In the era of digital transformation, customer expectations are evolving with the emergence of newer technology domains.
As more and more customers demand hyper personalized services, it is a challenge for organizations to keep pace and deliver unique customer experiences.
A Gartner survey reveals that 52 percent of marketers with customer service responsibilities believe the budget allocated for it will not increase accordingly. CMOs estimate that only 18 percent of their overall marketing budgets are allocated to customer experience (CX) initiatives.
As the race to delight customers gets more competitive, it is vital that businesses decide which critical technologies they should invest in and why. Here’s a crystallized list of five technologies that can have a significant and positive impact on CX in 2019 and beyond.
AI might still be nascent to the world of customer services, but it holds the potential to establish new standards in this domain.
Customers expect organizations to anticipate their needs and deliver personalized solutions without any delay. Hence, companies are now moving away from traditional methods and going the extra-mile to deliver experiences that are unique.
One of the widely used applications of AI is a chatbot. Chatbots engage with customers to provide continuous support across platforms. According to Gartner’s estimates, 25 percent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, up from less than two percent in 2017.
To illustrate, one of India’s leading housing finance companies installed a bot on Facebook to process loan applications. This enables people to apply for loans in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming and on a platform they’re most accustomed to.
Yet another instance is Domino’s Pizza that implemented AI to enhance customer service. Its AI-backed system enables customers to order pies through Facebook Messenger, using only one word, “pizza” or the pizza emoji.
The uniqueness of chatbot technology has also captured the attention of large audit and consulting organizations. Firms are now deploying chatbots for internal and end user queries across B2B and B2C domains.
In the rapidly evolving enterprise tech landscape, there is a continuous stream of data being generated. However, data without context is meaningless. This data, when analysed, can churn out tremendous benefits for customers.
Analytics connects the missing dots and identifies trends and patterns in a customer’s journey. This enables companies to propose qualitative solutions to clients. Nasscom predicts the Indian analytics market will reach a benchmark of USD 16 billion by 2025, contributing 32 percent to the global market.
The predictive capabilities of analytics help in delivering better personalized solutions. For example, in 2017, a private sector bank in India rolled out a platform that provides context related and analytically targeted offers to its customers. But the idea was to go beyond regular offers, and avoid bombarding clients with a slew of irrelevant messaging. Using analytics-based recommendations and real time tracking of transactions, the IT team was able to create highly personalized offers for its customers.
This technology is on the cusp of disruption in the enterprise. With blockchain implementations, brands can directly interact with customers, without the need of a centralized third party. This decentralized approach eradicates scepticism in the mind of the customer, and creates transparency between brands and clients, hence building a foundation of trust.
According to IDC, financial sector will lead global blockchain spending in 2019, with banking, securities and investment services, and insurance industries investing more than USD 1.1 billion. Whereas the manufacturing and resources sector will see the fastest growth in blockchain spending over the 2018-2022 forecast with a five-year CAGR of 77.6 percent.
Stacy Soohoo, research manager for IDC's Customer Insights & Analysis, says, “With a number of breakthroughs in 2018, ranging from mainstream acceptance by large enterprises to regulators recognizing their governance role in the blockchain world, blockchain has come a long way since 2017, the year of blockchain experimentation and awareness. 2019 will be a year of mainstream adoption, but will rely heavily on reshaping the ideology of a blockchain revolution."
Internet of things (IoT)
For customers in search of personalized solutions, could IoT be the Holy Grail? Nasscom predicts IoT revenue in India will reach a benchmark of USD 15 billion by 2020, accounting for 5 percent of the total global market. The report also identifies sectors like utilities, manufacturing, automotive, transportation and logistics as the major adopters of IoT.
According to Gartner, 14.2 billion connected things will be in use in 2019, and the total will reach 25 billion by 2021, producing immense volume of data. Thus, IoT will continue to create new opportunities for enterprises. Be it smart devices, smart homes, smart factories or smart cities – the connected future depends on successful implementation of IoT initiatives.
The intersection of IoT and other emerging tech such as artificial intelligence has tremendous potential for the enterprise. As organizations continue to invest in AI projects, it makes sense to derive value from the amount of data generated from IoT implementations.
Therefore, IT leaders should be prepared to take advantage of IoT along with other digital technologies.
3D Printing (3DP)
3D printing has had an interesting journey. The technology captured the imagination of enterprise with its potential to change the production ecosystem as well as enhance customer experience. Aerospace was one of the early adopters of 3DP.
According to Gartner's estimates, by 2021, 75 percent of new commercial and military aircraft will fly with a 3D-printed engine, airframe and other components.
The biggest lure for the enterprise perhaps lies in 3DP’s capability of reducing complexities involved in manufacturing processes. 3DP is expected to enhance CX for manufacturing and supply chain management. Nearly, 40 percent of manufacturing enterprises will establish 3D printing centers of excellence (COEs) by 2021.
The industrial applications of 3DP are accelerating the growth of metal additive manufacturing market. And this is expected to continue across sectors such as manufacturing, aerospace, automotive and healthcare (for example, in 3D prosthetics).