Customer Engagement Will be Driven by These 9 Trends

John Krautzel
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With competitors large and small disrupting almost every industry, smart brands are rethinking the customer experience to earn more market share. Businesses that want to drive loyalty, awareness and sales should leverage emerging trends to create a winning customer engagement strategy.

1. Co-Creation

Looking beyond in-house staff and resources can help companies develop better products and identify growing markets. Crowdfunding, open-source tools and online communities are valuable resources for finding innovative talent and products to invest in, and brands that include customers in the development process simultaneously build loyal audiences.

2. Sharing Economy

Whether it's sharing media or transportation, consumers are discovering the power of digital bartering, which cuts businesses out of the equation. Companies that want to stay involved in the customer experience have to become facilitators. Rather than pushing customers to buy products, provide convenient services they can use to manage their own exchanges.

3. Intelligent Personal Assistants

Conversational AI systems refine searches and recommendations based on user patterns, making it harder for new brands to reach customers who use these technologies. Beyond a strong web presence, growing brands must seek partnerships that put their products front and center on larger interactive platforms.

4. Smart Cities

As data mining and security improve, connected devices may become more prevalent in public and commercial sectors, ranging from restaurant menus to parking reservations. If automation and digital customer experiences overtake busy city environments, brands could influence customers' daily decisions.

5. Mature Demographics

As of 2017, roughly 42 percent of adults over 65 own smartphones and 32 percent own tablets, according to Pew Research Center. Brands that understand the needs of an aging population can deliver high-impact customer experiences that boost health and lifestyle conditions among older adults while providing more access to entertainment, education and support services.

6. Automation

Instead of replacing human interactions, automation can free up live staff to handle customer issues requiring finesse. Intelligent automation systems can identify touchpoints when human service reps are essential or guide people to the right information when they prefer self-directed solutions.

7. Digital Partnerships

Consumers and businesses are increasingly using online platforms to manage everything from social networks to financial records. By integrating multiple services, users can expand functionality as their needs grow. Companies that form relevant partnerships have the chance to reach wider audiences and gain a built-in audience to test new features and technologies in lower cost rollouts.

8. App Specialization

In a huge, specialized app marketplace, companies can study customer habits to create refined, micro-targeted services. While companies once preferred large-scale, behind-the-scenes development, they can have a bigger impact on the customer experience by getting user data, feedback and ideas in the digital spaces consumers frequent every day.

9. Customer Storytelling

Loosening the reins on a brand story is risky business, especially when businesses use unfiltered social media content in marketing campaigns. However, the rise of video is creating a ripe environment for customers to share compelling stories about how they use products in everyday life. Smart companies turn to influential brand ambassadors to lend authenticity to marketing messages.

People quickly spread the news about good or bad customer experiences, so it's essential to integrate technology in thoughtful ways. A strong customer engagement strategy balances convenience and attentiveness, motivating consumers to seek out brands to solve problems.

Photo courtesy of suphakit73 at


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