3 Predictions about The Future of Customer Experience


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Sometimes I know what the fictional Rip Van Winkle must have felt like when he woke up from his 20-year slumber. It seems like only yesterday that we in the communications world were marveling at the benefits of integrating voice and data. Now it’s all about the multi-touch customer experience and mobile everything. The speed at which communications in general—and customer engagement specifically—are advancing is nothing short of astonishing.

This prompted some thinking around what the next few years might bring. So we gathered insights from a variety of businesses, visionaries within our own organization, and industry analysts to piece together a picture of what the future of customer experience will be in, for example, 2025. A few key themes emerged:

The nature of service will change. In the future, we won’t be talking about a device or media type. It will be all about what smarter consumers expect as outcomes—it starts with WHAT they want to do, followed by HOW they want to take action. It’s all about a customer being able to initiate contact in any number of ways and seamlessly move from one action to the next, in pursuit of resolution, knowing that a business will instantly know who they are, what they purchased (or anticipate what they want to purchase), what previous interactions they’ve had, what the outcomes of those interactions were, and then respond or, better yet, proactively address their needs. Everything is integrated at the point of interaction for the particular desired outcome at that moment.

And, it’s not just smarter consumers. Because the customer of tomorrow has done their own research, attempted to fix their own issues, etc. they require smarter, better equipped and, frankly, happier customer service agents and experts. To meet customers’ increasing expectations for fast, effortless and personal service, employees need to be empowered, be more knowledgeable, have the right tools, and—this is a bit subtler—better motivation. Increasingly, employees expect better work-life balance, more flexible scheduling, the latitude to work from home and the freedom to use their own devices. All of this—on both the consumer and agent side of the equation—means having seamless, adaptable, integrated, and responsive contact center infrastructure and applications. Organizations will be required to have an even smarter enterprise.

Extreme analytics will power customer experience. What is Extreme Analytics? It is analytics driven by context, supported by workflow automation, working with machine learning, and feeding artificial intelligence, just as a start. These are what will be needed to drive highly customized personal experiences. Natural language processing with analytics running in the background will make consumers feel that they are receiving a unique personalized experience, even though they may talk voice-to-voice or face-to-face with anyone from the company. No matter what means—digital or otherwise—the customer uses to initiate contact, the technology will be in place to translate, interpret, understand behaviors, anticipates needs, even if it’s a first contact between the customer and the business. If a customer chooses to visit a store or other location in person, there are still means by which—using GPS, geo-targeting, Internet of Things and other technologies—a highly personalized experience can be sculpted in real time. It will no longer be a digital interface alone. It will be about enabling interaction and personalization no matter where a customer wants to conduct business.

Loyalty is dead. As the post-digital world unfolds, the only loyalty customers will have is to whoever can make it easiest for them to do what they need to do. It will no longer be cognizant or mindful loyalty. Instead—whether it’s retail, banking, cab service, travel, prescription drugs, whatever—tomorrow’s consumers will certainly derive some level of comfort from knowing they’ve interacted with a business before, but that won’t be enough to keep them coming back. The next company that comes along and makes it faster, easier and (maybe, but maybe not) cheaper will get their business.

Here, extreme analytics come into play again. Driving in-the-moment loyalty will require customer segmentation that goes far beyond age groups and other demographics and customer profiles. It will include behavior analysis and an up-to-the-minute understanding of what a customer is doing (or anticipating next) so their experience can be personalized. It doesn’t matter that I fit into a certain age bracket or that I am a platinum customer of this financial institution or of that hotel chain. I have different “care abouts,” and a company needs to know those about me so they can create “anticipatory engagement.” The company anticipates what a customer will need, perhaps even from adjacent industry analysis, which drives knowledge of next best action, and drives proactive outreach—product and service offers that meet an expectation that is only now materializing.

Are these themes the things dreams are made of? Absolutely not. Consumer expectations are already headed in the direction suggested above, as are the technologies that are beginning to enable those capabilities. It’s only a matter of time. The future is now.

Have you thought about the Future of your Customer Experience? Take the first step by understanding what they experience today, and comparing it to what the digital consumer of tomorrow would expect.

Laura Bassett
Laura Bassett is the Director of Marketing for Avaya's Customer Experience, Unified Communications and Emerging Technologies groups, overseeing business planning & strategy, product marketing, support and managed services marketing, and sales enablement for next generation solutions. Additionally, Laura is a supporting author of Avaya's Social Media in the Contact Center for Dummies. Laura has over 20 years experience in applications consulting, development and delivery. She has a BSBA in Computer Science and an Executive MBA from the University of Florida.


  1. Hi Laura
    Great article, love the idea of extreme analytics – I have been searching my brain for a phrase to convey the idea that organizations need to go beyond traditional analytics if they want to gain a full view of the customers and their likely actions. I think your most apt comments are in the second to last para – “the future is now”. Consumers have already changed. Technology has advanced more in the last 2 years than I have seen in the past 20. Are organization ready – I think many are not. The starting point, as you say, is understanding your customers and why they engage with you, and then change to meet their expectations. And yes, “extreme analytics” is the enabler.

  2. I totally agree with your predictions here Laura. Customers expectations are already heading this way, especially people who are more tech savvy. The websites that require me to fill out identical information multiple times is annoying and deliver a poor user experience. Though companies will have to balance that with the privacy aspect of not appearing to know too much and coming across as creepy.

    I like your Extreme Analytics term. There is definitely the next level of analytics involved in tying all this information on an individual user basis and will be extremely important as companies try to deliver more proactive or predictive information to their customers.

    Considering the massive growth of various marketing technologies which create a lot of data and have a wide variety of integration options, how do you see a company being able to tie all this data together? Do you predict more consolidation so that companies are dealing with the big boys like Adobe? Or do you see individual SaaS products struggling unless they offer more native integrations with business intelligence platforms like Tableau?

  3. Steven – At a high level I think we are already seeing a mix of the two. It is pertinent that companies are provided the opportunity to integrate existing solutions and data sources, so the latter of the two is most critical. We have to realize that companies have adopted technologies, and have data and reporting capabilities they depend on to run their businesses. To disrupt that, rather than leverage it for them is a no win proposition. Its about making them smarter, so yes, unless we offer native integrations between data sources and BI platforms, one would wonder if we are really servicing the needs of our customers.


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