We continue to see, every year, how improvements in technology drive innovation across each industry, in various ways. In particular, the customer experience continues to be very affected by developments in tech tools and processes.
Business owners must stay up to date on advances and trends if they want to grow their organizations, cut costs, and stay relevant. Read on for some of the key ways technology is changing the customer experience in 2018, and beyond.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
The unimagined success of Pokémon Go in 2017 demonstrated that consumers are interested in augmented reality (AR) and, by association, virtual reality (VR). The Pokémon app was earning millions of dollars daily at the height of its popularity and showed businesses around the globe that people are ready for such interactive experiences. As such, the customer experience will soon be melded more and more by the world of AR and VR.
Whether it comes via marketing advertisements that are more interactive than ever, or through apps like Pokémon Go, or games, or various other methods, AR and VR can make users feel like they are being more directly interacted with, and give them a better understanding of what they’re about to buy or the selection they can choose from.
The tech can be used to provide more personalized and customized experiences for customers, even when a great geographic divide separates them from company staff members. Plus, it can be used as a powerful tool by retailers, who can give shoppers a feel for wares not currently in store, and what they might see, hear, touch, or even smell when they use products.
It can also provide experiences for consumers who aren’t in a store at all. AR and VR can simulate things people need more information about. For example, companies are already using augmented reality to give diners a better indication of what menu items will be like; how different makeup products will look when worn; and how magazines can be interactive, via projected 3D images and recordings.
There is also scope for things like choosing airplane seats based on three-dimensional views instead of one-dimensional ones; understanding what healthcare machine procedures will be like ahead of time and taking part in online training programs that come to life and are easier to follow through AR and VR. People will soon be able to explore alternate worlds and realities together, too, in a way that companies can use to their advantage when they design, promote, and provide service for products.
Of course, artificial intelligence (AI) is another area where technology is really changing the customer-service and interaction game. For example, online chatbots are increasingly being used to help shoppers connected digitally with brands. Soon enough, too, the bots will be able to converse even more naturally with consumers, and solve their problems sooner, and understand conversation context better.
AI is also being used to help make predictions, about everything from product sales and inventory management to customer health and more. It can also be utilized to handle meeting requests and document creation, which leads to time savings for businesses and customers in turn; and it’s helpful in the area of sales, where computers can automatically handle scheduling, the compilation of data-driven insights, and customer follow-ups.
Artificial intelligence is also set to shake up the Internet of Things, as Internet-enabled devices get better at learning the patterns and preferences of users, and shrink in size to become more suited for personal wear. The fast-food industry is changing because of AI too; we’re currently seeing significant growth in self-service food kiosks around the globe.
Lastly, because consumers have access to more information than ever before, their expectations about customer service are rising dramatically. Today, shoppers expect their complaints to be addressed and needs met more and more quickly. There’s no more patience for companies who get back to people within a few days; instead, people want answers or information straight away. Social media has, in particular, been a big part of this trend.
The next development that stems from this is instant service and delivery. We’ve seen firms like Walmart and Amazon investing huge amounts of money in programs to enable same-day delivery and rapid customer service response, and shoppers are enjoying this, and getting used to it. This means other, smaller companies, will need to follow suit as the kinds of technology programs which handle on-the-spot responses lower in price.
Consider, too, businesses which send team members out in the field to interact with customers directly. They now require enterprise Wi-Fi to handle consumer expectations. For example, employees need access to mobility management tools so they can get up-to-date, real-time information straight away, and pass it along to customers. Workers can research and order goods for people then and there; find out about availability and any manufacturing or delivery wait times; invoice customers and take payments; and more, all while standing in front of a client.