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7min543

Each year, analysts predict trends that will determine the course of the advertising, media, and digital industry in the near future.

Year after year, we see the same predictions about the importance of video content, new approaches to SEO optimisation, growth of mobile internet penetration, and related advertising tools. However, it seems that a lot is going to change in 2019. So let’s take a closer look at the new revolutionary solutions and approaches that are going to shake the market this year.

1. Personalised marketing

Personalisation is a key trend in many business areas. The idea of ​​delivering a personal message to the client, taking into account the characteristics of his or her behaviour, personality, and sociography is not new. However, such an approach becomes a reality thanks to the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Even if a person uses hidemyass, it will be still possible to track his online actions.

The love of marketers for digital is largely due to the possibilities of fine-tuning the targeting for advertising, but now more advanced personality recognition mechanisms are being tested. Thus, Amazon uses AI-based solutions that combine user data from various sources, such as transaction archives, trending sales, competitor information, CRM data, and information from social accounts. At the latter point, the machine predicts the desires and capabilities of the user. As a result, a company is able to formulate and prepare a 100 percent personalised offer, which will hardly be refused.

2. Voice services

There are some technologies that burst into our lives suddenly. Voice assistants are one of them. At first, users limited themselves to comic dialogues with smartphones; with time, they began using voice assistants for their intended purpose. Siri, Google Now, Alice, Amazon Alexa, Cortana, and others teach users to use the voice dialogues with the software. Markets are saturated with Voice Search Tools, Amazon Echo, Google Home, and others.

According to NPD Group, by the end of 2019, sales of ‘smart speakers’ will grow by 50 percent, and the market volume will reach $2.7 billion. This technology is in the trend of marketing integration with services and applications for delivering food, calling a cab, searching for the right locations, and other things. Just like vpn services were popular a few years ago, voice assistants are on the peak now.

3. Communication automation & chatbots

According to Gartner, 85 percent of user interactions with companies will occur without human participation by 2020. Nowadays, many companies use chatbots in social networks and instant messengers to simply communicate with their audience. In the future, scripts will become more complex, and the bot will be able to imitate a live seller or manager, saving companies’ resources.

4. Augmented reality (AR)

According to the estimates of the Harvard Business Review, global investments in the development of the AR sector will exceed $ 60 billion by 2020. The research centre MarketsandMarkets states that market growth will exceed 75 percent over the next five years. In 2022, it can reach an estimate of $120 billion.

The largest technology brands have seized upon this promising technology because it is extremely interesting to the end user and does not force it to acquire new products. Everything works on your favourite smartphone. AR is used in education, medicine, and, of course, marketing solutions, especially in a retail segment. The investment volumes are impressive, and we will see a lot of interesting consumer variations using augmented reality in the coming year.

5. 5G

Standards for deploying fifth-generation mobile networks are still in development, but individual elements are being tested by operators around the world. 5G networks will create new opportunities for users, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as broadband media services and real-time communication in areas of natural disasters or mass events.

Final Say

According to many experts, we are now entering the era of digital technology, which will mostly depend on the introduction and development of artificial intelligence (machine learning) and all the consequences associated with it. The incredible development of the digital environment over the past ten years (social media, improved search technologies, the AppStore, and PlayMarket, cybersecurity, streaming video, etc) will not slow down, but go to a new level.

In 2019, marketers will need to prepare for constant experimentation with new technologies. Only a continuous stream of testing new ideas will allow you to be on the success wave.


David RosenDavid RosenMay 7, 2019
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8min711

Anyone who has booked a flight recently will have likely noticed the level of personalisation creeping into their travel experience.

Even before you’ve settled on timing or your destination, airlines are tapping into your intent, with some shrewd speculative interventions.

For example, if you have ‘liked’ a resort on Instagram or Facebook, you may find yourself targeted by an app that provides all the options for getting there, followed by itinerary recommendations via TripAdvisor. It seems all the main players in the travel ecosystem suddenly ‘get’ you and are able to anticipate your plans and preferences.

Advanced analytics that can glean deeper actionable insights from customer data are fuelling this transformation, compounded by greater industry-wide collaboration, and improved sharing of this intelligence. The result is more relevant products and services which have raised the bar of personalisation, along with the expectation that the personal touch shouldn’t stop when we book our travel plans.

If we stay in the realm of travel, we can see how this extends to the hotel sector. For an industry outside of the high-end luxury segment that has taken a one-size-fits-all mentality, it poses an interesting challenge.

This shift is set to disrupt some of the familiar routines that have long been part and parcel of the hotel experience. Think of the multiple adjustments that we make to a room on arrival almost on autopilot – the swift rejection of the wrong pillows and hair products that don’t fit our unique preferences, the trial and error that goes into resetting temperature, often with limited success.

It’s a routine on the cusp of being rendered entirely redundant if data collected prior to arrival based on previous stays can inform the housekeeping team of a preference for non-allergenic bedding or a particular branded hair product.

