In 2019, businesses looking for a competitive advantage in experience management must understand the essential role of technology and data, industry leaders say.

Humanising experiences through technology, tailoring insights through data and authentically living your brand’s values are all essential to get ahead in Experience Management (XM) this year, according to Vicky Katsabaris, CX Subject Matter Expert and Principal Consultant at Qualtrics.

“The field of XM is currently undergoing an enormous amount of learning and maturing. This has given rise to a number of key trends, most of which require organisations to understand and leverage predictive technology,” she says.

  1. Humanising through technology

Retailers who want a step above the rest need to firstly prioritise recognising individual customer needs and leveraging data to gain these unique insights.

Data can also help to deepen brands’ understanding of customers and deliver more resonant experiences, according to Ms Katsabaris.

“It’s high time organisations start to incorporate the human element of experiences into their research and analytics. By recognising and categorising human emotions and drivers, organisations will be better able to respond to these appropriately, delivering a much higher quality experience,” she says.

Conversational listening will take the lead ahead of traditional surveys to help businesses gain these key insights into consumers while the advancement of AI will help retailers humanise experiences, she says.

  1. Tailoring insights for action

Turning data into actionable insights is essential to optimise the customer experience.

Organisations must ensure they are strategic in the way they collect information and tailor it to their individual audiences, according to Ms Katsabaris.

This means delivering role-specific insights to agile experience teams to enable the entire organisation to take action, she says.

“Retailers have an overabundance of data, especially operational data but most don’t really have experience data which is human data around the sentiment of customers and people and really tells retailers why things happen and helps them predict what might happen in the future,” she says.

  1. Expanding predictive analytics

Customers increasingly expect brands to recognise them as individuals, anticipate their needs and proactively address their concerns, according to Ms Katsabaris.

This means being able to offer experiences and content when customers want and delivering it proactively rather than reactively. This process requires analytics that provide a deep understanding of customers across different touchpoints, she says.

“There’s a wealth of information available you can build up over time around customers and it’s about using that AI and predictive analytics in order to understand what patterns of behaviour are emerging in key customer segments and what that might that mean for future marketing efforts or the service experience you want to create,” she says.

  1. Authentically living brand values

Consumers are increasingly looking to align with brands with authentic values, Ms Katsabaris says, making it crucial brands look to build trust and emotionally connect with customers.

This means brands will increasingly be looking to merge inclusivity and experience management to promote inclusion and opportunity for those with disabilities, she says.

The maturity of journey mapping and design thinking within brands will increase empathy for customers and employees in the design of experience, according to Ms Katsabaris.

“Organisations must deeply understand their own core values so they can align priorities across the organisation. Translating customer promises into employee actions will become a basic requirement for organisations looking to improve XM in 2019,” she says.