The CX Revolution Will Be Personalized – And AI Will Help Lead It

man texting on phone in shopping mall

In 2018, major consumer brands experienced core changes to their businesses that continue to drive the evolution of customer experience. Whether it’s an oral health brand developing connected toothbrush technology or an auto manufacturer delivering mobile technology as much as it does horsepower, consumer expectations are going to continue to advance, challenging brands to keep creating experiences that differentiate.

The Customer of 2020

In just the next two years or less, expect customers to become even more savvy and highly informed about the products they choose and from which brands. Customers will be more informed at every level, operating from superior base of understanding – which means they’ll expect you, your brand, and your representatives to know more, too.

What’s more, the customer of 2020 will be more of an “ecosystem” than individuals, connected to one another like never before and resulting in new and different priorities that need to be addressed. The brands that will be most successful at reaching these customer ecosystems will make an effort to understand each grouping and cater to the various needs represented.

There will be no room for strangers in 2020 and beyond – well-informed customers will want to do business with companies that know them and their needs intimately. They’ll want brands to have a clear understanding of where their needs are headed, and that can design an experience to meet those needs. These customers expect – and will demand – a personalized experience.

So how can brands start to evolve to meet those expectations, ideally sooner rather later? It’s critical to understand that empowered customers in 2020 want more than just customer engagement, they want new levels of customer obsession. They will expect companies to know their business inside and out, and utilize that depth of knowledge to design products and services that create a truly frictionless experience.

To do this, companies will need to engage in more collaborative, consultative relationships with their customers, serving as a trusted advisor and resource for information on individual customer interests and pain points. Brands will need to capture more information, including gathering internal insights as to how their company is operating and where it’s headed in the future. All of this knowledge should then be used to inform business decisions, including product design and development, sales process automation, and customer support throughout their lifecycle.

So now, as we look ahead to 2019, where this evolved customer is just a year away if not sooner, it’s time to examine where your company is investing to meet the changing needs of customers. In 2018, 62% of companies were working to understand individual customer characteristics, and 58% were working towards simplifying their products and processes. But there’s more to address if you want to get to where your customers are headed.

  • Immediate Gratification is Not Fast Enough: Customers will want to do business with companies that are always one step ahead with solutions for tackling problems or issues they hadn’t even thought of yet. They’ll want more than just real-time engagement, too; customers will appreciate futuristic thinking, new knowledge, and insightful solutions beyond just product recommendations. Leverage big data to be proactive towards your customers and offer new information or connections they hadn’t thought of, and utilize knowledge from sophisticated early adopters to guide other customers through the lifecycle. Get creative and specific with your predictive analytics capabilities, and design and implement decision support systems based on customer intelligence, analytics, and subject matter expertise.
  • Customers Call the Shots on Interactions: Looking ahead, customers will expect to interact with brands using their preferred method, whether via email or mobile chat. Already customers expect consistent, informed experiences across any and all available channels, with considerations for their individual preferences as well. There are inevitable complexities to managing different methods of interaction, and the information must be consistent across all channels to meet this customer need. It’s critical to have a presence on each of the potential interaction platforms, and ensure all messaging and information is aligned and consistent across the board. Work to consistently communicate insights across these channels to reach more customers when possible, and develop new ways to connect customers with each other for better shared knowledge.

A Customer Experience Revolution is Happening

Nearly every facet of how we deliver customer experience is expanding with this new focus on personalization, bringing more transparent evidence of value and more precise direction for driving results throughout the enterprise. And artificial intelligence is already a critical component of this revolution, helping evolve how we interact and engage with customers.

  • Instead of just providing recommendations based on algorithms and previous purchases, AI will help us provide real value to the consumer by defining the unique ways in which each customer wants to be helped, as well as which channel to deliver service most effectively.
  • Beyond just reactive commitment to our customers, AI can take us to the next level of proactive commitment. It will help us deliver the Next Best Action for each customer by determining what they want in real-time and provide real interactions – not just notifications.
  • On the business side, AI will take us from standard information delivery to integrated accessibility across the enterprise by delivering real scalability and doing the hard work of repetitive, rote tasks, leaving human employees free to deal with more nuanced, complex issues.
  • As we build these more valuable relationships with our customers, AI will take us to more predictive and prescriptive scalable interactions to help use determine what the customers will want next in the relationship.
  • Survey design becomes a thing of the past as AI will help use develop insight architecture platforms that can automatically find insights and apply data science models to help guide business decisions.

Customer Engagement is Your Biggest Metric

As the relationship between customer spend and engagement becomes more evident, high levels of engagement will be a critical key performance indicator for any strategic customer experience effort. Engagement is based on four factors:

  • Product Usage
  • Sentiment
  • Involvement
  • Competitive Status

Your consumer expectations will continue to become more demanding, which puts pressure on you to create CX that differentiates your brand. As you look to the future of customer engagement, prepare to provide instant gratification, to put the customer in the driver’s seat, and to embrace the power of AI.