The concept of the customer journey has fundamentally changed and with it, the rules of engagement. A new form of customer engagement has emerged and fundamental shifts are under way in how businesses are engaging with connected customers and prospects. It’s more than just an interesting shift. Keeping on top of megatrends can help you prioritize projects and budgets to support the demands of next-gen customer experience.
What’s a Customer Experience Megatrend?
Trends are emerging patterns of change that are likely to impact us, while a megatrend is a large change driven by many factors, and it’s slow to form. Once in place, megatrends influence a wide range of activities, processes, systems and perceptions—possibly for decades. They are the underlying forces that drive trends and impact customers and companies alike.
Here are three megatrends that have been a long time coming, and they are directly impacting customer experience:
1. Digital Transformation
Digital transformation has been trending for years. We’ve all experienced the digitalization of banking and retail shopping. Digital interactions account for 92% of all interactions with web, mobile, and social becoming top channel choices, according to the 2016 Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report.
Until recently, immature technology and outdated business models limited true digital transformation. Recent breakthroughs in omnichannel routing, for example, have eliminated the slowdowns of queue-based routing. Digital transformation as a megatrend has several facets:
- Growth in messaging channels that go beyond text messaging, such as WeChat outside the company. According to Dimension Data, the number of channels will rise to 11 by 2018. In 2017, the top five channel focus areas will be virtual assistants (chatbots), instant messaging, mobile apps, video chat, and the number of enterprises that will embrace Internet of Things (IoT) is set to double.
- Multimodality or self-serving on multiple channels at the same time, is enriching the presentation of information in one channel with assistance from another, giving customers a single personalized interaction. For example, a customer on a mobile device can engage simultaneously over a multitude of synchronized channels and touchpoints, including chat, video, text, websites, IVRs, and mobile apps, all within a single, personalized interaction. This is fast becoming the new normal.
- Video and Augmented Reality. Still emerging in many industries, it has taken hold in healthcare and personal banking. Its power is in bringing contact center data to life by analyzing and understanding it in a way that’s not possible with 2D spreadsheets and dashboards. In addition, features like co-browsing and AR floorwalker solutions are changing the way we work and the way we work with each other.
- The Uberization of the Contact Center. Its moving fast as businesses take on increasing numbers of freelance services and staff. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, freelancers and temp workers comprise almost 15% of the workforce. Consequently, these non-traditional relationships create complex ecosystems of data. And to access, analyze, and manage that data requires virtual contact center solutions that can provide real-time feedback and insights about the customer. By feeding that information back into the company systems and processes, businesses deliver on-demand customer experience.
With major advances in automation technology, simple requests will be done via self-service. And voice will continue as a critical point of escalation. In fact, automation is turning speech into the new currency for consumers with the growth of smart assistants. Chatbots have become a cost-effective complement to what’s in place today. They manage simple interactions and allow agents to step in at the right time to add a human touch.
The best chatbots stand out for their image, speech, and emotion recognition that operationalizes it. For example, many chatbots only respond to requests and questions, but also recognize when the customer is confused. At that point, they seamlessly hand off the conversation to a live customer support rep.
3. Predictive Everything
The Internet of Things (IoT), or digitalization of assets, is a balancing act today between focusing on internal and external use cases. In 2016, most businesses focused on internal initiatives. They started with simple use cases such as optimizing internal workflow management, and enabling smart connected products to send data to the enterprise. This is changing already with more externally focused use cases around customer engagement and retention.
IoT opens completely new business opportunities in utility companies. This industry is rapidly moving beyond capturing operational efficiencies to more directly enable strategic digital transformation, as they become platform providers for the energy-sharing economy.
Car manufacturers already capture data for predictive maintenance. Now they are exploring a completely new business model of engagement. This model moves from the sale of cars to business provisioning. As a result, it will eliminate the car sale as the terminal stage of the customer journey. Full lifecycle servicing of customers requires robust omnichannel capabilities to get that contextual insight into customers.
The First Step in IoT Transformation
As businesses examine where to focus resources on IoT development, it’s important to address key issues of architecture, integration, and security. But the opportunities are worth it.
Unlike trends that may come and go, megatrends are the way of the future. While they introduce disruption to businesses, they also open doors. They can engage digital consumers, engage the digital employee, and optimize digital business for the best customer experience possible.
View the on-demand webinar, The Uncomfortable Truth About the State of Customer Experience Transformation for a deeper look at the 2017 Dimension Data Benchmarking Report.