Since recently joining Avaya as Chief Product Officer, I have been engaged in a lot of deep discussions about addressing the evolving market needs for customer and employee experience solutions.  The  last 12 months have seen massive emphasis on the employee experience as it relates to the customer journey. With tangible benefits like 21% greater profitability and 41% lower absenteeism, organizations would be wise to consider the symbiotic relationship between customer and employee experience.

Here is my outlook on what 2020 holds for customer and employee experience:

  1. Companies will focus more on natural connections: At its core, customer experience is about people interacting with and across the organization in a simple, personalized, and organic way. It’s no longer about how many communication channels a company has or how quickly employees can address concerns. All that matters is that connections, conversations and experiences naturally flow.  This ideology will be at the core of organizations’ service strategies for 2020.
  2. Smart routing will take off: Seventy-three percent of companies currently use or are planning to use smart routing by 2025, according to Nemertes. Leveraging AI, companies can identify subtle patterns within billions of historic interactions to predict future best pairings based on things like personality, shared values, and agents’ areas(s) of expertise. There’s a reason smart routing is currently the No. 1 application of AI in the contact center, per Nemertes.
  3. Organizations will go from partial to full (or near-complete) rollout of AI: Most companies have implemented some form of AI but have yet to fully execute their strategy. According to Vanson Bourne, for example, organizations using AI in the contact center are roughly 40% to 60% of the way through their rollout. We’ll see these gaps closing in 2020, possibly fully, with more companies expanding their use of AI across the enterprise.
  4. There will be more focus on intelligently managing real-time communications and collaboration: The increase of employees using AI, automation and omni-channel will push organizations to find a better way to intelligently manage communications and collaboration in real-time. We’ll see this via an intelligent workspace, enabled by a single interface that drives faster collaboration and information sharing. A key goal of this workspace will be to provide “people-literate” technology that adapts to users’ preferred ways of working.
  5. Call scripting will look very different (for some brands): We’ve reached a point where enough is enough: for customers frustrated by scripted empathy, for employees who want to be able to genuinely connect, and for organizations suffering efficiency and revenue loss because of poor scripting. In 2020, forward-looking brands will adopt an intelligent scripting capability that defines call flows (both for inbound and outbound calls) and provides on-screen, step-by-step guidance for agents to more naturally navigate customer interactions.
  6. Organizations will look beyond the contact center for delivering experiences that matter: The contact center is the cornerstone of human connection, but the brand experience extends the entire organization: beyond the contact center, to and through the Back Office, across all departments and lines of business. Organizations will shift in 2020 to prioritize this, leveraging solutions like an open, modular, extensible dashboard that delivers rich business insights in real-time from multiple data sources (both in and outside of the enterprise) across the business.
  7. There will be more emphasis on real-time insight vs. data: Forrester recently reported that as much as 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused. In 2020, we’ll see more companies transition from mindless data collection to mindful data application to drive actionable, real-time business insights. Specifically, using an open, rich media chat messaging capability that enables faster, easier, real-time communication and collaboration between every team, department and line of business.
  8. We’ll see open and equal communication between customers and agents: 2020 will see more organizations bringing customers into the fold by empowering them with advanced new communication and collaboration capabilities. Consider the above-mentioned chat messaging solution. Not only can this tool be used by employees internally but also between customers and agents. Each can attach files or videos directly within messages (i.e. screenshots of confirmation or return information, instructional videos, fact sheets, product guides), with multi-party chat available.
  9. Virtual Agent (VA) technology will continue to grow: Gartner estimates that VA technology will drive $1.2 trillion in business value by 2030. Needless to say, these solutions will be huge in 2020 both for improving the customer and employee experience. For employees, this could be an intelligent assistant that siphons off repetitive interactions or time-consuming tasks. For customers, it could be a solution that helps drive automated self-service. Whatever the application, we’ll be seeing VA technology boom.
  10. Communications will be at the heart of everything: Communications is at the core of every customer and employee experience. In TINYpulse’s “2019 Employee Engagement Survey,” for example, the five biggest pain points cited by employees were communications-related, from technical issues with communication tools to disruptions while using them. The continued importance of communications will not be lost on organizations in 2020.

Go through this list again and consider how your organization is prepared for the future of customer and employee experience. Do you agree with them? Disagree? I look forward to engaging with many of you to deliver these, and more, Experiences that Matter.