Customer experience is on the precipice of rapid change. Once viewed as a "nice-to-have", a personalized, always-on customer experience is now considered a key differentiator and growth opportunity across all industries.
The technologies needed to create this personalized experience at scale, such as machine-learning and artificial intelligence, will advance rapidly in the next five years. Pair that with naturally shifting consumer behavior and expectations, and the way businesses and customers interact in 2022 looks very different than it does today.
Companies who act early can lay a foundation for change among executives and teammates, allocate time and resources toward areas that will grow in importance, and stand out from the competitive pack. Take a look at the customer experience strategies analysts predict will rise in importance in the coming years as inspiration to start planning.
1. Sensors and smart devices will collect and act on feedback
Our devices, be they phones, TVs, wearables, you name it, are getting “smarter.” Connected devices collect feedback on the world around them using sensors, then initiate or inform an action based on that data. The ever-growing mountains of data these devices collect provide businesses potentially unlimited ways to understand and influence customer behavior. It’s no surprise that customer interactions initiated by a connected device is expected to increase twentyfold by 2022.
There are numerous ways sensors can benefit both brands and customers. One of example of this is in shipping and logistics, where companies are using sensors to track and alert customers of the whereabouts of packages. Not only does this assure customers their package is en route, it also puts companies in the position to be proactive with support or a special offer if, say, a storm delays shipments or a package becomes damaged. This is just one of the many ways sensors will be used to enhance the customer experience in the future.
2. Chatbots will be your new teammates
Thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence, questions that once only a human could answer can now be answered automatically by a chatbot or virtual customer assistant. These tools will only get smarter in time as they are re-built with machine-learning. In fact, by 2022, it’s expected that the answers chatbots, virtual customer assistants, and search tools surface will be 80 percent accurate.
Chatbots will take a load off of support agents’ shoulders, but the two will continue to work hand-in-hand on just over one-fifth of customer interactions. We’ll see more conversations starting with a chatbot, which is likely to categorize the type of issue and understand the problem, then a human agent will take over to use intuition or complex problem-solving to reach an answer. Ultimately chatbots are a win-win for customer experience; customers get help instantly, and customer support teams have more time and resources to grow the team or solve strategic problems.
3. Knowledge centers aren’t going anywhere
This year marks the first time that more customers will self-service than reach out to a human for a support. This will, in large part, be due to the rise of chatbots, but it’s important to note that our tried-and-true knowledge centers will continue to play a significant role in customer experience strategy (and power the brains of our new bot teammates).
Today as well as tomorrow, frequently asked questions pages, help centers, and other self-service portals will be favored by customers and brands alike. Customers can get their questions answered accurately and on their watch, while support organizations have an ever-growing base of collective knowledge that gets smarter in time. Even when a customer chooses not to self-serve, their first interaction will likely be with a chatbot. And where does a chatbot get the answers to customer questions? That company’s knowledge base, of course. The information added to knowledge bases today will continue to find life whether it’s being accessed by a bot or a customer.
4. Chat and messaging are the new social
Millennials are notorious for ignoring phone calls and opting instead to send quick messages via WhatsApp, WeChat or one of the other six messaging apps among the ten most used apps around the world. These messages aren’t just between friends either. By 2019, more requests for customer support will come in through consumer messaging apps than social media.
Businesses who are on the other side of the screen ready to help will see happier customers for a few reasons. First, messaging apps offer customers an unrestricted communication option. Unlike SMS, messaging apps don’t incur charges, so customers can reach out without the worry that they will be charged for seeking help. Second, messaging apps give customers the option to reach out and solve their issue privately. Having this option decreases the likelihood of public complaints and lets customers exchange sensitive information away from the eyes of social onlookers. Any customer inquiry that comes in the form of the message can also be automatically answered by our new chatbot friends, freeing up agent time for other tasks.