In my last article, I wrote about how expectations of the customer experience will fundamentally change in the coming years. Millennials and Generation Z expect brands to have sophisticated self-service offerings. As the CTO of a company that streamlines customer care operations, I’ve seen firsthand how fast access to products and services, combined with seamless processes without media disruptions and channel changes, is at the top of the list of priorities for customers.
How can companies prepare to meet these requirements? It goes without saying that one of the keys to a modern customer experience lies in technological innovation. Many of the great technologies with which companies have experimented in recent years are now well-developed. Let’s take a look at the key technology trends that I believe will accelerate customer experience innovation in 2019.
24/7 Service Via Conversational Bots
It’s a well-known fact that customers are impatient. Eighty-two percent of customers expect to receive an immediate answer to marketing- and sales-related questions, and this figure is as high as 90% for issues relating to customer service. The traditional waiting-loop principle in call centers has become a thing of the past; an agent now has to respond to customer inquiries via chat or voice in just a few minutes.
Companies can use artificially intelligent chatbots to offer their customers direct access to competent customer service. However, this is a million miles from the wooden, scripted dialogues that many customers have had to endure on websites in recent years.
New conversational bots behave like human agents and respond to a customer’s specific concerns. They use emotional intelligence and can empathize with their customers. Even the choice of words, expression and pitch of voice adapt to the respective situation. Google impressively demonstrated what this looks like in practice with its conception of Google Duplex.
2019 will be the first year that we encounter conversational bots on a larger scale in everyday life. Customers will benefit from fast service and businesses from economies of scale through automation. Call center teams will be able to focus their energy on more complex service requests.
Deep Customer Insights Via IoT
By 2019, the number of smartphone users is expected to exceed the magic threshold of 5 billion. In addition, there are currently more than 26 billionconnected IoT devices. With 5G, a new mobile communications standard is in the starting blocks that will make high-speed internet and mobile connectivity available anytime, anywhere. Prices for IoT sensors are hitting rock bottom and have more than halved within a few years.
In short, universal connectivity in all areas of daily life is on the way — and it is closer than you may think! Thanks to many new data points, companies are gaining completely new insights into the usage behavior and lifestyle of their customers at a level of detail that would have been unimaginable until recently.
Previous assumptions about the desires and expectations of customers now give way to facts. This allows for the development of effective customer experience strategies that are geared to the actual behaviors of customers. The combination of IoT sensors with products and services individualizes customer experiences at scale. Customers receive exactly what corresponds to their real behaviors and habits.
In 2019, the advertising industry will find new opportunities to tailor campaigns even more individually to customers. Customer service organizations will be able to anticipate their customers’ questions and problems through intelligent connectivity and remote diagnosis using sensors, thereby further improving the service experience.
Intelligent Analytics Via Machine Learning
As IoT connectivity progresses, the volume of data points also grows exponentially, which in turn leads to a sharp rise in the amount of data collected. The volume of data generated worldwide is set to double every two years in the next decade. We will produce a data volume of 45,000 exabytesby 2020.
However, data volumes alone do not lead to improvements. It is only automated data processing, with the help of machine learning, that creates the prerequisites for the further development of the customer experience. Using intelligent analyses based on self-learning algorithms, companies will be able to gain valuable insights into the behavior of their customers and can derive new approaches for improving the customer experience.
What conditions make customers happy? Is there anything that causes customers to react less positively? Answers to such questions have been collected for quite some time. However, machine learning-based applications now provide the tools to derive new insights from this data as automatically and autonomously as possible. In short, big data becomes smart data.
2019 will be an evolutionary year for the technology world as it relates to the customer experience. In recent years, fundamentally disruptive innovations have been devised, tested and refined in the research and development stages. The challenge now is to put them to profitable practical use for companies and customers to reap the benefits. There is no better field for this than the customer experience field — one of the most important competitive factors of the present and future.