The customer experience has transformed significantly over the last century. From 1900 until the 1960s we saw the age of manufacturing, where mass distribution of products eventually ushered in the age of distribution to serve a global economy of buyers. By the 1990s, computer and internet communications graced us with the age of information, where those holding the keys to unlock valuable consumer data rule supreme. Today, we’ve entered a brand new era of customer service: The age of the customer, which calls for technology and industry leaders to catch up to increasing customer demands. Innovations like virtual assistants, chatbots, drones, and self-service portals are beginning to play a huge role in meeting customer expectations. But before we can consider these tools successful, we must acknowledge that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
So, what will the future of the customer experience look like in 50 years? It’s always hard to speculate about these things, so first, let’s take a look at the rate in which the industry has developed, and try making a hypothesis from there.
Here’s a timeline breakdown by Forrester, which gives us a good perspective of communications development over the last century:
Notably, the age of information (1990-2010) did something to customer service that businesses hadn’t faced in previous years: Technology created a role reversal for businesses and consumers. Instead of companies holding the cards and actively selling to customers, consumers were now in the power position with the ability to find what and who they were looking for online. Plus, the internet provided an open forum for customers to vocalize good and bad experiences, while mobile technology provided for continuous communications to occur.
Today, technology continues to be a catalyst for increasing consumer demands (93% of business leaders worldwide said technology had changed customer expectations in the past five to 10 years). The multi-channel environment we now live in allows customers to contact companies through a number of methods: phone, email, social media, live chat, messaging and more. However, despite technology’s best efforts, enterprises and businesses of all sizes are still struggling to keep up. Poor infrastructure coupled with endless red tape has limited integration of new innovations, creating overall poor customer experiences.
Given this technological progression and the operational delay we just described, it’s difficult to be certain about the future of customer experience, but we feel this chart by Blake Morgan from The Evolution of Customer Service provides a realistic overview of what to expect:
Furthermore, we’d like to make a few other predictions about where we see the customer experience 50 years from now.
Predication #1 – Businesses Will be Optimized for Mobile
Mobile has been on every customer experience trend report for the last five years. We can expect with much certainty that mobile support will be at the center of many multi-channel customer service interactions.
Prediction #2 – Kinks in Self-Service will Smooth Out
Virtual agents will develop a language much closer to our own. In 50 years we trust that advanced speech intelligence will help customer service to manage inquiries and provide two-way interactions that we have not yet seen.
Predication #3 – Drones will begin to displace human carriers
Gone will be the days of missed deliveries. In 50 years we believe automated signage, payments, and drone technology will be a staple for deliveries. We’ll even go so far to say that Amazon will lead the way with this initiative. We are not suggesting that humans will be completely removed from the shipping and handling process, but they’ll be utilized differently for these new operations to run smoothly.
Agree or disagree? What are some of your predictions for the customer experience in 50 years from now.