For many organizations, customer experience is becoming increasingly important. It’s not about what is delivered to customers, but how it’s delivered. Forrester defines customer experience (CX) as “how customers perceive their interactions with your company.” But it’s much more than that; according to Deloitte, CX measures how customers feel about a company overall and include the emotional, physical, psychological connection customers have with a brand. It isn’t a one-off interaction, but rather includes the entire customer lifecycle and every touchpoint a customer has with a product or service.
CX is important for a business because it is a determining factor as to whether or not a customer is likely to be a loyal one. In fact, 60 percent more customers are willing to pay for better customer experience. What’s more, organizations who invest in delivering a better customer experience are likely to see a 70 percent increase in revenue over three years.
When done right, CX gives customers the following:
- Delivering what they actually want (not what you think they need)
- Servicing rather than processing your customers – a service culture is much more effective at delivering on needs and treating customers like humans and not just numbers on a spreadsheet
- Empowering your staff to deliver the ideal experience
One way of achieving this is through emerging technologies. Emerging technologies have limitless potential for delivering an experience that will truly resonate with your customers, with personalized, contextualized engagement as a benchmark. We’ve mentioned before in this series that emerging technologies are only possible when you’ve mastered the basic technologies. And that can’t be truer, especially when it comes to its application to CX.
In order to implement emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR), AI/ML, and blockchain, the fundamental technologies such as cloud, data analytics, and application integration need to be in place. That being said, let’s take a look at five emerging technologies that are reshaping the customer experience.
While AR is by no means a new idea, its applications are becoming more mainstream, especially when it comes to customer experience. With the rise of AR experiences for iOS or Android, brands can deliver engaging experiences to customers that change the way they can access products and imagine how they can fit into their everyday lives. This is especially true when it comes to retailers; customers don’t even have to go into a store to test a product and make a purchasing decision.
An example of this is Pottery Barn, who offers an AR app for its Pottery Barn and PBteen brands that lets users drag and drop items in a room to see how they work with existing furniture and decor. They also can completely empty a room to start the design process from scratch, and shoppers can purchase the items they like right from the app. AR isn’t just limited to an app; it can offer customers an enhanced in-store experience. Beauty brand CoverGirl, for example, opened its flagship store with an AR makeup station where shoppers can virtually try on a range of products.
We are all familiar with voice capabilities, from Apple’s Siri to Amazon’s Alexa. According to a recent survey of 500 IT business decision-makers, 28 percent of enterprises have already adopted voice capabilities to improve customer experience, while another 57 percent are planning on deploying it in the next year. Additionally, 88 percent of respondents believe that voice technology will give them a competitive advantage when it comes to customer experience.
Currently, there are two main use cases for voice technology. The first is a fully immersive voice experience that is engaging and entertaining. An example of this is what Johnnie Walker is doing on Amazon’s Alexa. Users can ask Alexa to “open Johnnie Walker” to access information about whiskey, cocktail recipes, and more. The second is more of a utility that uses data and audio feedback to make a user’s task easier or more seamless. An example is with television remotes, where you can speak into the remote to access a program rather than navigating to it.
If you have a newer car, chances are you are already beginning to see this with features such as Apple’s CarPlay, giving users all the features of their phone at the touch of a button in the car. With an estimated 10 million self-driving cars expected to hit the road by next year, demand for in-car entertainment and on-demand services will increase.
GM, for example, already lets customers order coffee from their cars via its in-car screens. It offers users Marketplace, a commerce platform that enables on-demand reservations and purchases of goods and services from brands such as Starbucks, Shell, Dunkin’ Donuts, TGI Fridays, and more.
We can’t have an emerging technologies discussion without mentioning AI and ML. While these technologies seem to be ubiquitous nowadays, AI is going to give businesses an advantage in the future when it comes to customer experience. AI and machine learning have been top-of-mind for companies for a number of years while chatbots for customer service has seen the most maturity in recent years. Anymore, you can’t visit an e-commerce website without being welcomed by one among landing on the homepage.
AI/ML is used in a number of use cases by marketers in an attempt to get to better know their customers. One example is using AI in customer journey strategies, using predictive analytics when the customer is in the funnel to better serve them with the right message at the right time. Another area for potential? Facial recognition. The use case for this is to be able to identify a customer when they walk in the door, offering up personalized offers right off the bat. Additionally, AI can be designed specifically to help resolve and identify customer service issues faster and to identify new product opportunities or potential leads for the sales team. AI can be a major tool in helping everyone do their jobs better, and create new business opportunities.
Of all of the technologies mentioned, blockchain is making major strides when it comes to R&D and maturity. According to a Juniper Research Study, 65 percent of enterprises with over 10,000 employees are considering or actively engaged in blockchain deployment.
Some states in the United States are now standardizing their record-keeping using blockchain technology, creating a digital audit trail. Additionally, businesses are starting to look to blockchain to create micro-payments. This can be beneficial to businesses with small transaction values who struggle due to high transaction costs for electronic payment systems; micro-payments via digital currency offer an alternative. Lastly, blockchain can be applied to the healthcare community, resulting in significant savings. Providers are using it to manage electronic health records and handling patient data is clear in addition to providing visibility into the drug supply chain.
With more and more customers placing emphasis on customer experience, it’s up to businesses to deliver. Customer experience is the way of the future for building repeat customers and loyal ones at that. While building customer experience is a multi-fold process, emerging technologies is one step companies can take to help businesses provide customers with the ideal customer experience.