Time and time again, the strategy that is driving business and seeing some of the most significant returns is personalization. Gartner predicts that e-commerce businesses that personalize successfully could see profits rise by up to 15% by 2020. Apart from the vision, strategy, and talent, you need the right tools; and much like a carpenter is crippled without a hammer, our modern business landscape is growing ever reliant on personalization engines.
The challenge with the customer experience is that it is ever-evolving, and all too often we are seeing the seemingly infinite demands of the customers met with the finite limitations of people. So how can brands meet these demands? When you take into account Gartner’s statement that “By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human,” the answer becomes simple - technology. And there are none that exist that are so perfectly poised to improve nearly every facet of the customer experience like artificial intelligence.
Hi there, it’s me, your customer. The one you spend millions of dollars trying to connect with during the waking hours? Ya, that one. Well, guess what? I am connected. But perhaps the term “connected” is misleading. I prefer to view myself as “empowered.” And if you want to connect with me, you first need to understand what this empowerment is, and I won’t lie, it borders on superpowers!
If millions of years of human evolution have taught us anything, it is that people have always preferred the use of voice to interact. However, for decades it was agreed that the technology “wasn’t quite there yet” to be used with machines. In the interim, nose-to-the-phone model of personal computing became the defacto standard, and no one really questioned it. Things have really begun to change in the past few years as Apple Siri, Amazon Echo, and Google Talk gained momentum and their QoE is a welcome relief.
In the relatively short time that human beings have been on this planet, we have seen a lot of things fall to the wayward and into extinction. In some cases, it was animals like the Dodo bird, the Caspian tiger, or the Baiji dolphin; in others, it was our creations that became outdated like dial-up internet, 8-track cassettes, or what’s even more relevant today, the Single-Channel experience.
Let’s play a game. How many brands do you think I experience in a typical day? Shall we find out?
It’s 6:55 AM and I’m awoken by the sounds of Lovely Day, by Bill Withers. A smile inevitably crosses my face as the tempo rises, that is, until I hear my girlfriend yell, “OK Google, STOP!” She obviously is not a morning person. Still half asleep, I wander into the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee and pour myself a bowl of cereal. As the aroma of the coffee diffuses throughout the house, it peaks the interest of my other half, who joins me for a cup. She mentions that the hardware store is having a sale on the bathroom tiles we liked and maybe “we” should pick some up after work. I tell her I’d be happy to as long as she promises to be ready by 7 PM for the show tonight. She agrees; I'm skeptical.
I love technology; so much so, that I have made a career out of it. I see its potential, and I see it as the answer to many questions and problems that we as a society face. Technology is not meant to complicate our life; rather simplify it, streamline it, and enable us to do more. And it is these experiences with technology that are at the forefront of the consumer's mind, not the complicated mechanisms behind it. It was Steve Matyas, CEO, Staples Canada, who once said “the customer doesn’t care what happens in the background,” and he couldn’t have been more right. Experiences define a brand; not products, services, or the technology that powers them.
Voice command technology has mostly been used in smartphones and computers in recent years, but today it’s becoming increasingly common for voice assistants to be incorporated into virtual and home assistant devices, consumer products, appliances, customer service offerings, e-commerce, and more. In fact, as the technologies required to operate voice assistants continue to improve, so too will it become increasingly common for consumers to expect this level of interaction from the brands they support. Most of us are already using voice commands on their smartphones, and it’s expected that this technology will be installed on over 7.5 billion devices by the year 2021. At the 2018 CES event in Las Vegas, there were numerous new prototypes and products that integrated voice assistant technology, proving that this trend is sticking around for good.
Pursuit of optimal customer experience is driving digital transformation initiatives across all industries because technology is allowing customers to be in direct control of their interactions with us. From the ease of multi-channel digital connectivity to immediacy in service, customers expect frictionless and hyper-personalized experiences that embody simplicity, Do-it-Yourself, and social. Likes of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are also not making it any easier by setting standards that customers expect every business to match.
His name is David…not Tom, not John, and definitely not Donald! He is in his early forties, a technophile, practical in nature, and employed as a Senior Manager. He enjoys buying new gadgets, but being a homebody doesn’t eat out, nor travel for vacations. Yet, his shopping app kept sending him options on where to dine out today and where to take his next vacation.