Philip Say, VP of Innovation Product Management at Sutherland Labs makes his CX predictions for 2019.
1. Contextual awareness will redefine the customer experience
As companies show no slowdown in collecting data from consumers, customers are increasingly expecting brands to use this data to create a more personalized, streamlined experience, demanding timely, proactive responses and suggestions.
Providing insights based on a customer’s context and previous activity will become the new normal – and brands are only starting to scratch the surface of what is possible. For example, with the holiday travel season quickly approaching, contextually-aware services could even help customers reach their destination hassle-free. If a customer misplaced his or her luggage, the application could instantly locate and deliver it to the customer’s smartphone location and send an alert once the baggage has been found.
The context of the situation could even “Venmo” money to cover extraneous costs or award the customer 10,000 points to his or her loyalty account, without ever having to speak to an agent. This type of scenario will soon become standard as brands increasingly look to anticipate customer needs and proactively communicate with customers before they request assistance.
2. Chatbot and customer experience (CX) developers will face daunting design challenges
As chatbots and digital assistants become increasingly advanced and human-like, CX professionals will confront new challenges in designing applications that are both efficient and ethical – from creating experiences that are “cool” without being creepy, to prioritizing transparency so customers know they are speaking with a bot. Yet, in parallel, we will start to see more customers become savvy to the understanding that AI is part of life, and adjust their expectations that these technologies will be included in many modern applications.
Live agents will remain very important in the customer experience, but their role will shift as the days of staffing agents to respond on mundane inquiries or questions are diminishing, those actions better handled by a bot. CX professionals will therefore need to think about the cost to serve, not just individual experiences they’ve been asked to design or examine. This is part of a broader convergence between the traditional “support” and “CX” roles – although some think they are entirely distinct disciplines, the two will have to work in tandem in order to fully enhance the customer journey.
3. Voice technology will be a critical product feature, no longer a marketing stunt
In the past year, voice-activated living became a widespread reality, with many consumers quickly becoming conditioned to using voice as an interface for everything from phones to cars, music, lighting and other smart devices. Voice technology has allowed consumers to interact with products in new ways and enhance the quality of their experiences, but to keep up with growing needs, brands will have to adapt and evolve their view of voice as a foundational part of their product or service, not just an exploratory exercise.
In the hospitality industry, we’re starting to see hotels incorporate voice technologies like Alexa and Google Assistant to not only provide a convenience for guests – offering music, wakeup calls and more – but also to provide seamless, transactional end-point services for customer checkout and billing. In this way, companies will start to increasingly design more meaningful, human-centric interactions with voice technology and shift away from a standalone, siloed approach.
About the Author
Philip Say is VP of Innovation Product Management at Sutherland Labs where he works with user experience, design and tech teams to develop new solutions, with particular expertise in bots, AI, UX/CX and streaming analytics. Philip has nearly two decades of software/cloud experience with former roles at VMware, Joyent, SAP, Peoplesoft and Accenture.