Expectations for customer engagement continue to grow at an exponential rate. According to Microsoft’s 2016 State of Global Customer Service Report which surveyed 5,000 customers across Brazil, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, 72% of customers already expect a customer service agent to know their contact information, product information and service history without being asked when they engage for support.
According to the same report, 77% have a more favorable view of an organization that offers proactive customer notifications. And while most brands are still working to improve on reactive, proactive and personalized customer engagement, its predictive that has set the next bar.
In the Walker Customers 2020 report, more than 200 global business and customer experience professionals were asked what type of customer experience metrics they currently focus on most. Today, 60% say it’s metrics showing what has happened to customers in the past. But by 2020, 83% say it will be metrics showing what the customer intends to do in the future.
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Note the authors, “Today, it is reactionary, after the fact. In 2020, customers will expect firms to be ahead of them, knowing what they need before they themselves have shown the need.”
Customer service professionals, who play a tremendous role in customer engagement, agree. In the Dimension Data 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report which surveyed 1,320 professionals across 81 countries and 14 industries, customer analytics was voted the top industry shaper over the next five years.
And in marketing, roughly four in 10 of the in-house teams and agencies surveyed by Econsultancy say they are either using, implementing, or budgeting for predictive analytics. Seventy percent (70%) say customer engagement is their highest priority for developing these capabilities – which goes hand in hand with increasing revenue, the other top priority.
Quickly setting apart the leaders from the laggards in this area (beyond adoption) is the ability to turn collected data into action. According to Forrester Research, 73% of companies surveyed said they understand the business value of data and aspire to be data-driven, but just 29% say that they can currently turn data into action.
Artificial intelligence may just provide the boost brands need. In a 2017 webcast available on demand, Constellation Research Founder and Principal Analyst Ray Wang notes he believes AI will have the greatest impact for the greatest number of businesses in the future.
“If you talk to Cortana and use conversations as a service, you see recommendations pop up. People talk to their phones today. People talk to devices in their house.
“That piece is learning from you – and all the self-learning and machine learning parts of AI are going to have the greatest amount of business impact inside every organization.”
In the webcast, Wang presents the seven spectrums of outcome for AI based on its ability to continuously learn:
1. Perception (what’s going on?)
2. Notification (what do I need to know?)
3. Suggestion (what should I do?)
4. Automation (what should always happen?)
5. Prediction (what can I expect?)
6. Prevention (what can I avoid?)
7. Situational Awareness (what do I need to do right now?)
The future of customer engagement is bright, intelligence-based – and highly competitive. Time to get started on predictive if you haven’t already.