The new year is almost upon us. While most people are making their New Year’s resolutions or signing up for gym memberships, business owners and marketers need to be looking ahead.

It’s challenging to tell what a new business year might bring, but we can always take a close look at the data to come up with a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Customer insight trends are invaluable when it comes to making a plan for the next calendar year. What customer insight trend predictions should you be on the lookout for with 2020 looming on the horizon?

1. Hyper-Personalization Will Take Center Stage

Most companies have the means to offer a personalized experience. Even something as simple as addressing a customer by name in an email instead of starting with a generic greeting can make an enormous difference in a customer’s experience.

According to one report, more than 69% of customers want a personalized experience from their companies, but only 40% of brands are taking advantage of this trend.

Customers that want a personalized experience understand it’s a tradeoff. To get the kind of hyper-personalization they want, they will need to provide some details about their lives.

Not everyone is comfortable with that exchange, but the majority of consumers are willing to take that leap. This trend will continue to take center stage in 2020 and beyond as the desire for personalized experiences continues to grow.

2. Transparency Will Be More Important Than Ever

Customers want transparency from the companies they choose to give their money to. It isn’t optional anymore — 86% of consumers demand honesty from brands, and 83% also want them to be friendly, especially when they’re communicating on social media.

With today’s tech-savvy consumers, it’s nearly impossible to be duplicitous — they will find out, you will go viral and you’ll spend valuable time and money recovering from a PR nightmare.

Focus on honesty and transparency in all your interactions with customers, both through traditional channels and on social media. That isn’t to say you need to give away the store if someone asks, but when it comes to social, environmental or cultural decisions you’re making as a company, don’t lie to your customers.

3. Voice Commerce Will Take Off

Voice commerce is already part of many consumers’ lives, with 72% of those who own voice-activated speakers saying they use them as part of their daily activities. Analysts predict this technology to grow exponentially in 2020, with voice commerce sales reaching $40 billion by 2022.

The best way to take advantage of this voice commerce growth is to build a headless commerce infrastructure so you can develop an e-commerce solution for Amazon Alexa or other voice-activated speakers. Ensure that you’re incorporating natural language into your search parameters and keywords. People who are shopping via voice commerce aren’t spouting keyword strings at their Alexa or Google Home. They’re asking it to give them information just like they would ask a salesperson in a brick-and-mortar storefront. Just like with SEO in text searches, natural language processing is going to be essential in 2020 and beyond.

4. Predictive Analytics Will Provide Instant Insight

Customer insight relies on collected information aggregated over time. It’s a valuable tool for any customer-facing business, but it takes time to acquire and even more time to process. Traditionally, you would spend weeks or even months compiling and parsing data to prepare for the next calendar year. It’s an invaluable tool, but it doesn’t provide quick insights that can help you make educated decisions.

By using machine learning and predictive analytics, you will be able to create instant customer insight, helping you create the perfect customer experience based on previous interactions. With this data at your fingertips, you’ll be able to leverage it to make the changes you need to better accommodate your clientele.

Doing so will require some ongoing changes on your part. You will need to set up or seek out a predictive analytics system you can use to sort through your customer data in real time. It’s no different than assigning a human statistician to make projections about your upcoming calendar year based on data collected in the past, but with one significant change.

Unlike with the human brain, there are no biological constraints limiting predictive analytics and machine learning systems. They can sort through data, find patterns and provide predictions with nearly limitless processing power and data storage.

5. Chatbots Will Drive Customer Service

Chatbots have earned a bad reputation, thanks to projects like Microsoft’s Tay — a Twitter-bot that was supposed to converse on the level of a 16-year-old girl. It took the internet less than a day to turn it into a slur-spouting nightmare that Microsoft had to shut down.

The technology exists, and while there are opportunities to abuse it, as we move into 2020, these autonomous bots will drive customer service as long as they have checks and balances that will prevent them from turning into another Tay.

According to industry experts, more than 80% of companies will be using some form of chatbot by 2020. If you don’t already have a bot set up to answer commonly asked questions or direct customers to a page where they can find answers to their questions, you’re a bit behind the curve.

There are even applications for this technology in the health care industry, providing users with accurate symptom checking to help them determine if they need to go to the doctor’s office. Chatbots are going to become an integral part of customer service, and anyone who doesn’t have one will find themselves overwhelmed or left behind.

6. Omnichannel Delivery Will Be Mandatory

Consumers tend to move between their phone and computer for things like social media, email and even shopping. If your website doesn’t translate well between these media, it may lead your customers to seek out another company to give their money to. That omnichannel delivery — giving them the tools to seamlessly transition between the mobile and desktop versions of your site — is going to be mandatory.

As more devices join the Internet of Things, you’ll need to be able to provide information through those as well. That includes voice-activated assistants like Alexa or Google Home, as well as other internet-enabled systems like smart TVs.

The best thing you can do to take advantage of this customer insight is to invest in a headless CMS that can deliver content to your clients, no matter where they’re accessing your system. With customers logged in to an account, you can even keep track of them as they move from point to point, and assist them as best you can be based on that information.

Looking Toward the New Year

2020 is going to be an exciting year when it comes to customer insight trends. As things like AI and predictive analytics start to emerge into the mainstream, we’ll see more real-time insights instead of data aggregated over time.

Whether you’re on top of these insight trends or are just hearing about them for the first time, you’re running out of time to get ready for 2020 and everything this new decade will bring.

Tim Ferguson is the Director of SEO at Right Mix Marketing, an SEO-focused link building agency that helps startups, small & medium businesses and enterprise clients with custom link building services.. He takes care of all the clients from closing to delivery. If you want to inquire about link building services of Right Mix Marketing, you can get in touch with Tim on [email protected]