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Companies will focus on unifying experiences for their customers this year, according to Forrester Report: 2013 Digital Customer Experience Trends.
According to its report, Forrester analyzed digital customer experience trends that gathered momentum in 2012 and found innovations that will have “wide-ranging implications” in 2013.
What types of digital experiences will shape the customer experience landscape in 2013? Forrester’s report identified the following as pivotal digital experiences that brands will focus on this year:
Website designs go from responsive to adaptive. The rapid adoption of smartphones and tablet computers has forced companies to rethink how they deliver content to their customers. But early adopters are not abandoning old devices — they’re just using more of what’s available. In 2012, responsive design emerged as a way to meet this multitouchpoint engagement challenge. Leading the way were media sites like The Boston Globe, which offered the same content with different display characteristics for different form factors (see Figure 3).
In 2013, look for a shift from today’s narrow focus on consistent cross-channel content delivery to site experiences that adapt to suit the most common use cases for the device. For example, New Zealand’s Kiwibank serves up a mobile-friendly login, branch finder, and customer service number when its customers reach out to the bank via a smartphone browser.
Digital experiences become more contextual. The customer experiences with the most impact meet customer needs, feel personally relevant, and deliver in the moment. Last year saw vendors from content management to commerce, analytics, and recommendations engines bring contextualization solutions to market. What customers got were sites that used clickstream data to deliver targeted content. They also got apps that used location information to deliver valuable services.
In 2013, look for companies to marry specific information about individual customers — such as purchase and service history — with situational data like time of day and location to deliver highly contextual experiences. How will companies pull it off? By leveraging aggregate data about customer behaviors that can help them predict what users will need next.
Devices sync with each other and with products. The past several years have seen the emergence of innovative services like Amazon.com’s Kindle, Evernote, and Nike Plus that leverage the cloud to sync information across devices — a trend likely to continue into and beyond 2013. Also in 2012, companies like Best Buy started selling home automation technologies, and Comcast launched Xfinity Home, a service that lets customers manage their home’s security and other connected services through mobile and tablet apps. Devices have made connections in other ways as well.
For example, AKQA built a social game for Heineken, a Champions League sponsor,
which lets fans engage with one another during matches. The downloadable app pinpoints exactly where users are and delivers commentary in sync with local broadcast times, which may be delayed. Expect these kinds of cross-device connections to proliferate in 2013 as firms look for new ways to engage their always-connected customers.
Interfaces become cleaner and touch-friendly. Tablets and smartphones have brought touch computing into the mainstream. And smart companies have responded with design solutions that work for both touchscreens and keyboards. This trend will continue in 2013, as a sea of touchscreen-inspired interfaces replaces crowded text links and tiny buttons with more spacious layouts that are easier to access. What’ more, niche services like Simple and Litographs will continue to set the experience bar with uncluttered sites sporting large targets that are well suited to both mouse and touch experiences from the outset.
Information visualization (“infovis”) goes mainstream. Beginning with sites like Mint and Hipmunk and continuing to apps like Flipboard, information visualization has been making a splash. The trend hasn’t just influenced customer-facing apps. Digital agency 360i uses a graphic design layer to help drive insights from a wealth of social listening and sentiment data for its clients. Roundarch Isobar built an app that helps New York Jets’ ownership understand — and react to — real-time information about the game-day fan experience with a front-end application that’s as simple and engaging as it is informative.
As companies make more data available to customers and employees via tools that track behaviors like spending trends in financial services, care tracking in health and wellness, and mobile phone usage, they’ll turn to interfaces that help users quickly drill into details that are not only presented but also explained by the interface.
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