Technology has prompted businesses to evolve the way they interact with customers.
As consumers become more and more cognizant of their influence to make or break a business’ reputation, they demand nothing less but an exceptional customer experience, and rightly so.
According to a study looking into fresh insights for customer experience conducted by Walker, “by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.”
With advances in technology, businesses today have a variety of tools at their disposal to ensure a seamless and individualized experience for their customers —from the first point of contact down to the post-purchase stage.
With this in mind, both large blue-chip corporations and small to medium enterprises have come to rely on different channels and platforms to deliver the best customer experience possible.
Right now, these include mobile support, appropriate given the massive increase in smartphone adoption and usage; live chat options that allow customers near instant contact and response; and social media engagement where brands and customers can engage in meaningful conversations with ease.
Despite best efforts, there are gaps in the current customer experience model.
For instance, not all consumers are as tech-savvy as the millennials, and if you’re dealing with a multi-generational audience, it’s likely that older generations may face challenges in terms of adoption and ease of use when using these new tools.
In terms of response times, there’s always room for improvement. When it comes to addressing audience concerns, the faster you reply, the better. But this can be difficult to achieve when the goal is to deliver a customized and personalized message to every customer you want to reach out to.
So where does this leave businesses now? How can you then approach customer experience given the new demands of an evolving market?
The answer lies in the kind of technology that will shape the future customer experience.
Here are 5 of the hottest technologies driving customer experiences today.
1) Internet of Things (IoT)
The growth of IoT will play a huge role in customer experience.
As defined by Wikipedia, “Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to connect and exchange data. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to inter-operate within the existing Internet infrastructure."
The technology is poised to transform the way businesses and customer interact with each other, now that companies would be able to receive and infer data-driven information straight from the various devices used by consumers.
This then gives them a better understanding of customer behavior, which will result in customers receiving more personalized service and products, while also maintaining checks to ensure consumer privacy.
2) Mobile Devices
Mobile is the now as well as the future, especially in an era when mobile devices are fast becoming the primary mode of customer engagement. This trend was largely prompted by the massive improvements in mobile devices and infrastructure supporting the evolution of mobile technology.
Combined with continuously improving data speeds, widespread use of social media, the proliferation of apps, and popularity of instant messaging and chat, it’s clear that mobile has established itself as the primary medium for commerce and communication today.
Given this, it’s apparent that if companies want to set themselves apart through their ability to reach and engage customers, prioritizing a mobile-first user experience is a must.
3) Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR)
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are steadily planting their roots in the entertainment and gaming industry, but it won’t be long before the customer service field will see practical applications of these new technologies.
Soon, customer experience in its quest to provide more personal and unique service will rely on VR and AR to deliver a visually immersive and interactive experience.
For example, the furniture company IKEA has already integrated VR and AR into their customer experience to provide a realistic look at what your home would look like with their furniture.
4) Artificial Intelligence (AI)
In the field of science and research, AI has already proven itself as a useful tool for analysis and data gathering. In the customer experience industry, AI presents massive opportunities for interpreting Big Data (the collection of a customer’s browsing history, location, etc.) in order to deliver highly targeted, relevant and intuitive marketing campaigns.
Additionally, AI is being used for customer service departments to automate responses, sorting and routing different types of customer inquiries, as well as identifying issues within the customer service process.
5) Text Messaging & Chatbots
An ever-increasing need to engage and address customer inquiries means that companies need to expand their customer communication channels to make it faster and more convenient for customers to reach them.
Speaking of fast and convenient, text messaging has consistently proven itself to be a reliable and efficient way to reach and engage customers; in addition to the fact that most customers still prefer texting.
Through the years, businesses continue to adopt text messaging to better serve customers.
Messaging consistently proves its convenience, versatility, speed and ease of use; easily integrating itself seamlessly into the customer journey. Because texting as a communication tool actually fits into every stage of the customer journey, messaging stands out as a very powerful tool for providing exceptional customer experiences, even more than email, voice calls or live chat.
Business text messaging platforms like Zingle can take customer text communications to the next level by segmenting customers based on categories, location, interests and more so that automated message flows can be set up to streamline communications.
For example, The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas utilized text messaging and created a persona called "Rose" to communicate with guests through a balance between chatbot and human interactions.
Rose automatically handles 80-90% of text message conversations with guests. From hours & locations to hotel amenities such as pool, gym and spa, to dinner & drink recommendations at their 20 bars & restaurants.
The best part? Guests who interact with Rose spend 39% more than guests who don't.
The bottom line is no one can predict the future with certainty.
It's evident that in the not too distant future, brand and customer will be inextricably linked. Technology has and will continue to empower the consumer, and this will ultimately shape how brands deliver exceptional customer experience.
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