Your customer lives in a hyper-connected world. She demands that businesses know what she wants, when and how. She expects her experience with a business to be seamless, connected, and hassle-free. Businesses, product or service, are finding new ways to address Customer Experience (CX).
Customer experience, the way I see it, begins with using data to understand the customer, then deriving actionable insight from that data to achieve top-line growth and provide a consistent brand experience across all customer touchpoints. Most businesses succeed in any one of these areas, but seldom in all.
Unlocking ALL Sources to find the Real Value of Data
By 2020, the installed base of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide.  These devices will constantly collect and report data, but other emerging sources will, too. The world continues to be more social than ever before, so social media and mobile apps constantly add to the digital stream.
We have heard the claim that data is the “new oil.” But what good is oil if it’s not refined and used smartly? Unlocking data’s value requires analyzing and deciphering useful information and generating actionable insights. It is in taking information and insights and acting on them that businesses convert data’s perceived value into real value.
Advanced Technologies Can Take CX to the Next Level
Smart & Connected Devices
Smart, connected devices allow users to interact and engage with them in ways never imagined. Consider for example, an alarm clock that syncs with your calendar and real-time traffic data. Or a refrigerator that can notify you via smart phone that your milk has expired and can even order a new carton online, all by itself.
Businesses can tap into this connected ecosystem, mine the data and find ways for intelligent segmentation, upselling, cross-selling and even feature adoption. They can then use the data to enhance design, packaging and marketing, which increases reach and grows the top line. Businesses can also collect data from devices to give customers predictive and preventive maintenance, which increases brand stickiness and goodwill. Indeed, the possibilities with IoT are endless.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
A smart home owner’s expectation from his smart appliances are not just that they be proactive and predictive. She expects the devices to even apply some level of learning and self-healing. This is where Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) come in. AI- and ML-enabled devices are inevitable. The two key advancements today that have sparked this revolution are that machines can teach themselves (or learn) and that the internet provides the abundance of data that feeds ML.
What this means is that ML can significantly reduce the need for real agents for many transactions. ML get better every day at understanding the intent of a customer-initiated engagement. It can finally offer real-time personalization at scale through deep contextual analytics and customer behavior and reduce fraud, all while making your entire B2B eco-system intelligent. Best of all, ML is ready to deliver this next level of customer experience.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Most of the scenarios we spoke of are from a devices or product standpoint. But the actual experience starts before the device/product is even bought. Technologies like AR are disrupting how customers interact and engage with businesses and their products. Armed with a smartphone and an AR-enabled app, customers can now blend the virtual with the real world. AR gives customers the option of trying a product virtually from home.
AR comes in handy as a post-sales tool. Business can tap into AR for demos, how-to guides, product manuals or even as self-service tools. Aside from the cost and time saved for the customer and the business, AR improves overall customer experience and stickiness.
Blockchain has made transactions across multiple players highly trustworthy. More and more products today involve a globally distributed manufacturing, supply chain and distribution. So, a customer can trust organic produce or buy a house remotely. Partners can collaborate across the ecosystem to ensure a car is certified for quality not by an external agency after production, but by each stakeholder’s immutable stamp of validation at each stage. Likewise, these same technologies are enabling the gig economy.
The Guiding Force – The Experience Customers Want
The guiding force in customer experience are still customer needs and expectations. Technology only plays the role of an enabler. This is where a customer experience company’s role becomes significant. A seasoned provider knows and understands the fundamentals of customer expectations. It is for them to make use of technology to introduce a seamless, connected and hassle-free experience.
The two key elements of success while implementing these technologies are how you will put data at the center of your customer experience and how seamlessly you can mesh the digital and physical.
When we think technology disruption we imagine a big bang of sorts, but the disruption is actually much subtler. The question is not whether technology will disrupt your industry. The question is whether you or your competition will lead this disruption.
By Venkatesh Neelakantan Business Architect, Emerging Technology & Innovation