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Top IT trends in 2018: customer experience

Transform your customer experience or risk being left behind

Joe Manuele, Group Executive, Customer Experience and Workplace Productivity, and Rob Allman, Group Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Collaboration, share their thoughts on the top customer experience trends to watch in the year ahead.

Trend 1: The gap between leaders and laggards is widening

In 2018, we foresee that the gap will widen between those organisations leading the transformation of their customer experience, and those that have fallen behind.

Our 2017 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report reveals that many businesses are facing an ‘uncomfortable truth’ when it comes to the digital transformation of their customer experience.

While the overwhelming majority (89%) of organisations claim that this is critical to their survival and a top strategic priority, over half (51%) of respondents are failing to act.

In 2018, we expect to see massive growth among businesses that are aggressively executing a clear strategy. The outlook is less positive for those with organisational aspiration but poor execution.

Does it have to be a radical overhaul of the business?

It depends on how mature your current digital strategy is. If all you do is answer the phone, and your competitors have an active integrated social, digital, contact centre and physical capability, then you need a more radical transformation.

It’s also important to look for ways to reduce costs, systems, and people. Be aggressive about retiring parts of your legacy capability so you can free up money to invest and enable your digital capability.

Trend 2: Mastering the omnichannel experience remains an ongoing battle

Today, businesses are supporting an average of nine customer contact channels to deliver a multichannel experience. We expect that to rise to 11 in the next six months or so. It’s therefore not surprising that delivering a seamless customer experience across all of these channels is an ongoing struggle for most organisations.

Providing a seamless customer experience means organisations must be able to react to communication that doesn’t fit into their traditional contact centre model. When adopting a mobile-first strategy, businesses also need to consider whether their networks can support an increase in this kind of traffic. These channels need reliable and highly secure network connections.

Another challenge is getting different channels to interact with one another. This is especially true for large, established incumbents that have not broken down operational silos across sales, marketing, and distribution.

On the other hand, disruptive innovators have the benefit of being able to look at their customer experience strategy and supporting operating models as a greenfield, and apply ‘blue sky thinking’. They don’t have incumbent business or channel silos to break down.

Find out how we’re helping Woolworths to create a seamless omnichannel customer experience with our cloud-based Customer Engagement Hub service.

Trend 3: The rise of proactive customer experience – powered by IoT

IoT allows contact centres to gather and analyse data from millions of transactions. We predict this will raise customers’ expectations to unprecedented levels in 2018.

Organisations in the financial services, media and communication, and manufacturing industries are leading the charge, and we expect the trend towards what we call ‘proactive customer experience’ to accelerate.

Intelligent appliances

Bosch have sensors embedded in their washers and dryers. These can alert the service centre when the appliance isn’t performing optimally, and they contact you via your preferred channel to say: ‘We’ve noticed there’s something wrong with your dryer. It’s still under warranty. Would you like us to send someone to fix it?’

In some instances, Bosch can even fix the problem remotely and notify you afterwards.

This is the kind of proactive customer experience we can all start looking forward to as more organisations start embracing IoT.

Trend 4: Machines are becoming partners rather than tools

The ongoing reduction of cost, and growth through digitisation is critical to remaining competitive. Self-service, underpinned by artificial intelligence is becoming the new normal.

In 2018, we expect many organisations to continue looking to reduce the cost burden associated with their physical environments, such as high street offices, contact centres, and the agents who work there.

Another challenge is the increasing number of contact centre channels. Agents are expected to perform more functions, but their tools haven’t evolved and many are complex to use.

That’s not efficient for the business or rewarding for the agents.Our 2017 Customer Experience Benchmarking Report reveals that transaction complexity is contributing to absenteeism levels that are currently double those seen in 1997.

The hybrid workforce

We also predict a shift toward implementing a ‘hybrid workforce’. In a hybrid workforce, people and machines combine strengths and compensate for one another’s limitations, enhancing the customer experience.

We foresee a shift in 2018 towards agents performing higher value, more complex tasks, and increasing their focus on providing assisted service to more digitally primed self-service channel engagements, where required. People and machines will combine their respective strengths and compensate for one another’s limitations, ultimately enhancing the experience of the customer.

This approach is also important in ensuring that organisations are able to maintain a ‘human touch’ and move from the world of providing mass service to mass personalisation. There will be times when a robot simply can’t satisfy a customer.

Automation, artificial intelligence, analytics, and machine learning are some of the biggest channel investments that organisations will be making in the year ahead. But it’s important for businesses to ensure they have the digital infrastructure and strategy in place to support a hybrid workforce.

Trend 5: Location-based mobile customer communication is driving competitive advantage

We predict that increased use of wireless beacon technology will enable organisations to take customer experience to new heights in 2018.

Beacon technology ─ a variation of Bluetooth – enables your mobile device to alert downloaded applications when you move into a certain area.

It’s already being used extensively in the retail sector. It allows stores to track customers in real-time, and then push timely, personalised messages and content to them.

With beacon technology, the network becomes a tool that organisations can use to drive greater customer engagement and create more targeted marketing campaigns. However, to reap the true benefits of beacon technology, businesses need well-architected, stable wireless networks.

There’s potential to use beacon technology in other industries, and we expect to see some interesting use cases emerge over the next 12 months.

Hotels are already looking at using beacons to replace room keys, and airlines are using beacons to improve their interactions with passengers in airports.

It’s also moving into the workplace where it’s improving employee communication and collaboration.

Read more about Dimension Data's 2018 predictions below:

Comments/What do you think?


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