Blogs- Polestar Solutions
11 May

Top 5 Technology Trends Reshaping Customer Experience Forever

As per an AmEx Global Customer Service Barometer, 83% of Americans expressed a willingness to pay more for a better Customer Experience (CX). And if that doesn’t speak volumes about the impact a differentiating or a bad CX can have in a 24*7 virtually connected world, then read the next stat.

The same study talked about the multiplier effect a positive or a negative experience can ignite and it is bent heavily in favour of a negative CX. Americans on average were likely to share a bad experience with 16 other people in their network as compared to only 9 while experiencing a good service or product. Sounds unfair, right?

Well, they say the customer is a king for a reason!

Not maintaining an impactful and hassle-free CX is an existential threat for brands. Companies spend hefty dollars to save their brands from getting hanged on social media gallows, but, often it is too late and had already done some significant damage.

Over the years, companies have realized the importance of a great customer experience at every single customer journey touchpoints, it not just creates a loyal customer base but also avoids money going down the drain in firefighting negative publicity gone viral.

Yum! Brands CEO David Novak, for example, has given every employee the latitude to spend up to ten dollars to fix any customer problem.

Forward-looking organisations are investing in the development and empowerment of the front-line staff - usually the first touchpoint or the company’s face for the customer base. Furthermore into omnichannel technologies and practices that aid and address customer grievances at the earliest.

Let’s dive into the top 5 technology uses cases impacting the CX along with some unique and interesting real-world examples.
 

1. Customer Analytics for CX - Better Customer Support and Journey Map:

Every single customer interaction across channels (omnichannel) results in a trail of information that could be harnessed to build intelligence and that’s exactly where customer analytics finds its application.

Sales channel analysis: It is important to know the best and worst-performing sales channels for you and how your customers interact there, what are those defining traits that work in favour or against you. A thorough behavioural understanding of each channel and major reasons for a bad experience is important which may vary across

  • Difficulty in completing the purchase (technical errors)
  • Negative experiences with customer support (Rude behaviour)
  • Bad or faulty product/ service
  • Longer wait time for incident resolution
  • Ignoring customer feedback

Companies should put extra emphasis on the top-performing channels to create a consistent and satisfactory experience and gradually adopt the practices across poor performing channels for effective customer experience management (CXM).

Customer journey mapping with analytics: Customer journey analytics maps the customer engagement or interaction at each step and aims to pinpoint the areas of concern. A simple example could be - buyers adding products to the cart but not checking out, this could be due to

  • Pricing mismatch - he wants an offer or discount
  • Searching for a complimentary item to go with the last product
  • An error on the checkout page - payment gateway error or a faulty button

at this juncture, a proactive approach can nudge the customer towards completing a purchase. In each of these situations, such as a timely offer or a reminder to check out in case the product is selling fast, giving out complimentary product recommendations and resolving the fault on the checkout page respectively can lead to increased conversion ratio along with creating an impactful user experience.

Sentiment analysis: In a world where data is generated at an unprecedented pace and social networks offer a perfect way to vent out frustrations, companies must keep an eye out for what people are saying about their brand. With sentiment analysis, the text from social media, blogs and review or rating sites is analysed.

There are several social listening and monitoring tools available to gather this data, so data gathering is hardly any concern. The primary concern is acting in time, so real-time data and consistent monitoring are of the essence.

Customer churn analytics: Acquiring new customers is always more demanding than retaining the existing ones. This holds for any company whether it’s an established brand like Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks or a startup. Customer churn analytics focuses on identifying customers in different stages of brand loyalty:

Switchers - ones that do not attach any importance to the brand name
Habitual buyers - satisfied with the brand but might switch if they feel any inconvenience in purchasing    from you or a competitors product is easily available
Switching cost buyers - sticking with the brand because of an upfront cost - in term of money, effort and time. If a competitor eliminates this switching cost they might switch.
Brand likers - they like the brand and are very passionate about it. They would recommend the brand if someone comes up to them for suggestions and defend the brand in their day-to-day interactions.
Brand Loyalists - these are typically brand champions, they go out of their way to give a shout-out and act as brand ambassadors/ promoters. They identify themselves with the brand.

