This column is authored by Kalpana Arya, Content Expert with Techpillar.

In the modern scenario, businesses strive to create the best experiences for its buyers by being more customer centric. Those brands, which manage to excel at delivering the best customer experience are tasting success more frequently than others.

Over 82 percent of companies consider customer experience as an important competitive differentiator and a significant measure for performance. As retention of customers is the target of any customer centric company, here’re the top customer experience trends to help them stay competitive.

The Important Tool of Data & Analytics

Customer centric companies need to evolve with changing end user expectations. One of the best ways to do so is adopting new business technologies like data analytics tools to track evolving end user experiences.

In the coming 5 years, the customer service industry is expected to change manifold with data & analytic tool shaping their every move. Based on data analytics of customer requests and buying preferences, companies are striving towards personalization of services.

According to Forbes Insights, called as “Data Elevates the Customer Experience,” 42 percent of businesses leaders believe that data analytics helps them in delivering superior experiences.

Data analytics also helps them in making decision making faster and witnessing a significant increase in sales revenue.

Earlier, only a handful of enterprises were capable of using data & analytics tools to improve customer experiences. Now as the technology progresses, customer relationship management tools can help even SMBs in forging a long-lasting relationship with customers. With the help of analytic tools, they can personalize customer solution services and ensure customized customer service experiences based on individual requirements.

Speech Recognition Technology

The interactive voice response technology can transform the way customer queries are resolved. Speech recognition software can help customers in connecting with a well-designed IVR system through efficient call routing and automated self-service. With advanced speech recognition and personalized data about callers, companies can figure out what types of problems trigger customer complaints, and what are the ways to fast track the customer query resolution process.

The Chatbot Will Demand Customer Respect

Today, customers expect the representatives of a company to be available round the clock to resolve their queries instantly. To provide timely support to customers on a consistent basis, companies have come up with the important tool of chatbot. Chatbots can satisfy customer expectations, without any chance of burnout. The advanced capability of chatbots works with the technology of AI and speech recognition to interact with users and provide them apt solutions. Chatbots are developed by businesses to respond to short & straightforward queries and provide automated replies.

Empowering Customers for Self-Service

Empowering customers to resolve their queries themselves is another popular customer experience trend. Owing to this, non-voice interactions are considered quite important by companies. They allow customers to ask their queries via email and web chat, and get real-time response from customer care reps even without wasting a significant time on connecting to an agent or navigating complex IVRs. Through self-assisted channels of customer service, a large number of queries can be resolved in lesser time. Customers can escalate their queries to customer care reps through any medium, and expect quick reply. Further, companies with self-service programs can enjoy higher customer retention rates, as real-time query resolution ensures higher satisfaction.

Catering to the Preferences of Mobile-Friendly Customers

In 2017, mobile search is likely to generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search. Consumers are using mobile devices to access information about a brand and its products before making the final selection for purchase. To retain more customers and to stay competitive in the market, most companies are now adapting to the demands of mobile-friendly generation. Mobile apps of different brands allow customers to ask their queries to live agents of a brand and post their requests.

Channels with Clarity of Direction

While businesses are adopting non-verbal channels along with direct calling to help customers connect with reps through any medium of their choice, they cannot deny the chances of decision fatigue because of too many channels with little direction. When customers adopt a channel to communicate with customer reps, they expect quick response. A short delay in response from reps can lead to the abandonment of a contact all together. So, companies are focusing on the opportunity of escalating conversations within channels and reducing the response time. For omni-channel customer experience, companies have come up with advanced features like Chat-to-Voice.

Dealing with Customer Experiences Shared Online

With an exponential increase in social network audience, businesses now have to deal with good and bad experiences of customers shared online. According to a report by Zendesk, around 45 percent of customers share negative reviews on social media, while only 30 percent of them share positive reviews. The focus of any business should be on boosting the number of positive responses from customers by providing them the ease of sharing experiences on social media platforms. Also by considering bad reviews and taking immediate corrective actions, companies can have a positive impression on their existing and prospective customers.

Not Making Customer Wait Anymore

Gone are the days when customers were ready to wait for a quality product. Today, businesses are delivering their products or services fast enough to stay competitive. Customers expect quick response from brands not just at the time of delivering a product or service, but also while addressing their queries. A company that values the time of its customers and listens to their requests and queries in the shortest possible timeframe, are likely to grow. To retain loyal customers, companies are adopting the means of FAQs and self-service support. Along with these, brands also need to reduce abandon rates by offering call-backs on all possible channels, be it chat, web or mobile.

Empowered Agents to Improve the Human-to-Human Experience

Though businesses are making a transition to automated self-service support, they can’t ignore the key role of their live agents in offering quality customer service. When self-service support and technology fails, humans can act as a savior for resolving customer queries instantly. Customer care agents are now getting empowered for resolving user issues in-channel and providing the best support for integrated digital channels. When customer care agents are utilized alongside technology, companies can take a significant step towards achieving customer excellence.

In the ‘Age of Customer’, businesses can thrive only by offering consistent experiences across different channels of customer care. It requires a complex approach, in which multiple departments work together towards achieving the larger goal of customer satisfaction.