ICF Interactive's 10 for '16: The Ins and Outs on eCommerce, the Digital Transformation, and Customer Experience Management
Fred Faulkner, Marketing Director at ICF Interactive, was recently interviewed for CMSWire's Discussion Point: What’s on Your 2016 Digital Radar? while at Gilbane Conference. Essentially, he states that while brands will need to invest in marketing, experience, and content management technology platforms, digital success will be determined by the ways in which an organization staffs and trains its teams.
That's our #1 prediction for 2016. Read on for nine more predictions, trends, and ways to revolutionize engagements for the new realities of the New Year.
2. IN: The re-introduction of the human element across the customer journey.
Automated process implementations, technology investments, and digital solution development have been of the highest priority, commanding all-hands-on-deck attention and healthy budgets. While we don’t see these aspects of evolutionary business practices abating anytime soon, we suspect that in order for brands to bridge the gap between omnichannel strategy and flawless execution, we’ll start to see more person-to-person interactions.
3. OUT: Piecemeal and legacy systems.
IN: Holistic and strategic digital ecosystem applications.
Many organizations have benefitted from extending existing technology platforms and applications to solve new business challenges brought about by the constantly-connected consumer. However, as customer expectations have shifted with a speed not previously seen, especially with regard to mobile and commerce (what’s in stock, where’s my order, how do I contact, and so forth), we’re beginning to see that legacy technologies have been stretched to their limits. Moreover, it’s no longer acceptable to architect a solution or module that isn’t wholly integrated within the entire digital landscape – brands will need to carefully evaluate every existing technology, taking an honest approach to whether or not it serves today’s goals, and if it can manage those of tomorrow.
4. IN: Delivery within contextual needs
Both B2B and B2C brands are getting better at determining when and where customers need information, thanks to a wealth of analytics and customer experience management platforms that allow for targeting and personalization based on profiles and purchase history. This should continue on an upward trend so long as organizations continue to invest in emerging technologies – such as geolocational functionality, wearables, and other internet-enabled devices.
5. (Potentially) OUT with Big Box and IN with Boutique.
If big box retailers can’t figure out how to compete with smaller shops – those offering a high level of personalization, time-sensitive email communications, engaging social media interactions, and great customer service – 2016 might be the year we see luxury experiences replace the convenience of the all-in-one store.
6. IN: Responsible, smart social media campaigns.
Without naming [brand] names, we can all think of at least one brand who’s dropped the social media ball in the past year. Whether it was blamed on the intern, the poor campaign design, the unfortunately coincidental timing relative to a crisis, or the lack of customer service response following an event such as a site crash or failed flash sale, there have been a few from which we can all look and learn. Because social media platforms are effective engagement channels used by one of the biggest buying audiences of our time (looking at you, millennials), we’re thinking we’ll see social media interactions as larger, more well-thought-out marketing and sales tactics in 2016.
7. OUT: Waiting (In line, on the phone, for a delivery, for information).
The age of instantaneous fulfillment is upon us – from drones that deliver to streaming media, social media channels as 24/7 customer service centers, to same-day delivery and scheduling functions that allow that consumer to dictate how, when, and where he or she interacts with a brand. Speed is nothing new, but we think a few more folks will lose a few more reasons to be late to work in the morning.
8. IN: The Internet of Everything.
It’s being touted as the Internet of Things (IoT), but why stop with things? We see software application development and Internet connectivity being leveraged in as many places as one can imagine. Our bet? 2016 will be the year in which integrated products (smart [fill-in-the-blank]s) will surge in popularity, availability, and mass usefulness (sorry, Google Glass).
9. IN: Meaningful rewards, offers, and loyalty programs.
Competition is fierce among retailers and service providers. Purchasing preferences definitely vary across generations, but who doesn’t like an incentive? However, unlike blanket coupon offers or a system in which a customer is required to accumulate points for dollars, customer data allows brands to create highly personalized packages – and unlike that krazy kash that you have to remember to use before the expiration date or points that are only redeemable with a card, brands will start regularly sending offers straight to the inbox, ones that can be instantaneously acquired with a click.
10. IN: Innovation.
2016 will be the year of the monkey – considered clever and swift. 2016 is also a leap year, so if the stars align, we’re expecting to see some incredible strides in both what we’re already in the midst of, such as the digital transformation, as well as product enhancements, real-world uses for new applications, and decisions driven by the end-user.