With customer experience analytics, companies build intelligence on the customers in different stages to push them upwards on the buyer’s pyramid and for effective customer experience management (CXM).

Customer Analytics for CX in Focus - Zara: The Spanish Apparel Retailer

The famous Spanish Fashion-retail brand - Zara does a marvellous job of capturing its customers’ preferences. It covers the lengths and breaths via combining deep-rooted customer analytics with qualitative observations from each store manager, regularly. It is done by cleverly prodding the customers with questions like - “would you prefer if the length of the dress longer or shorter?” or “what colour do they prefer and why is it?”. This results in a substantial reduction in failed introductions - a mere 1% whereas the industry averages 10%. Further, it allows them to churn out fashion at scale - 10 times faster than the rest, and where there’s already a buyer intent.
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2. AI & ML for CX - Customer Assistance & Intelligent Recommendations:

With the number of queries getting generated, companies can’t have people responding to every single one. Whereas with a receding attention span of the consumers and increasing adoption of cloud-based platforms, customers expect 24*7 open communication channel and artificial intelligence (AI) & machine learning (ML) are pivotal to ramp-up brands’ efforts.

As per McKinsey’s “Notes from the AI frontier: Applications and value of deep learning Mckinsey report”, AI alone is expected to influence retail revenue of nearly $600 Billion of which $100 Billion will alone be through improvements in customer services. 

Let’s look at some applications of AI & ML for improving Customer experience that is proving remarkable.

Partial or Complete Automation of Customer Queries with Chatbot:

Chatbots can automatically respond to commonly asked customer queries without losing any time and for more detailed redressal they connect with the customer support executives, termed as intelligent routing, reducing the burden on the customer support teams. These chatbots are increasingly getting advanced with AI & ML coming into play. These chatbots learn from the historical as well as real-time customer-support staff interactions and over time could perfectly mimic human intelligence.

Intelligent Product & Services Recommendations:

Another aspect of AI that is driving impact is product or service recommendations. Remember when you are buying something through e-commerce, you get a snippet of other items people tend to buy with the items in your cart and most often this comes right above the checkout button. Also, in case of products of higher value purchase or with electronics, you nudged to buy insurance or bundled extended warranty with a discount. All of it is a doing on an AI solution working at the backend. This enhances the CX as well as makes selling easier for the company, a win-win for both parties.

 

3. VR & AR for CX - Unmatched Shopper Convenience

When it comes to enhancing experience, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are kept in high regard by the CX experts. AR & VR instruments heighten the audio and visual senses to offer an immersive experience, comparable to an in-store experience. It is adding value across the following areas:

Easier Demonstration, Customization & Preview before a Purchase:

AR & VR technologies have caught the attention of the shopper. The COVID-19 pandemic stricken 2020 was a curse for business, disrupting usual business operations. But, with people remaining confined to their homes, several Ecommerce and Retail chains started rolling out their mobile apps with AR & VR features to try on outfits like clothes, shades and accessories. And many a time it was the new players who rolled out these functionalities faster, challenging the established businesses to follow suit.

Some of the trending use cases that have emerged are:

  • Virtual fitting rooms
  • the product in its actual environment
  • Usage in the Entertainment experiences
  • More personalized experience with the App or platform

Improved New launches and Business practices:

Applications of AR/VR, don’t just work towards improving CX when they are interacting with brands, they also help businesses to gauge the consumers’ preferences better. Companies monitor and collect the information from each of the customer interactions with their products or services and use that information to build intelligence that leads to:

