With the start of a new year, you might wonder how customer engagement will change. In the past couple of years, customer experience has been a top priority for companies, as the digital era has ushered in numerous technologies that many brands use to differentiate themselves from their competitors. While creating great customer experiences will remain a primary goal in 2018, the manner in which technology and humans work together to deliver this outcome continues to evolve. Here are the top seven customer engagement trends to look out for this year.
According to Gartner, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020. Indeed, chatbots and virtual assistants will continue to transform customer service. Numerous brands are using messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, WeChat, and Telegram to offer assistance with everything from ordering food to shopping for clothing. However, many brands recognize the fact that chatbots are still being improved and cannot always answer specific questions. For this reason, companies such as Sephora and Everlane make sure that human agents are available for extra support, working with chatbots to deliver optimal service.
While an omnichannel strategy is not a new concept, many brands still struggle to optimize their channels using a consistent approach. According to Marketing Week, 15 years ago the average customer used two touchpoints when making a purchase. Today, he uses an average of nearly six. Therefore, while it’s essential to offer service on multiple channels that customers like, great omnichannel experiences rely on providing quality service at all times on all channels.
More than ever, customers respond positively to brands when they are treated like individuals. This fact makes personalization a must for every company, for both customer service and sales practices. According to Marketing Insider Group, 78% of U.S. internet users claim that their intent to purchase increases when brands provide them with personally relevant content. In addition to using targeted marketing offers, every brand should also humanize each interaction by addressing customers by name and using language that everyone may understand.
Many brands are getting creative by implementing augmented reality in their customer experiences. Companies including Apple, Snapchat, and Facebook are all integrating augmented reality into their platforms, enabling companies to offer their customers a chance to test products before purchase. For example, IKEA is using Apple technology to let customers envision furniture in their homes, while Estée Lauder uses a Facebook Messenger bot to recommend lipstick colors to customers once they upload photos of themselves. While such technology has been around for many years, its potential for customer experience is only now being explored.
Brands strive to save customers time, which is exactly why first contact resolution (FCR) remains a top priority. Customers want a detailed solution to their problem in one interaction, meaning that companies need to ensure a seamless experience across all channels. The Customer Experience Executive Report reveals that FCR is a customer’s #1 priority, as 70% of customers identify it as the most important factor when interacting with a business.
According to Smart Insights, 80% of internet users own a smartphone. With the rise of mobile use, brands will continue to use geolocation tools for better customer service and marketing practices. Specifically, many retail brands such as Target and Lord & Taylor are using beacon technology—a form of Bluetooth—to track customers in real-time and communicate with them in-store by sending personalized content. In addition, airports worldwide—from Hong Kong International to John F. Kennedy and Nice Côte d’Azur—are using the technology to communicate important travel information and promote marketing offers.
While IoT has been a buzzword for some time now, it continues to fuel proactive customer service in unexpected ways. Companies in sectors as diverse as finance, manufacturing, and communications are using technology to make their products smarter and offer proactive solutions before issues even arise. Bosch, for example, is able to fix problems in its washers and dryers remotely, thanks to sensors that communicate such information. Neos, a “connected” home insurance company in the UK, gives customers the most recent connected technology to help them monitor and prevent threats in real-time. IoT is therefore transforming customer engagement in sectors previously unexplored.The technologies that are defining customer engagement are not necessarily new, but brands are integrating them into their strategies in creative ways. As the role of human agents evolves, 2018 will reveal just how companies will balance customers’ need for precise and timesaving service with their desire for a human touch.
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