This year will be the "year of purpose," according to customer experience research firm Temkin Group. Though many trends have carried over from last year, the differentiating factor in 2017 will be maturation. "There are not a lot of new things on the list because the story this year will be adoption and operationalization. Companies aren't playing around with emerging tools anymore—they're using mature and powerful technologies," says Bruce Temkin, managing partner at Temkin Group.
One of the key trends that continues to dominate the customer service space is mobile technology. Consumer adoption of mobile devices may be closing in on a saturation point, but there are many aspects of mobile that have room for growth. The Internet of Things, for example, is still in its early stages, and there’s plenty of potential behind it. "Mobile is going to be important as we see an increase in wearables, in-house devices, and other technologies," Temkin says.
Mobile devices have also driven a number of behavioral changes among consumers, changes that have reverberated among organizations as well. "It's not just about the devices anymore. It’s about how they're changing the way people live their lives. Companies are still reacting to that, and we're only starting to see the full impact," Temkin says.
The growth of data, while still an exciting trend from a predictive analytics standpoint, is becoming somewhat of a double-edged sword for organizations. This year, "companies will tap into rich behavioral data to anticipate customers' perceptions and actions,” according to the Temkin Group’s prediction. But the volume of data available to companies can be overwhelming, especially since analytics solutions are improving but sometimes not fast enough. To avoid data overload, companies must be selective and targeted in their data collection. It’s a classic case of valuing quality over quantity, according to Temkin.
Other trends the Temkin Group highlights include operationalizing emotion, orienting around customer journeys, embracing employee engagement, federating customer experience, tapping into speech recognition, and smartening self-service. Self-service has become a buzzed-about topic throughout 2016, but in 2017 effective self-service will require more than an elaborate FAQ page. Virtual agents and chatbots will become more intelligent and will inch closer to replacing human customer service interactions for basic issues.
“We are seeing emotion play an increasingly significant role. Tools are going a step further and developing an understanding of how to deal with people’s emotions during a service experience,” Temkin says.