  • New releases with a higher probability to succeed
  • Fine-tuning bottlenecks in the existing processes like customer support product in their actual environment
  • Informed decisions before delicate and complex procedures
  • Real-life employee training experience in a virtual world
  • Virtual tours of hotel rooms, museums, retail stores and more

AR for CX in focus: Coca Cola Hydr8 - Linking Good Habits with Humanitarian Causes

Coca-cola came up with this fun challenge, wherein it guides the users of its app - ‘Hydr8’ towards healthy hydration habits once they have done some activities. The app uses AR to help them choose the best drink for them based on their movements or the energy they have used up. It allows you to set goals for yourself. Once you attain the goal it gives you a message that says since you did good, we are doing good on your behalf by donating the same amount of fresh water supply to people or society who lack a fresh supply of water. Thus, it improves the customer experience by helping them choose the right drink along with incentivizing them to meet their goals by linking it to a humanitarian cause.

 

4. IoT for CX - Real-time Intelligence and Reduced Customer Response Time:

We are surrounded by devices that have infiltrated our homes, cab rides and office spaces. With activities getting synced across devices such as - mobile, laptop, smart TV or virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Home, it is a treasure-trove of information for the brands to improvise. Certain brands initiate a customer service response even before the problem occurs or the customer knows. Isn’t that intriguing enough? Let’s dive into the details of how IoT can lead to a superlative customer experience. 

Reinvented and Hyper-personalized CX at every touch:

We so naturally start browning multiple apps in our mobile phones, without even realizing that each app, each interface offers personalized views on our screens. It is customized as per our locations (nearby availability), the type of account (premium or standard), offers and ads as per our browsing history, and it goes on.

Similarly, electrical equipment manufacturers are reinventing themselves with smart IoT sensors. These sensors are connected to broadband and transfer data to the company - primarily the customer support teams. Using this information, they offer quick resolutions to customer queries, trigger reminders or custom notifications and enable as-a-service AAS or Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) model offerings. XaaS is the latest trend that has been gaining prominence across a wide array of industries. Under this, the customer pays only for what he uses which eliminates the large upfront investment of owning something and then paying for maintenance.

Customer 360 and Real-time intelligence:

In an age where the customer is spoilt for choices and switching cost is minimal, customer 360 enables brands to offer unmatched customer service and convert them into loyalists. The impact of this data is across every single use case we have discussed so far and IoT is expected to push it much beyond. Here are areas where IoT is proving pivotal in improving CX further:

  • Improving the quality and quantity of the customer information
  • Building self-learning capabilities with the application of AI & ML
  • Monitoring the performance of the products or services in real-time
  • Enhancing efficiency and uptime with Predictive maintenance
  • Doling out improvements with Over-the-Air (OTA) updates

 

5. Cloud-based Solutions for Customer Experience Management:

Well, the last but the most important one is the adoption of cloud platforms and services. It is a building block for every single use case we have discussed so far. Without it the potential of every single technology gets limited. so, moving to a cloud platform that captures all this data and enables stakeholders at every level in the organisation to benefit and contribute towards it. Customer data management has certainly grown complex with omnichannel technologies coming into play.

To succeed and milk the most out of these omnichannel technology initiatives, companies require tying up CX with their long-term business objectives. CX professional need to closely work with the CIO and technology implementation partners. We have helped multiple organisations with migration to leading cloud platforms and delivered the best-fitted business intelligence or data analytics solution.

Leading beverages maker Optimized Sales Data Reporting with Cloud Migration

Delivered 50% reduction in report load and refresh time through migrating to Microsoft Azure and automated reporting with Microsoft Power BI.

 

Conclusion:

Improving Customer Experience requires upfront investment but what doesn’t. But it is guaranteed to start paying off pretty quickly. It is like - training and enabling your employees. The front-line staff interacts with the customer in the best way possible.

The product team comes up with new product ideas that have a higher probability of success. The sales team have insights to increase the average transaction size. Lastly, the business decision-makers across functions and hierarchies can build strategies to go beyond the competition.
 

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