe and pay for it in advance so you can walk in, grab it, and go.
  • Make the omnichannel real; it is not just about working across multiple channels. You need to accept that all channels need to be equally good and it needs to be possible to hop from one to another.
  • Build a customer experience hub; possibly the most complex issue for companies today. Your sales, marketing, and customer experience teams need to merge or at the very least start working together. How does that affect the way your business is organised?

You can read my complete slides from the presentation today in Colombia here on Slideshare:

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