Customer experience is changing rapidly.
We’re on the cusp of new digital technologies changing the customer’s view of what to expect from brands. In particular, speed, efficiency, performance, quality, empathy – these are just some of the expectations customers feel companies should deliver. Thankfully, the world has experienced a revolution in the digital realm, usually reserved for science fiction novels and movies.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), big data, Virtual Reality (VR), smart chatbots, and cloud computing are some of the tremendous leaps in this digital renaissance. These emerging technologies are changing consumer behaviour and how they interact with brands. Businesses need to stay on top of these trends by technological immersion – using innovative ways to engage with customers while providing satisfying service.
Here are the top five technologies poised to disrupt the status quo and transform the customer experience for years to come.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) deployment throughout the customer experience industry has continued for several years now. Automation ensures handling of support tickets depending on severity, speeding up the process, and avoiding backlogs. AI is already being used in people and public records searches, as well as a location finding tool for businesses. AI is used for solving crime, virtual assistance, shopping, healthcare and sports analytics, among others.
Companies like Google, Tesla, and Amazon are all vying for supremacy in the AI-powered personal assistant sweepstakes. These tech giants are all jostling for pole position in the everyday lives of consumers, from AI-powered Internet of Things (IoT) homes to cars that can drive and park themselves. It wouldn’t take much to incorporate automatic customer service functions to existing personal assistant models such as Alexa or Siri. They can provide product or service assistance on the spot, without having to call an actual agent.
Voice search is a technology that allows users to use their voice to find whatever they need online. A large number of people are already using voice search as default tool. According to reports, 56% of adults use Google, Cortana, or Siri on their devices. Adoption rates for voice search will only grow as the technology becomes better at interpreting and comprehending human speech patterns. Incorporating relevant and personalised search combined with fast results has enabled brands to take advantage of customer demands for ease of use and speed. For instance, Amazon’s Alexa lets users shop via the app by using their voice. Likewise, Domino’s Pizza launched an app that allows customers to order online without using a menu.
Virtual Reality (VR) is already enhancing customer experiences in various industries, like retail and automobiles. Alibaba launched a VR marketing campaign where customers could visit partner stores in different countries and buy whatever they need, all via a VR headset.
The automobile industry has been making similar strides towards “people-less” showrooms. Car brands such as Volvo, Audi, and Jaguar have virtual showrooms where prospective buyers can check out the interiors of a vehicle. They can also experience the thrill of being inside one – all before booking a real test drive. VR is also useful in real estate for virtual house tours, and even in therapeutic healthcare, where peaceful scenes are offered for stress relief and relaxation.
Visual search is another technology is impacting the customer experience. This feature allows customers to find exactly what they are looking for. If regular search uses typed words to scour the web for results, visual search uses the pixels in an uploaded image and compares it to millions of other photos to find similar results. A case in point, Google’s image search is one of the most popular applications for this type of search. Similarly, Amazon outfitted their mobile app with visual recognition. This factor makes it easier for shoppers to snap a picture of a product and do an automated search on the Amazon website.
Facebook’s “DeepFace” facial recognition software uses a similar mechanism, but on facial features such as the distance between the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. DeepFace gives social media users the ability to tag other people in a picture with an accuracy of 97.25%, regardless of angles and lighting conditions. The combination of using public records and Facebook makes it easier to find anyone online.
AR technology uses computer-generated video and audio aided by GPS. They add real-life 3D graphics to real environments using a supported device. For example, Pokemon Go and Google’s AR animals are perfect examples of augmented reality at work in the real world. Thus, AR can play a massive role in enhanced customer experience.
The power of AR technology in advertising was fully displayed when the Pepsi used HD screens installed on bus shelters. It showed a tiger on the hunt or an enraged robot. Likewise, popularity of Snapchat has exploded among social media users. Google offered AR animals kids can view in their living rooms during the COVID-19 lockdown. The global market for augmented reality is growing.
AR products are to soar by 80% or $165 billion in 2024.
The customer experience of the future will look vastly different from where it stood a decade ago. Moreover, warm and smiling customer service agents ready to assist will exist, but they will most likely be virtual constructs made from strings of code that exist in the cloud. As technologically efficient as these virtual service representatives are. While customer service still needs the soft skills that only humans possess, such as empathy and warmth, understanding is the key to excellent customer service and one of the best ways to earn a person’s trust. Therefore, it’s still the human touch that will lead to brand loyalty and consumer advocacy.
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