Behind the scenes, data platforms are doing the heavy lifting, with advanced analytic algorithms that combine customers’ historical engagement data, purchase history, digital behaviours, and environmental data. Predictive analytics then inform the kind of contextually-rich engagements that add value, ramp up the convenience and comfort factor, and provide a meaningful connection that can differentiate an experience in a saturated market.

And it needs to; customer expectations have changed irreparably!

Digitally-empowered and more discerning, consumers no longer fall into the crude categories based on gender, age, or marital status that were once used to determine rudimentary personalisation. In short, they know what they like and what they don’t; who they are and who they’re not. Today’s consumers expect to be treated as individuals rather than a segment, and with intelligence, relevance and empathy.

Yet there is still a fine balance to negotiate to ensure that such intervention remains engaging rather than intrusive and creepy – a trend often rooted in data overload and a heavy-handed approach to its personalisation. 

Without question, we’re in a world of big data, where gathering ever-rising volumes and the ‘more-the-merrier’ ethos, can be the default approach to throw at any issue, sometimes at the expense of consumer consent, internal ability to act on the data, and ethical practice to how the data is applied.

Many organisations are struggling to manage the data they hold. Common challenges include navigating through too much data, managing the complexity of data, determining which data are appropriate for decision making, and upholding the security of data in an increasingly dangerous world of identity theft and fraud.

Nowhere is this more challenging than in financial services, where major decisions of credit worthiness, loan pricing, and customer service are increasingly based on analytics from integrated, intelligent data platforms; and where sensitive data must be protected from fraud and other cybercrimes. No wonder regulators are also balancing the need to protect personal data from both discriminatory decision making (e.g. the use of gender in insurance pricing models) and the rules for data protection.

It’s a reminder of the need for big data to become ‘impactful’ data, in order to cut through the excess and address the data basics; clean it and make it available to run in advance analytics platforms. Injecting a big dose of transparency into the process, by taking the cue from the customer in terms of the financial information they are comfortable sharing, is the next consideration. While this might be a slower burn approach, it is one that is fundamental to developing and instilling the requisite levels of trust.

Crucially, a common dominator of all this activity is the investment in time and commitment. Personalisation by its nature is not a quick fix; it demands innovation on multiple fronts if is to be applied successfully. Furthermore, technology cannot thrive in isolation and must be supported by a broader cultural shift that sees all staff committed to the process.

Returning to the hospitality sector, it is notable how many of the intuitive service touches depend on both the observations and initiative from front line, customer facing teams who are best placed to notice the small details and act on them directly with the guests. Ensuring they understand how their actions can resonate and be informed by the technology to build on this further, is a crucial piece of the jigsaw.

Being mindful of the pitfalls, while being open to embracing the innovation at our disposal, is a tightrope to negotiate, but once achieved can deliver the CX breakthrough on everyone’s wish list.


Ryan FalkenbergRyan FalkenbergMay 7, 2019
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6min529

Ask the leadership of any reasonably-sized company what technology they’re looking to implement and they’ll almost invariably mention artificial intelligence (AI).

In theory, that’s great, because AI has the potential to fundamentally change the way a businesses operates and creates a great Customer Experience. The longer the business uses an AI application, the better the experience should get. Given enough time, the system can collect enough data on each individual customer to provide meaningful, hyper-personalised experiences.

Implemented badly, however, AI can be a total disaster. Rather than feeling like the business they’re dealing with cares about them, they’re left with the impression that customer service has been handed over to a bunch of dimwitted machines.

Let’s talk about chatbots

The easiest way to illustrate how varied the AI experience can be is to look at chatbots. They’re the kind of front-facing AI that more companies are using and which an increasingly large body of customers are familiar with. Trouble is, most companies are terrible at implementing chatbots.

Apart from a few forward-thinking exceptions, companies tend to put a chatbot on their website in the hope that that it will learn from each interaction it has with a customer and that its answers will become more nuanced over time. They also operate in the belief that customers will tell the chatbot when it’s wrong, helping to train it further (hands up if you’ve ever done this willingly).

That would be great…if the chatbot was actually equipped to do so. However, for the most part, chatbots are simply going through the company’s existing knowledge bases and serving you with a document (or, in the worst cases, multiple documents) to try and help. It’s essentially a slightly smarter form of search.

As anyone who’s tried to use the search function on a corporate website will tell you – that’s not particularly helpful, especially when you’ve got a specific query. Let’s say that I want to know if I can insure my sunglasses. I don’t want to have to scour through insurance agency documents to try and figure out the answer. I just want the answer.

Contextual, hyper-personalised, relevant

As long as chatbots rely on a flawed architecture that depends on the existence of relevant documents containing the needed information, they won’t be able to provide that answer.

If you’re going to use AI to improve CX, you need to take a different approach. If you want to operate in the digital era and want to drive logic through data then you need to start it in data. That means looking beyond your existing documentation and CX architecture and integrating insight into customer behaviour across digital and offline channels.

This approach will, ultimately, allow you to offer customer support that is hyper-personalised, relevant, and compliant.

