New technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), virtual assistants, chatbots, and robots, are generally powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), a very powerful transforming customer experience. In this paper, we present a new type of new AI-enabled technology and propose a new framework for understanding the role of new technologies in the customer/shopper journey. Specifically, we discuss the impact and implications of this technology on each broader stage of the shopping journey (pre-sales, transactions, and transactions) and develop new ideas for managing this new AI technology in line with the size of the customer experience to create value for experience. We discuss future research ideas from our framework and explain the different research methods.
In an effort to protect and expand their market share, businesses are now striving to transform their Customer Experience (CX) to meet and exceed increasing consumer demand, as well as to avoid growing challenges from new market disruptors. Businesses have been able to deliver a successful CX platform and see promotions, retention/loyalty, budget, representation, and reduced costs.
Holistic CX, direct and indirect customer interaction is not visible in most businesses. Explaining what we mean by CX about business brings us closer to being able to manage. CX management requires a set and effective metrics for all departments. For example, if an entity wanted to manage their financial performance, a profit and loss report from each department could give management a quick overview of the situation. There is no single framework available if we want to get a quick idea of how different departments work in relation to CX delivery.
Knowing your customer journey
Designing an outstanding CX platform requires businesses to be visible throughout the customer journey and touchpoints. There are limitations that prevent full tracking from happening, some technical, and some systematic. Increased focus on consumer data rights and upcoming regulations requires that businesses need clarity regarding consumer data collection and use. Businesses need to communicate the value gained from this understanding but also empower customers to control their approval and use of their data. Understanding and identifying important moments from a customer perspective is very important and these listening posts should be set when the customer agrees.
CX tracking in all departments must be enabled. As we have said, CX requires a holistic approach, so departments need to seamlessly transfer the data in order to be able to integrate different customer trips under a holistic customer experience. An example of a CX sales map can be seen seamlessly in all marketing – sales – warehouse – finance – delivery – customer support. Spaces in the CX journey can lead to the business operating only on experience rather than operating, the opportunity to lose the real-time adjustment of a particular CX. These real-time ideas can transform a potentially negative feeling into a positive one, sending positive results to both customers and important business insights.
Working on silos
Different departments of organizations often work in silos and lack to get the complete picture of the customer journey. The fragmentation and promotion of departmental responsibilities and the lack of shared information lead to the loss of the opportunity to deliver an integrated product experience supported by the top CX.
In summary, businesses need to deliver a truly unique CX because it requires a holistic approach. So far only the customer-focused platforms have worked to address the CX opportunity – automated marketing, CRM, eCommerce shop fronts. What is needed now is the planning of the entire business ecosystem, previous platforms and traditional ERP platforms. For many businesses, digital transformation continues, the next wave facing businesses will be Experience Transformation.
Central to the framework is a diagnostic tool that provides integrated metrics that form the CX Strategy, which in turn informs the next phase of CX Implementation & Optimization.
- Listen – How well does a business listen to its customers, employees, partners? What critical times are important, do we have all the trips to follow? Are we collecting feedback in a timely manner? What gives us the best understanding so that we can deliver the best experience, NPS, CSAT, CES, ART, FCR, VOC, do we have all the right drivers across the channels and touchpoints?
- Understand – Most businesses have tremendous amounts of data in all of their business units. How well does the business understand what is going on, from a CX perspective? Do they understand what data is good, bad or critical for their business? Is this data and insights accessible across all business units ? What AI / ML / predictive capabilities are being used to design and deliver a better customer experience?
- Act – How successful and effective is the business in delivering its promises? After listening and understanding what the customer wants, what platforms and processes are in place to deliver the action.
- Connected – The key to CX delivery is the ability of the various systems and programs that work in harmony. How well the data and insights been shared across the various departments and units throughout the business?
Top 5 CX Trends
- Artificial Intelligence
Impact on CX:
- The speed and accuracy of AI technology and analytics, in addition to human understanding, will provide the continuous intelligence needed for future customer experience.
AI technology will enhance emotion, voice, communication, IoT and contextual customer experience.
- Instead of attempting high risk initiatives, you should use existing or new systems powered by AI to help make better decisions.
- Virtual Customer Assistants and Chatbots
Impact on CX:
Making the customer experience more human, not less across touchpoints. Role based chatbots and virtual assistants can greatly improve the interaction with employees, customers, and partners, while allowing people to focus on complex tasks and delivering high value to customers.
