Steven Van Belleghem is a virtuoso of the transformation of customer relations and experience. He regularly speaks to leaders at Fortune 500 companies such as Google and Mercedez-Benz who rely on him to influence their customer experience and customer service investment priorities. Steven is an expert in digital transformations and meeting customer expectations.

Recently, Steven sat down with Davy Kestens in Sparkcentral’s headquarters to talk about the future of customer experience. Davy, CEO of Sparkcentral, discusses how customer expectations are evolving faster than ever before what companies need to be doing to keep up.

Since I know how busy you all are, I’ve written down a few takeaways for your convenience. The full interview can be viewed below.

Customer expectations are evolving faster than ever before.

“A lot of companies who think they are in a stable spot are underestimating how the world around them is changing and how that might impact their business.”

The generation of people under 25 years old, which accounts for about 24% of the population, are basing their customer satisfaction on how easy and fast a product is to use. Davy refers to this as the “Uber Generation”, where people get frustrated and cancel an Uber ride because it’s 5 minutes away to just to pay extra for a ride that is 2 minutes closer.

Regardless of what generation your target demographic is, every industry will need to start looking at the behaviors and expectations of the Uber Generation because your business will have to cater to that. They will soon be taking over the market. How quickly it will impact different industries is variable but the impact itself is inevitable.

How will AI influence customer experience?

AI will make it cheaper for brands to scale their customer experience but won’t necessarily improve it.

AI should be regarded as a way of scaling business processes and making them more effective and cost-efficient but it’s not a magic wand that will save your customer service. If the capabilities of AI and bots are combined with the emotional connection of live agents, you will have the ultimate super agent.

Better faster customer experience while retaining human connection is the future of customer service.

Loyalty is no longer related to brand it’s related to experience.

Ideally an effortless experience = convenience. Bad press or reputation no longer directly affects revenue. The companies with the best product in terms of convenience and affordability will win regardless of their brand status. Companies who don’t adapt to these changes are subject to their competitors eating up their market share and potentially creating a different market altogether, making them obsolete. Think Uber with the taxi industry. “The level of effort and convenience should be the number one metric by which you measure the quality of your product.”

How should you start adapting to these changes?

How you get started depends on multiple varying qualifiers for different businesses BUT you can start getting your company up to speed with these rapidly changing customer expectations in two ways.

By looking at the market around you. See what type of companies are starting to offer services in a different space. Check out what some other players are doing.

By analyzing the touchpoints you have with your customers. Start looking at what might be frustrating to customers within those processes. Throw out your conventional metrics for value and develop a customer effort score to be your metric. From there you can look at technology and operations to improve that score.

“The metrics that were built on the engagement models of yesterday won’t work on that of tomorrow’s.”

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