Here’s what consumers want from customer communication in 2020
Brent Haumann, CXO, Striata, takes a closer look at upcoming 2020 trends for customer communication.
It’s now well-established that customer communication is vital to the success of any business. But it can only play that role if it meets the wants and needs of the consumers receiving it.
As time passes and consumers adopt new technologies, those expectations are changing. What was a cutting edge approach just a few years ago is now old-hat. If companies fail to keep up with the demands of their customers, especially when it comes to communication, they will take their money elsewhere.
With that in mind, here’s what consumers will expect from customer communication in 2020 and how companies can ensure that they meet these specific wants and needs.
Make the most of micro-moments
Consumers increasingly expect companies to be there for the micro-moments, those seconds when they turn to their phones to satisfy a need, whether it is to know something, to buy something, to go somewhere or to do something.
People want these momentary needs to be satisfied immediately, which is why companies should do everything to ensure that their communications meet the “be there, be useful, be quick” mantra. It’s not just about being there in the moment, but also about delivering relevant content, making it easy for the customer to make a purchase and to ensure that the moment is a pleasant one.
In order to do this, companies need to ensure that they communicate with their customers at every point in the buying journey and be able to instantly connect with them. Importantly, they also need to measure every interaction with their customers and track and assign a value for every touch-point a customer has with the brand.
Integrating new technologies
Customers lead the way when it comes to the channels they want companies to communicate with them on. And today’s customer is more tech-savvy than ever.
As a result, things like chatbots, voice integration, and dynamic (hyper-personalized) content amongst others, are no longer points of differentiation, but essential for any organization that’s serious about customer communication.
But organizations cannot simply implement these technologies and expect dramatic improvements in their customer communication efforts. They have to ensure that whatever integrations they implement give customers the kind of seamless, cross-channel experience that has become expected.
When it comes to providing this experience, artificial intelligence will play an increasingly important role. In the customer communication space especially, AI-based systems are useful for predicting user behavior and providing content based on that prediction to prompt the user’s next action.
Organizations are already seeing the value AI provides in this regard, integrating it into email, billing, and mobile payments, all of which contain forms of customer communication. AI is additionally driving the use of chatbots, which appear on websites and instant messaging services, as automated virtual assistants.
The size and impact of data breaches grew larger in 2019, with the average global cost of a breach now US$3.92-million, up 1.5% from 2018 and 12% from 2014. That’s unlikely to change in 2020.
At the same time, consumers are more afraid than ever of the potential consequences breaches have with regards to their personal security. Thanks to years of awareness campaigns, most people know that spoof customer communications often play a role in these breaches. This may make them wary of legitimate communications sent out by an organization.
Companies therefore not only need to ensure that their communications are safe but also educate customers on what they will and won’t include in any piece of communication.
And, when a breach does happen, it’s imperative that organizations put customer communication at the heart of their response. Security breaches that compromise customer data always negatively affect customer confidence.
With customers already nervous about breaches and able to quickly switch loyalties, in 2020 it’ll be more important than ever for organizations to get information out as quickly as possible - either as reassurance or as notification that their personal information has been breached, and what they should do about it.
The degree to which companies can personalize their customer communications is increasingly granular, bringing together multiple data points to create a comprehensive image of an individual customer.
Where knowing a customer’s history may once have been enough, customers now expect much more. In order to make the most of any given piece of communication, companies also have to factor in where customers are when they receive it and when they’re most likely to interact with it.
The more information an organization has on each customer, the more meaningful and valuable its communication will be.
Make it human-centered and authentic
As important as it is for organizations to embrace shifts in what consumers expect from customer communications, it’s equally vital that they do so in a considered way.
Whether it’s integrating new technologies, ramping up the focus on security, or making communications ever more personalized, organizations need to do so in a way that adds to a sense of authentic, human-centered communication.
Ultimately, companies that focus on what their customers want and need from communication in 2020 stand to see serious gains.
For more information on business topics in the United States, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief USA.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.