As we start the New Year, there’s plenty of interesting reading out there on predictions for what will be big in digital media and customer experience for 2011 (see 17 digital trends for 2011, Forrester’s Top Ten Trends for Customer Service in 2011 and 10 Ways Social Media will change in 2011 to name just a few).  Having read these articles, there are three key recurring themes I’d like to draw out:

  • The ‘professionalisation’ of digital media:  This appears in many guises  throughout the different lists and I’ve chosen ‘professionalisation’ to reflect trends to do with firms understanding that ‘social’ isn’t the remit of one employee or one team but is now the nature of their business, and indeed all business.  Examples to look out for include: increased demand for in-house digital talent; recognition of Facebook and Twitter as standalone channels; increased awareness of the importance of privacy, and investment to ensure this is handled appropriately; use of social feedback to inform strategic decisions; and increased maturity and use of data analytics.
  • Let’s go mobile:  This one’s simple – it’s the importance of mobility.  We’re talking mobile as a channel, mobile web and mobile apps. If the experts are to be believed, mobile will be big business in 2011.  There are still loads of questions about how it’s going to work, whether solutions will be supported on all popular mobile operating systems and how ROI will be measured but we should start to see some answers emerge over the next 12 months alongside a whole host of exciting new solutions.
  • The human touch:  For all its techie wizardry, digital media is ultimately still about people and we can expect to see more of this in 2011.  Be it the ‘humanisation’ of the online user experience (through things such as live chat, virtual environments, co-browsing, streaming of live events, virtual sales characters and improved personalisation), the increased demand for full sensory experience (highlighted through the expected growth of video) or the set up of community platforms and applications that bring people together around a particular topic or context (such as Diaspora and Path) – Digital media is finding its heart.


Excited by this talk of new trends, and never one to miss out on writing a good list, I decided to think about what New Year resolutions customer experience professionals should be thinking about to ensure they make 2011 a year to remember:

1)      Learn something new

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and TripAdvisor are no longer hamlets in the ‘land of the brave’ but rather regular features of day-to-day life for millions of people (for instance, did you know that Facebook has over 500million active users, 70% of which are outside the US (Facebook stats) whilst in April last year, the co-owner of Twitter announced at a press conference that the site had over 105 million registered users and was growing at 300000 a day).  The past couple of years may have been spent talking about Web 2.0 but 2011 is the year for doing and organisations need to get involved sharpish if they don’t want to be left behind.  Read previous blog posts on foundations for success with social medialooking to implement social media in 2011and six social media lessons from businesses from 2010 to get some ideas about how you can start if you haven’t already.

2)      Fight the fat

Quantity is better than quality right?Especially when it comes to channels and communicating with customers. Actually, no.  Getting the right channel mix is by far more important than simply offering lots of channels,  as shown by the success of First Direct, which was been named Which magazine’s ‘Best Financial Services Provider’ for the 21st year running in 2010 (quite impressive given that it has no branches and offers internet, telephone and mobile banking only).  If you’re interested in trimming your channel fat I’d recommend a recent blog on Delivering high-quality, low-cost Public Services across channels (which has implications beyond the public sector)  for  some interesting points that start to de-mystify the channel challenge.

3)      Spend more time with family and friends

Ok, a pretty fundamental one – it’s cheaper to retain current customers than it is to attract new ones.  Whilst this isn’t new, it is a worsening problem in the age of digital media.  The amount of ‘noise’ consumers are faced with everyday means organisations have to push harder to make themselves heard and even when they do win a customer, that individual is empowered to such a degree that securing loyalty is quite the battle.  Organisations need to crack it though, so why not look for tips from Loyalty 360’s top loyalty trends for 2011, advice from an author on the Social Customer website or a previous post from this blog on what Dutch insurance firms are doing in this area?

4)       Enjoy life more

Have you heard of Doritos’ ‘Crash the Superbowl’ campaign, Coke’s Expedition 206 or Jimmy Choo’s ‘Trainer Hunt’?  These are prime examples of organisations understanding that customer engagement today is about more than transactions and good customer service.  Today’s customers expect to be entertained and rewarded like never before and organisations need to embrace this.  The usual suspects can help with this (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc) whilst less known examples like FourSquare can help you differentiate but technology’s only half the battle – creating a killer campaign is really where the challenge lies.

5)      Get organised

Finally, if any organisation is to be truly customer-oriented and reap the rewards associated with this, they need to be set up accordingly.  This can be scary and will often require major transformation but without it, initiatives risk being confined to limited success.  Organisations need to understand that customer-centricity is not a buzz word, or the focus for one quarter, or something ‘we’ve got to do because everyone else is’ but rather a way of managing an entire business, motivating staff and delivering results.  How to take 5000 people on a journey, Forrester’s case study on Cardinal Health  and How to build a customer centric culture all  make for interesting reading and provide a starting point for thinking about how to implement a fundamental shift to a customer-driven organisation.

So that’s it.  All that’s left is for organisations to start implementing some of the ideas above and for spectators to see if the predictions for 2011 come true.   Undoubtedly there’ll be winners and losers throughout the course of the year, now we just need to see who’ll end up where.