How data, mobile and AI will transform customer experience in 2016

In 2016, data will start to come alive

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It’s that time of year again when the nostalgic look back with a wistful sigh and the prognosticators leap at the chance to share exciting predictions about the year ahead. 

Customer experience (CX) has seen some interesting developments in 2015, including the rise of smart watches and mobile payments, but the grass is always greener on the other side of Silicon Valley. 

And with Moore’s Law resuming its steady march toward the Internet of Things, it’s hard not to get excited about the potential of the ever-deepening union of tech and CX.

>See also: 5 ways online retailers can win at customer experience on Black Friday

Here are the top three developments in CX that enterprises will want to pay attention to in 2016.

1. Data will come alive

For years we’ve been hearing that big data will define the future of business, as more transactions and interactions leave data trails that can be analysed to improve business performance. 

But over the next year, the data game will enter a whole new stage, as the gap between data collection and data analysis merges into a real-time feedback loop. 

The result?  More immediate, personalised CX driven by more efficiently run businesses and precisely targeted marketing.

Already, Apple Watch customers can analyse personal data about their heart rate and burnt calories with the push of a button, and their iPhones are tracking their every move through an increasingly precise GPS. 

That GPS data provides users with localised information for their Siri requests or Yelp searches, but what happens when younger Millennials and Gen-Zers also feel free to share their health and fitness data, like they do with their Venmo payments

Will special offers from local restaurants be texted to Apple Watch customers, “rewarding” them the moment they hit their daily fitness goals? 

If those customers have iBeacon enabled, will they be alerted to calorie-conscious savings as they browse the aisles at Whole Foods? 

That’s just one possible scenario.  As more data generated by customers’ actions –both online and off – is collected and analysed by increasingly smart software, the data will be fed back to those customers in new forms, almost immediately, evolving and further refining the CX. 

2. Artificial intelligence will play a larger role in customer engagement

Whatever else one might fault Amazon for, its focus on finding ways to improve CX has always been impressive.  The past summer’s official launch of its new artificially intelligent (AI) tabletop assistant, Amazon Echo, is no exception. 

As smart as Siri, Google Now, and Cortana are – and they learn more every day – it’s the most intelligent cloud-based “personal assistant” I’ve yet seen in a consumer device. 

It can play music, answer questions, control smart-home devices, and help customers make Amazon purchases all through simple voice commands, thanks to its remarkably accurate natural language processing. 

But even Echo – or “Alexa,” as the Amazon AI prefers to be addressed – pales in comparison to the renowned cognitive-computing Jeopardy! champ IBM Watson.

Watson’s ability to quickly process tremendous amounts of unstructured data allow it to search databases for answers to customers’ questions far quickly than human agents ever could. And that makes it an ideal agent for handling many of the inquiries that businesses receive through their websites.

As Watson and other systems like it continue to develop, they’ll begin to replace more of the jobs once held by human customer service agents, such as engaging in live chats with customers online. 

Human agents will still be needed to address more complicated, high-level customer inquiries for the foreseeable future, yet slowly but surely the machines are joining the contact centre team.

In 2016, with AI becoming increasingly conversational and integrated into people’s daily lives, more customer engagements will begin with the words “Siri” or “Hello, Alexa” as their novelty value is finally outstripped by their actual usefulness.

3. Mobile will evolve for an integrated CX

This final prediction may seem obvious but can’t be taken for granted: the increased importance of mobile in the CX hierarchy. 

Nearly half the human race carries a smartphone with them now. And in 2016, mobile experiences will evolve for customers in newly integrated ways.

It’s been over a year since Apple Pay made it possible to pay for in-store purchases with an iPhone, following a few steps behind mobile-payments pioneer Starbucks, but now everyone’s getting in on the m-payments craze. 

>See also: What is 'customer experience mapping' and what can it do for your brand?

Like the rise of Siri and Google Now, it’s simply a natural consequence of businesses realising the tremendous value inherent in customers carrying portable computers with them everywhere they go. 

The smartphone is a digital wallet, an information and entertainment platform, a GPS navigational tool, and all of the main customer engagement channels – voice, text, web, native app, email, social media and video – rolled into one. 

What will kick this into high gear next year is a greater number of companies realising that, because a smartphone includes all engagement channels within it, it’s becoming the primary way to reach and interact with one’s customers. And more businesses will design integrated customer journeys accordingly. 


Sourced from Merijn te Booij, Genesys

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