In seeking to offer a more personalized customer experience, companies have found in machines an unsuspected ally. From smaller sensors to contact centers using Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine-based technologies can help organizations better understand, serve and connect with their customers.
The customer experience is queen
Every company is convinced of offering something unique to its customers, which allows it to differentiate itself in the market, whether it is a patented product or a specialized service. However, the key differentiator for companies is not just the product or service they offer, but the way it is delivered.
In a world where online storefronts can be launched in a matter of weeks and entire industries can be disrupted for months, more companies are rightly emphasizing customer experience, new battleground of market shares and customer loyalty.
This is not really a surprise for companies that have been following the digital transformation for the last ten years. Customers, especially Millennials, have embraced digital technologies in their day-to-day lives, from online shopping to mobile banking.
Today, exceptional customer service is not just about face-to-face or voice conferencing, it’s about a multichannel process, often machine-enhanced, that brings together voice, video, mobile, and voice online to offer a fluid and highly personalized experience.
If you want to see what the future of customer service is, observe the habits of people from Generation Y:
- They are attached to their mobile devices and take them everywhere with them.
- They use their smartphone more to send SMS than to talk and are just as likely to use a social network application as a wireless service provider to communicate.
- Protecting their privacy is important to them, even if they are willing to share personal information in exchange for better service.
- They attach great value to convenience and personalization, and have little scruples about going to a competitor if they can find a better experience / price ratio elsewhere.
For businesses, the “Generation Y contract” for convenience and connectivity is both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to deliver a mobile, unified and digitized customer experience that is affordable, sustainable and useful. The opportunity is to create a customer experience that promotes loyalty, increases satisfaction and generates revenue for years to come.
Give the machines a voice in the future
One of the most exciting aspects of evolving customer experience is the ability to enrich the experience through improved machine communication. Like the analysis of data in its time, machine learning technologies and AI can contribute to a much greater personalization and efficiency of customer transactions and interactions. With sensors and improved machine communication, companies are now able to enrich their products and services with a completely new kind of customer experience.
We are already seeing the beginning of this trend, which gives voice to machines via chatbots, software programs that “converse” with online customers and use Artificial Intelligence and predictive analytics to advance the conversation. Generation Y, in particular, displays great ease with chatbots. In a UK study, more than 60% of Generation Y respondents reported using chatbots and 71% indicated that they would willingly discuss chatbot with a known brand.
Although machines have the potential to positively transform customer service and contact center experiences, integrating machine-based communication into your existing products and services can also have a significant impact on the customer experience. For example, a professional services company may use machine sensors to diagnose problems before a technician arrives, resulting in shorter repair times and a higher first-time resolution rate. An airport can link video communication to its defibrillators to provide live help in case of an emergency. And professional athletes may one day be equipped with communicating helmets or wristbands linked to biometric sensors that can alert coaches and doctors to injury or dehydration.
The Unified Communications (UC)
This transformation of the customer experience implicitly requires unified communications. Customers expect an omni-channel experience that seamlessly integrates with their online and mobile interactions, while giving them the ability to switch between voice, video, SMS, and chat based on their situation and personal preferences.
Equally important is that customers require contextual conversations that integrate with their multichannel experiences to, for example, allow customer service agents who process a voice call to quickly reference an online chat session that has place earlier in the day. Initiatives like these are becoming the rule for customer experience, especially in the competitive financial and retail sectors.
It must be recognized that some industries and regions are more advanced than others in the path of customer experience. That being said, almost all companies agree that improving the customer experience is a key element of their digital transformation and that technology has an important role to play in this regard. In the following sections, we highlight some points from our survey of more than 2,500 IT decision makers who shared with us how they envision tomorrow’s customer experience.