- Reduce customer effort. Virtual Assistants enable the best customer experience on websites, mobile apps and even in the stores and can be used in many ways to achieve a variety of purposes.
- Omnichannel Customer Engagement
Impact on CX:
- When and where to meet with customers when they want to participate. Customers use multiple channels when communicating with organizations. It will not be easy to bring in a customized customer experience without understanding how customers use them and how they feel about the various channels.
Educating the organization on customer behavior. Improving customer understanding throughout the organization is essential to developing a customer-centered culture. Something like a multichannel customer engagement center can provide one source of truth about customer behavior.
- Real-Time Event-Driven Application Architecture
Impact on CX:
- Provide temporary guidance and assistance to users according to their current status. Basic tasks such as the next best action or location-based recommendations are examples of this. Increasingly application experience is expected to drive all kinds of customer engagement.
Detecting and discovering micro-moments. The digital business monitors event streams so you can stay informed of the current customer context and make smarter decisions. In a competitive market, smarter decisions translate into better customer service and greater business success.
- Listening to business moments and responding to “real-time business” is central to the organization commitment to its customers and ecosystem partners.
- Internet of Things
Impact on CX:
Engage customers anytime and anywhere. Internet devices and locations, supported by smart systems, will provide touch-points for customers on their journey to engage with organizations.
Expect robots to improve slightly and continue to engage in many parts of the business such as sales, health care, hospitality and logistics.
Engaging customers who may not be human. How do you sell to a thing or machine? What will get a machine to buy from you when its decisions are based on algorithms, not emotion? What does “customer experience” even mean for a machine?
Digital technology across customer touchpoints has disrupted their traditional approach to shopping. Excellence in customer experience remains the top priority for businesses to influence their customers and simplify their interactions across touchpoints. 70% of purchase decisions are influenced by customer experience.
7 Techniques That Describe the Future of Customer Experience –
- Smart Stores – Smart stores use digital technology to enhance customer experience and make employees more productive. These stores help customers to make smart and informed decisions by connecting their online profile with the store experience. Technologies like smart shopping cart, Mobile checkout, digital displays, indoor-navigation helps to simplify shopping experience and making deeper connections with shoppers.
- Hyperpersonalization – Customers no longer want generic product recommendations and experiences. Due to the emergence of data technology and customer expectations, many industries recognize the great need for individualized services and experiences, each curated according to individual needs and preferences.
- Smart Assistants – Smart Assistants (such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple Siri) will have the ability to engage in meaningful conversations that move consumer engagement forward. Initially, the use of smart assistants may be more prevalent in the search and discovery. However, with advances in AI technology, as well as in the sales of Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri enabled devices, Smart Assistants can participate in advanced collaborations such as conversational commerce, payment processing, real-time support, or mining with extensive data to answer complex questions.
- Human Interactions Remains Golden – Human interaction is always critical in providing customer support, service delivery or any meaningful conversation with customers at any channel. Digital support will see greater adoption of telepresence technology, enabling support for virtual interactions with customers almost anywhere and whenever they choose. The installation of virtual specialists in critical areas of customer journey can increase customer satisfaction and reliability while minimizing the risk of churn.
- Instant Deliveries – With increasing customer expectations, same day deliveries are critical to many organizations. Customers are impatient to get their online purchased products in hands as soon as possible. Retailers like Amazon and Walmart have already invested in same-day delivery or few hours pick-up from the store. Drones and autonomous vehicles have a great potential to disrupt the fast delivery market and delivery windows can be brought down from a day to an hour or two, especially to fulfill orders in densely populated areas. Ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft or tech companies like Google-Waymo can also play a key role in bringing the shared economy to the fulfillment ecosystem.
- Virtual and Augmented reality – Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology bridges the gap between the physical and digital world by providing an immersive experience. VR / AR will bring the customer closer to the product with a demo and virtual try-ons and simplified digital store-like shopping experiences. Companies like Ikea and Sephora provide AR experiences on smartphones to try their products virtually while sitting at home.
- Application Experience – Customer experience technologies can succeed only if they are complemented by high-performing applications. The right application architecture, technology, and performance monitoring tools help in building complex applications while providing the best performance. They ensure consistent delivery of a superior application experience whether its a mobile app, digital kiosk or a website, which is extremely relevant to providing high-quality customer experiences.
By Piyush Jha, Vice President – Engineering, GlobalLogic India