Customer experience (CX) has become the quintessential scale to choose between brands, and poor experience is a way of falling short in the buyer’s journey to seamless interaction. However, over time businesses have begun to adopt and understand that a key component to building their CX strategies is around the customer.
With rising expectations, the climb to the top is getting steeper in this rapidly evolving space. Each year there are predictions that CX will make the purchase decision easier and further improve the customer-business relationship. It has been rightly doing so with the increasing number of communication channels, CX metrics, and tools to support the point of contact.
According to Aberdeen, companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.
So, here’s how you can make every interaction count. Be relevant, and stay ahead of the competition with these top 10 customer experience trends to follow in 2018.
Trend #1: Shortened customer journeys
The journey mapping from pre-purchase to post-purchase is what businesses are focusing on currently with each step having several sub-steps, for instance, the self-service customer service desk. Over time, with CX technologies it has become easier to understand buying behavior and patterns through the historical data that is received.
But, brands are now looking to shorten each step of the journey and improve the experience by redefining the expectations in the process.
Trend #2: Machines are becoming partners rather than tools
According to Gartner, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human, by 2020. This has reflected in organizations adopting artificial intelligence technologies to reduce costs and increase productivity. As a part of the automation generation, it is critical to remain a competitive player in the market.
Keeping this in mind, many enterprises continue to reduce the cost burden by moving away from physical environments (eg; the contact center and agents) and employing bots and relying on them to perform repetitive tasks that otherwise a human being would take longer to complete.
Trend #3: Making experiences speak personalization
Whether it is a restaurant or an online retailer, personalization can be a part of any channel. Often, it is regarded as a benchmark for customers, when choosing between brands and staying loyal to them. This ability to personalize across channels is what will help enterprises succeed.
As customers come face-to-face with it, their expectations will also begin to increase, paving the way for organizations to track and monitor data and preferences to create more intelligent mechanisms of personalization using emerging technologies. For example, it will be about customized experiences during visits to hotels with individualistic entertainment or dining preferences.
Trend #4: Maintaining frictionless and consistent omnichannel communication
CX needs to be as uniform as possible, across any device or platform that your customers use to interact with you. In order to prevent any conflicts that may arise, enterprises are beginning to eliminate unlikely experiences, for instance, waiting in long billing queues and Amazon Go (a grocery store) chose to eliminate this challenge. Using a smartphone app along with sensors, items are tracked when they are removed or replaced on shelves, while the retailer knows exactly what is in the customer’s cart and upon exit are instantly charged to their account.
Trend #5: Higher-powered and Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA)
Right now, artificial virtual assistants are being used in many industries for a variety of processes. And with consumers growing comfortable speaking with bots, companies can maximize value from it, provided it creates a positive experience, making it a win-win situation.
The IVAs will be powered by artificial intelligence to match the level of human interaction and intelligence. They will be able to perform specialized tasks that are essential to provide superior CX.
Trend #6: Creating new challenges and opportunities with IoT
For a few years, Internet of Things has been trending and continues to be an area that is being heavily invested in. With IoT, the more the number of devices connected to a channel, the more possibilities to collect data and improve brand interactions.
IoT, for instance, allows contact centers to analyze data from millions of transactions and this can help accelerate proactive customer experience. IoT can also accelerate research and development.
With the help of user interaction data, companies can see how customers are using their products, and adjust future models to be more aligned to customer desires and behaviors.
Trend #7: Going mobile first
According to Smart Insights, apps constitute for 89% of mobile media time while the other 11% is spent on websites. As access to information is easier and quicker on smartphones, customers are all about interacting and making purchases using this medium. But one bad experience is all it takes for them to look for alternatives, but most importantly, lower a brand’s reputation.
Therefore, enterprises, over the last 5 years have taken a step towards being mobile friendly, so much so that some enterprises are choosing to have only a mobile strategy and focus only on that one medium.
Trend #8: Speech-enabled voice recognition
There will be a greater impact on voice recognition in 2018. Technological improvements have led to an increase in the number of voice-controlled home assistants and personal assistants like Siri or the Amazon Echo. Subsequently, businesses are also using speech-enabled service to deliver superior CX. Using Natural Language Processing and Understanding, customers will be able to have full-fledged conversations with bots while allowing businesses expand their capability to answer customer service issues with each interaction.
Trend #9: Location-based mobile communication
Beacon technology is said to change how CX will be received. A mix of GPS and Bluetooth, the wireless beacon technology will enable your mobile devices to alert applications when you move to specified areas, for instance, to track customers in real-time and push timely personalized messages.
While this has already emerged in the retail sector, there is potential for it to spread to other industries too to drive engagement and create more targeted campaigns.
Trend #10: Emotional Detection
Emotion in conversation is an essential part of the relationship between human and machine and technologies such as emotion-engines will help analyze input. It will be able to detect the customer’s exact feeling and prompt an immediate response. For example, during a chatbot conversation, using voice signals, the engine will able to sense elevated voice pitches and transfer the call to an agent.
The year 2017 has been a great year for customer experience – with mobile and artificial intelligence being the frontrunners across industries. Only a thin line separates a good experience from the bad, and one interaction – big or small – is all it takes. But, with 2018 just a few days away, if you haven’t entered the game of experiences yet, it’s not too late. The environment and the prize is always changing.
This article was originally published in ET techRead Now
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