Customer experience is entering a new age, as intelligent technologies are rapidly expanding what’s possible. Is your company poised to take advantage of new tech opportunities to grow the business?
At Beyond the Arc, our team is always tracking what’s next for customer experience. Here’s what we see coming around the bend this year…
Be ready to embrace new technologies
As innovative technologies forge ahead, so will the demands of your customers. Whether you serve consumers, businesses, or both, you’ll need to keep pace to meet evolving expectations. That’s why Beyond the Arc CEO, Steven Ramirez, sees the timing is finally right for customer journey analytics to take center stage:
“First and foremost, there isn’t a bank, retailer, mortgage lender, utility, telecom, healthcare provider, or tech startup that isn’t keenly aware of customer experience. What’s missing is a systemic, data-driven, way to assess it. Customer journey analytics leverages data that a company has from internal sources, as well as external data, for example from ad platforms, credit bureaus, and public entities. To generate insights, it leverages an end-to-end data platform that delivers on the promise of a 360-degree view of the customer. The heart of the technology stack is machine learning to understand behavior and predict future customer actions.”
Our communications and training specialist, Nina Katz, predicts:
“From agriculture to zoology – machine learning, artificial intelligence, and connected devices will influence what we do and how we do it. The gap will widen between early and late adopters, providing opportunities for services that help users to bridge the gap.”
Retail businesses are ramping up investments in AI to differentiate and improve customer experience. Global spending in AI tools is expected to grow to $7.3 billion a year by 2022, up from $2 billion in 2018, according to Juniper Research.
Deploy artificial intelligence (AI) where it works best
“AI hype is giving way to AI reality,” notes our data science expert, Bruce Johnson. Studies show 72% of business leaders consider AI a “business advantage,” and over 30% of enterprises have AI on their agenda. However, Bruce emphasizes that having a data strategy is critical to making AI pay off:
“AI works best in places where there is deep content background, such as in call center scripting. Or in places where there are extensively tagged outcomes, as in paths through a website that result in sales conversions. In situations without labeled data and outcomes, AI will continue to struggle.”
Speaking of call centers, Nina points out positive changes and areas that still need work:
“I’ve seen big improvements when contacting call centers. Companies will continue to upgrade the skills of service reps, but will they address phone tree issues that offset these gains?”
Ah yes, the dreaded phone tree. Fortunately, the current buzz says that intelligent IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is the number one trend to watch in contact center advancements for 2019.
Meet the increasing demand for AI devices
Intelligent technologies are taking the consumer market by storm with household AI devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers. Our PR and media relations leader, Ana Pallas, expects this trend to keep evolving:
“AI assistant speakers like Alexa are now commonplace in the household, and consumers will be more comfortable buying similar AI products in 2019. We can look for more AI device launches such as portable smart speakers and functional home robots, and more hands-free voice assistant options for cars. I also foresee better machine learning in voice recognition products so we’ll hear less ‘Hmmm…I don’t know that one.'”
In addition to home use, we can expect to see smart speakers expanding into the workplace. Our utilities analytics lead, Cynthia Jones-Hundley, explains:
“Businesses will incorporate smart speaker controls in the work environment and products. Benefits of these assistance devices will outpace adoption of smartphones. Household phones will be replaced with inexpensive smart speakers.”
Achieve the right balance between security and expectations
High-tech advancements like AI can transform your customer experience and deliver a wealth of new insights – but they also introduce new challenges for data security. Businesses need to maintain the latest robust encryption controls to safeguard customers and the enterprise. As our customer experience strategist, Christine Matteo, notes:
“New technologies have enabled companies to use massive amounts of customer data for analytics to help provide a smooth, consistent, streamlined process. In light of the many security issues that have come to the forefront, these companies will have to focus on the challenge of maintaining control over that data, balancing the new technologies (AI, virtual assistants, etc.) while still meeting the ever-growing expectations of customers.”