How Machines Will Shape the Customer Experiences of Tomorrow
In the quest to deliver a more personalized customer experience, businesses have found an unlikely ally in machines. From tiny sensors to artificially intelligent contact centers, machine-based technologies can help businesses better understand, serve and communicate with their customers.
This white paper, based on a recent survey conducted across six countries and 2,500 IT decision-makers, discovers businesses almost universally see machine-based technologies as a significant value-add in delivering a more personalized customer experience.
See an excerpt below or download the entire white paper.
Customer Experience Is King
Every business believes they offer something unique to their customers that differentiates them in the marketplace, whether it’s a patented product or a specialized service. Yet, increasingly, the key differentiator for companies isn’t simply what product or service they deliver, but how they deliver it.
In a world where online storefronts can be launched in weeks and entire industries disrupted in months, more businesses are (rightly) focusing on the customer experience as the new battlefield for market share and customer loyalty.
This will come as no surprise to those businesses that have closely watched the digital transformation of the last decade. Customers, particularly millennials, have readily embraced digital technologies in their day-to-day lives, from online shopping to mobile banking.
Today, exceptional customer service isn’t solely determined by face-to-face or voice-to-voice exchanges; it’s a multichannel and, frequently, machine-enhanced process that ties together voice, video, mobile and online channels to deliver a seamless and highly-personalized experience.
If you want to see the future of customer service, look to the habits of millennials:
- They are extremely connected to their mobile devices and take them everywhere.
- They use their smartphones to text more than talk, and are just as likely to use a social media app as their wireless service provider to communicate.
- They value privacy and yet are willing to share personal information in exchange for better service.
- They place a high premium on convenience and personalization and have few qualms about moving to a competitor if they can find a better combination of price and experience elsewhere.
Within the “millennial mandate” for convenience and connectivity lies a challenge and an opportunity for businesses. The challenge is to deliver a mobile, unified, digitized customer experience in a way that is affordable, sustainable and meaningful. The opportunity is to create a customer experience that fosters loyalty, increases satisfaction and drives revenue for years to come.
Giving Machines a Voice in the Future
One of the most exciting aspects of the evolving customer experience landscape is the ability to bring machine-enhanced communications into the experience. Like data analytics before it, machine-learning technologies and AI can help to deliver a much higher level of personalization and efficiency to customer transactions and interactions. Coupled with sensors and machine enhanced communications, businesses can now deliver a completely new kind of customer experience with their products and services.
We’ve already seen the beginning of this trend toward giving machines a voice with chatbots: software-based programs that “converse” with online customers, using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to move the conversation forward. Millennials, in particular, have displayed a high comfort factor with chatbots. In one UK-based survey, over 60 percent of millennials reported using chatbots, and 71 percent indicated they would welcome chatbot engagement from a recognizable brand.
While machines have the potential to positively transform customer service and contact center experiences, integrating machine-based communications with existing products and services can also have a dramatic impact on customer experience. For example, a professional services company might use machine sensors to diagnose repair issues before a technician arrives, resulting in shorter repairs and higher rates of first-time resolution. An airport might use video-enabled communications with its defibrillator stations to provide live assistance in the event of an emergency. And professional athletes may someday have communications-equipped helmets or wristbands tied to biometric sensors that alert coaches and physicians the moment a player is injured or dehydrated.
The UC imperative
Implicit in this customer experience transformation is the need for unified communications. Customers expect an omni-channel experience that extends seamlessly across their mobile and online interactions, and gives them the option of moving between voice, video, text and chat as the situation and personal preferences dictate. Equally important, customers expect contextual conversations that integrate their multichannel experiences so, for example, customer service agents on a voice call can quickly reference an online chat that transpired earlier in the day. Initiatives like these are fast becoming the norm for customer experiences, particularly in the competitive finance and retail industries.
It is true that some industries, and some regions, are farther along on the customer experience journey than others. Yet nearly all businesses agree customer experience improvements are a key part of their digital transformation, and that machine-based technologies have an important role to play in those improvements. In the following sections, we highlight some of the insights from our survey of more than 2,500 IT decision makers who shared their vision for the customer experience of tomorrow.