Customer Experience Trends for 2020 and Beyond

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The top customer experience trends for 2020 are much more than one-off projects that teams can implement over a quarter, or even a year.

Around the world, as businesses continue to be considered the most trusted institutions, CX trends in 2020 serve as the foundational mantras of a customer-centric society. 

During the teens of this millennium, all an e-commerce brand need do was tell consumers why they were different and why they existed:

  • Warby Parker made the same high-quality glasses you needed, without the high price tag, or you even having to leave your house. 
  • Bombas made better socks, and nabbed the Shark Tank investment to make sure you knew it.

In the 2020s, brands now have to prove it. That’s because Gen Z, the up and coming power buyers of the near future, don’t take what a brand says at face value. 

They want to know the how, the why, and then actually see a brand follow through with it. Here are a few examples of questions brands are beginning to face from these new consumers:

  • How many times is the item I’m ordering shipped, and from where, and what is the carbon footprint of all that movement? 
  • Exactly how do you make a shoe with recycled plastic fiber, and are we sure you aren’t using too much water to create something that you say is sustainable? 
  • How can I be sure that the diamond you are selling me isn’t mined, from a conflict-zone, and better yet –– why should I buy this to begin with instead of … say… a sapphire? 

These detailed questions will define the next decade as one focused on brand transparency and purpose. 

Business as an enabler of sustainable change

“The perfect overlap between desirability, feasibility and viability is a sustainable and/or a desirable product or service that also makes business sense.” — Fjord Trends 2020

In the U.S., there are plenty of examples of business filling the void left by other institutions:

  • BlackRock CEO Larry Fink surprised Wall Street last week when he released his annual letter to CEOs and clients announcing that it would make sustainability its new standard for investing.
  • In August, 181 of the nation’s top CEOs agreed to embrace a new business model in which driving shareholder value is no longer their sole business objective. Rather, service to society, communities and employees would become a top priority.
  • In 2018 ASICS conducted an LCA on their GEL-KAYANOTM 25 running shoes and compared the results with a previous model from this style. The analysis showed that ASICS have reduced CO2 emissions per pair by around 24%.
  • doTERRA partners with local plant growers in over 40 countries around the world through co-impact sourcing. This model implements long-term, mutually beneficial supplier partnerships where skilled rural farmers oversee plants and growing environments.
  • TOUS has been in the jewelry business since 1920, honing the skill of giving pieces of jewelry a second life, excelling in restoring, reusing, and recycling. 40% of the brand’s collections are produced in a workshop with 90 multi-disciplined artisans specialised in electroforming and micro-casting. 

This is only the beginning. We’ve got a full decade to embrace, and an influential and educated generation who will continue to make up more and more of our buying population. 

customer experience trends

Customer experience trends for 2020 & their CX implementation 

How will this shift to brand transparency across every department affect both customer experience implementation as well as the customer experience itself? 

That’s the bigger question we are putting to Twitter this week to figure out in our first #CXTweechat of 2020

The top customer experience trends for 2020 are listed below, but again, these require a long-term vision and dedication to the values of your organization.

The transparency aspect of each trend reaches far into a company’s internal structuring, and as we have seen with Away, the internet critics are fast to call out which brands are doing it right, and which they will never buy from again.

Nailing the on-going customer experience of the biggest trends of the 20s will be what keeps brands relevant long into the next decade. 

  • Sustainability via a circular economy: In a world where only 9% of the economy is circular, it’s calculated that the opportunity to profit from the conversion of the remaining 91% sits around $4.5 trillion. This means the circular economy is the biggest wave of business transformation that companies are embarking on since the industrial revolution. Moreover, the companies willing to invest in the circular economy are industry game changers. But, are they also profitable?
  • A new customer journey begets internal restructuring: From personalized, location-driven promotions, to more digitally empowered employees, to in-store kiosks for everything from product comparison to one-time coupons, the little supercomputers we carry in our pockets can unlock a wealth of opportunities for boosting engagement, sales, and spirits. But to execute well on the experience, internal brand departments must work hand in hand, with near flawless implementation and change management for shifting consumers behaviors. Do modern brands have to make this up, or are there successful models to learn from?
  • Data privacy continues to take center stage: Consumers are freaked out by the yottabytes of their personal data that has been collected, sold, and used for years without their really knowing or understanding the scope and depth of the data mining. The mile-long naughty-list of data breaches only stokes the flames of anxiety. No wonder customers have trust issues after the exposure of data collection and management practices by tech giants like Facebook and Google, who have become such integral parts of our lives and society. How can brands needing to launch new tools like TikTok or SMS be sure they are also taking data privacy into account with every step?
  • New understandings of consumer behavior turn marketers into scientists: Neuromarketing is bigger than creating catchy ads and compelling cues. Insights gained into human behavior can be applied across your organization, from achieving executive alignment to stronger cross-function communication and collaboration to improving employee and customer experience. But do brands have the talent to analyze such results and pull out the relevant findings? Marketers have long needed to have a deep understanding of psychology, can they also develop their neuroscience muscles in time to see wins from updated customer experiences? 

What’s next in the 2020s?

The Financial Times said it best: “The long-term health of free enterprise capitalism will depend on delivering profit with purpose. Companies will come to understand that this combination serves their self-interest as well as their customers and employees.”

Every single one of these changes addresses foundational cracks in consumption, marketing, and internal collaboration. Customer experience is the defining thread through each. 

Whether you are tackling cashless payment solutions, implementing SMS nurture streams, or launching your brick-and-mortar store in one of America’s luxury (and thriving!) shopping malls, one thing remains true: quality of experience is a critical differentiator. 

Ignore it or de-prioritize it at your own peril. 

What are the trends that will define the future of customer experience?
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Tracey Wallace
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Tracey Wallace

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