Rachel Lane and Michiel Lely look at the 6 most important developments in the relationship between consumers and industry.
1. Service gets smarter
‘Data’ and ‘connectivity’ have long been buzzwords in technology, and this is set to become further embedded in the world of customer service. Real-time queue monitoring informs smarter staff allocation, and connectivity between cards and mobile devices increases, alerting customers to targeted offers based on previous purchases; data and connectivity will inform smarter service.
This is being driven by consumer demand for speed and efficiency when interacting with organisations.
2. Even more channels to contend with
Consumer devices will become more connected than ever before. There will be demand for businesses to support this with what Gartner are calling a “continuous and ambient user experience.”
Which is to say, providing a consumer experience that is not just available across multiple channels and devices, but that moves easily between them. This requires an intelligent use of customer data, with engagement and transparency to temper consumer concerns around privacy and security.
3. App madness and virtual assistants
From smartphones to smart watches, from apps to ApplePay, consumers will increasingly require support for new digital innovations as they continue to come thick and fast. Businesses need to be able to handle the issues and unexpected side effects of these new developments as efficiently as any other customer enquiry.
To support this, we expect to see the growth of ever smarter virtual assistants, joining the ranks of Siri, Cortana and Facebook’s M. It’s all about smarter engagement.
4. The slow death of the password
We can already see this in motion, but a sharp rise in fraud is resulting in a surge in improving security.
However, there is a fine balance to be struck between strengthening security and enhancing the user experience – additional layers of security seldom lead to the speed and efficiency consumers crave.
Across devices, industries and organisations, progress is being made in harnessing the power of voice biometrics and authentication; 2016 will see this become increasingly mainstream.
5. Don’t alienate different generations
The rise of digital is often associated with younger generations. As GenZ (born late 1990s onwards) comes of age in 2016-2020, with their truly habitual affinity with digital concepts, peer-to-peer engagement and online communities, brands need to ensure that they build key advocates in this space.
However, with spending power still set to be largely owned by the established older generations, a single-minded focus on GenZ could potentially alienate a core customer base that may be older – so a careful balance needs to be struck.
6. The oracle of reviews
Organisations everywhere are realising that nobody is better at engaging and supporting customers than other customers. Businesses need to ensure that happy customers contribute their positive feedback, helping to generate further business. To achieve this they need to provide a quick and easy means to do so. Removing barriers and reducing effort is crucial.
One thing we can be certain of is that digitalisation will continue to influence and change how businesses operate. Though we cannot be sure of the specifics, we can get a sense of which direction the wind is blowing.
With thanks to Rachel Lane and Michiel Lely at Verint Systems