Customers have always called the shots, but today they are more empowered than ever. They can choose how and where they want to engage with brands when they buy products or services. As we move into 2017, businesses that understand what their customers need and want — and are able to deliver against that expectation — will win.

Here are three critical elements that will feature in your data-driven journey into 2017.

1. Making the Move from Personalisation to Individualisation

“Individualisation is achieved when customer intention is anticipated, understood, and actioned in the moment,” says Krisi Mansfield, CX Strategy & Transformation Director, Oracle APAC (See clip below).

This means giving the customer the experience they want and desire — to a segment of one. This has been talked about for some time, but true individualisation occurs at a level of Customer Experience (CX) maturity that very few organisations have been able to achieve.

To create individualised experiences, CX Leaders must:

  • Structure experiences around customer journeys CX Leaders need to identify the journeys their customers take, the data that indicates a customer is on a given journey, and the content and functionality they need to move closer to their goal.
  • Ask how customer data can inform each interaction Don’t start individualisation efforts by trying to come up with uses for available customer data. CX Leaders should start by asking how a specific interaction can be individualised for the customer. After articulating how the interaction can be improved, ask what customer data is required to make it happen.
  • Get agile Individualised experiences are an emerging category of experiences. As a result, best practices and design patterns are still being defined. This means that CX Leaders interested in creating individualised experiences need to take an agile approach that focuses on rapid prototyping, failing fast, and quick release cycles rather than strung-out processes.

2. Unlocking the Value of Internet of Things

With every human expected to own some 20 or more connected devices by the year 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) is one phenomenon brands can’t afford to ignore.

Market analyst firm Forrester argues that, while everyone knows that great customer experiences lie at the heart of digital business, what’s less understood is the connection between great customer experiences and operational excellence. Simply put, IoT brings speed to operations and processes that, ultimately, lead to a better customer experience.

On the flip side of the same coin, where we will soon have trillions of connected devices, we should also explore how the information from these IoT devices will allow CX pros to better understand how customers interact with different platforms and channels by directly tapping into data from the devices they are interacting with. These insights are reframing the way we do business, from reactive to proactive and predictive, and are increasingly changing how consumers behave and what they expect.

3. Chatbots to Become a Major Part of CX by 2020

OK, so now we leap from 2017 to 2020 with this prediction.

A recent Oracle report found that Artificial intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) are set to reshape customer experiences by 2020. More than three quarters (78 per cent) of brands say they have already implemented, or are planning to implement, AI and VR by 2020 to better serve customers.

When it comes to chatbots — one of the most recognisable forms of AI — 80 per cent of sales and marketing leaders say they already use these in their CX technologies or plan to do so by 2020.

Consumers and B2B decision-makers want relevant content at the right time — that is the promise of AI which, in turn, is powered by data. Whether it’s an AI chatbot or a social community manager acting on behalf of the brand, the customer data profile that is being drawn on to inform customer interactions must be complete and accurate. With information on a customer’s previous purchases, recent service issues, social media interactions, and preferred channels for interaction, a brand is better prepared to serve them.

2017 is going to be an exciting, change-filled year. To succeed in this CX-obsessed world, companies must get closer to their customers and put in place the right processes to empower data and analytic driven decisions. In the end, the companies that show a deep understanding of their customers will be set to win the CX race.

About the Author

Brian Donn leads the APAC CX group at Oracle which is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Member provides their research and insights for the benefit of our readers. Member fees apply.

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