As time goes by, customer experience systems must change, not only to meet new technological and business standards, but also the attitudes and shifting demographics of user bases, regardless the industry or the field in which a company specializes. Customer experience is paramount to a company’s success and incorporates many different forms of customer interaction. First, it encompasses the marketing, be it advertising or acquisition, which links the customer to the product or service. Second, it includes the direct interaction between the customer and the product or service, itself. Finally, it also includes the relationship the customer has with the company, be it by customer service when problems or questions arise, or by price point and reward for loyal patronage. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the top 5 customer experience systems and trends that are emerging in 2013, and why they are so vital to freeing us of the shackles of old ideals. #1 – Applied Crowdsourcing Applied crowdsourcing differs from traditional crowdsourcing in one specific way. Where old crowdsourcing models were not structured and were relegated primarily to basic topics of customer service, this new model is more flexibly, and more directed. With applied crowdsourcing, new products and services, new features or derivatives of existing ones, and ways to improve things can be harnessed directly from users by setting up contests and user submission systems. Cola companies are on the forefront of this system, and have used it for several years to aid in package design, branding and derivative products. It’s also applicable in customer service, by way of providing incentives via discounts or gamification to direct users to help other users, and alleviate the workload on CRM departments. This is a novel approach, and probably needs some refinement to become as cost effective as old models, but it’s on its way to becoming the next big way to handle some aspects of customer experience. #2 – Text Analytics Text analytics are on their way to becoming the smart solution that companies had hoped phone voice recognition would be, until it turned out it didn’t work whatsoever. Text analytics is the result of new computing models using an old, but smartly applied technology known as “Regular Expressions”. Technobabble aside, these expressions allow for fuzzy logic in analyzing text input. What can this do? Basically, it allows for keeping metrics on customer feedback in a remarkably efficient manner, and can also serve as a method to put customers in contact with the right departments and CRM professionals by expressing their concerns in an unguided paragraph or two of text. Phone trees tried to do this and failed, but phone trees are becoming mercifully obsolete in the new world. Text analytics also aid in outreach to customers through marketing and will one day serve to create forecasting models for customer needs before the customers even know they have these needs to begin with. #3 – Social Media Outreach The technology behind social media is not new, but only now are companies beginning to embrace it for CRM and marketing. Once, companies had social network pages and just put general information on them as an attempt to seem trendy. Once social media proved to no longer be a fad, they failed, in many cases, to take the next step. Marketing through Twitter is a brilliant strategy, but few companies are harnessing this. It’s also great for non-sensitive user feedback, but again, few companies are tapping this potential very well. With the automation sites like this permit for corporate accounts, and with the text analytics tools listed in the previous subtopic, this is now feasible to be a one stop framework for these purposes. In fact, it would work great to facilitate the applied crowdsourcing too. #4 – Website Onboarding and the Digital Concierge Web technology, on its basic level, has become almost more powerful than the secondary technologies it serves. Where Flash and other systems ruled the domain of interactivity, with web scripts existing only as their thrones, this has changed recently with the advent of programmable, boxed AJAX and HTML5 customer experience systems. These do not have the platform and computing power requirements of older systems and also do not have the limitations, being natively part of the websites in general. They are often used for tutorial creation or web interface creation, which also contribute to customer experience. With their content aware capabilities and their ability to interact with the web on a fundamental level, they could aid greatly in CRM in the future, as well as automation and storage/retrieval, making the interaction with the web that much smarter. These are in their infancy, but are already widely applied for their original purposes. It just takes one brave company to try taking them the next step, for this type of framework to literally explode across the web as the new standard. #5 – Logistics and Data Leverage for Forecasting Google is on the forefront of this and has been for some time. Only as of 2013 are systems for this being widely adopted by most companies, and Google is of course the provider of them. The concept here is to acquire large amounts of user data, be it browsing habits, search queries or any number of other information and to use computing models to see patterns and shared traits between users. With enough information, forecasts of future customer needs and trends can be created with an acceptable level of accuracy. This is something that all of the other customer experience tools on this list lend to from the customer’s end of the concept. This data leverage system is the unifying theory to tie it all together in a completely new, yet-unnamed model of customer experience which will probably reshape the world in times to come. 2013 is just getting steam, and already the way we view customer experience systems is changing drastically. It’s hard not to wonder how different the world will be by the time 2014 gets here.