A chatbot built on this kind of framework understands what you’re asking and can answer specific questions according to what you actually need. While that’s just one small part of CX, anyone who’s cursed a company for failing to provide useful information, will know how important it is.

The aim of AI

That said, this approach shouldn’t be limited to chatbots. Consistency – in style, tone, and content – is one of the most important factors in successful CX.

It’s therefore imperative that any organisation turning to AI to improve CX apply a data-first architecture across every customer-facing channel. So, whether I make a query using a chatbot, the search function on a website, or a call centre, I should get the same – relevant – answer.

However, if this is going to happen, businesses need to stop trying to bolt AI onto their existing architectures and take an approach that allows it to reach its full potential.

 


Andrea WilliamsAndrea WilliamsMarch 22, 2019
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9min727

If you’re reading Customer Experience Magazine, then you’ll be aware that CX is a much talked-about business concept.

According to Forrester, it can be defined as “how customers perceive their interactions with your company”.

This is a concept with a very long history – it’s just never had a catchy name before. Customer Experience has had different forms, as it’s been influenced by technology and the prevalent customer preferences of each generation and era over time.

It’s hard to pinpoint where it all started. We know that on January 1, 1876, the red triangle of Bass Ale became the UK’s first official trademark. While businesses had been marking their products to show origin since time immemorial, the modern understanding of branding was arguably born alongside that first trademark. Even back in the 1800s, the idea of branding was an implicit recognition that the customer was on some sort of journey of research and discovery before making a purchase.

Let’s travel back in time and explore the transformations that shaped CX…

Everyone knows your name

The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, once said: “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts.” It’s an analogy that works as well today as it did in the past. It’s up to the host to be gracious and make guests comfortable.

Back in the 50s, there was no “customer experience”. No fancy business lingo – just service. This was the age of genuine, low-tech personalisation. Business owners chatted with customers and remembered preferences.

Have you ever watched the hit TV show Mad Men? If so, you know that when housewife Betty Draper wanted to go out shopping, she got the royal treatment. Salespeople remembered her, greeting her by name, inquiring about her family and making tailored product suggestions.

Indeed, the shopping experience of the 50s was familiar and comforting. That’s because it was a social experience; as a customer, you likely got to know the owners and employees of companies you interacted with on a personal level.

Don’t get too nostalgic, though. It gets even better…

You can shop on ‘The Internet’

Today we don’t even think twice about “going online”, but back in the early 90s it was a big deal! In this era the internet became commercialised; Amazon started selling books online and Pierre Omidyar founded eBay.

 This decade was characterised by excitement (perhaps with the exception of the Dot Com bust, which wasn’t as amusing). Online shopping made it possible to buy goods at any time, regardless of ‘store hours’, without even leaving the house. Ecommerce also brought with it the opportunity to order far more than what one could find on a store’s shelves.

On the other hand, the focus on service didn’t seem as important.

Because these technological developments were so new and intriguing, the loss of that special personal touch went unnoticed. Web ‘pages’, as they were called back then, were barely functional, much less optimised for the user’s enjoyment. It would take a while for the notion of ‘user-friendliness’ to gain traction. Yet even though there was no personalisation, there were cool new things to click.

After all, you don’t expect the royal treatment when you’re an adventurer heading off into the unknown – which is how people felt venturing to buy via personal computers.

Tech that ‘gets you’

Today we take all the convenience of technology for granted. In fact, we’re likely to get upset when things don’t work instantaneously and seamlessly (“This web page is taking more than five seconds to load…I’m outta here!”).

Yet we’ve also missed being remembered by companies; being treated with special care. That’s where modern Customer Experience enters the scene. Research from Salesforce estimates that 75 percent of people now expect a consistent experience wherever they engage with brands – be it through social media, mobile, or even in person.

CX has become all about providing both intuitive technology and automated personalisation capable of remembering preferences, making recommendations and offering help.

 Customer Experience has essentially come full-circle: it started out as an emotional experience, transformed into a display of ‘cool’ technology, and now it’s back to being people-focused. The question modern companies are asking is: “How do we apply all the tech at our disposal to delight the customer?”

Businesses want to forge personal relationships with customers again – albeit in the digital space. Business consultancy Walker suggests that by 2020, CX will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. No wonder everyone’s talking about it.

Must everything change?

While technology has raced ahead, people have remained relatively unchanged. No matter how much time passes, the customer still desires to feel special and valued. Making them feel like they got away with a great deal is never going to get old.

We may have moved past the quaint days when shop owners greeted us by name, but when we get the sense a company sees us as just a number, we’re quick to take our business elsewhere. Today we enjoy the best of all worlds: the customer comes first, and businesses have the technology to craft remarkable experiences. With the rise of omnichannel – another one of those hot buzzwords – service expectations have increased. Modern customers fully expect the royal treatment, anytime, anywhere.

What’s next? New experiences that fully merge physical spaces with digital tech. Future CX-obsessed companies will ensure the customer journey is always on and responsive to a customer’s location and overall context.

Told you it gets better!




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