Opinion: Five customer experience trends for 2017

marketing business success

By Dinesh Jebamani Customer experience may have become a buzzword for marketers, but it also holds great significance for developers, and designers, as building customer-centric interfaces and apps is now a necessity. In 2016, we saw many businesses strive to make their customer experiences richer and better, and in 2017 we will see this effort intensify. Here are five customer experience trends that will dominate business in 2017: 1. VOC enjoys new research tools Most businesses agree that it is important to know their customers better, and many use “voice of the customer” (VoC) research to address this goal. No longer limited to simply collecting customer feedback, VOC involves gaining expertise through multiple research and evaluation tools. Siloed research done using well-known tools is no longer effective. A more complex and detailed approach to hearing customers across regions and categories requires more expertise than the usual mundane tools. 2. Conversational experience via chatbots Chatbots are no longer a high-tech fad. Many brands have already incorporated conversation into their customer experience through the use of intuitive, contextual chatbots.
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By mastering the art of machine-led conversations, brands can offer richer real-time communication in place of other, less effective communication channels. Particularly for users adapted to the digital world of apps and gadgets, conversations with chatbots have become the new approach to communication. In 2017 we can expect to see more intuitive and intelligent chatbots enriching the customer experience with real-time conversation. 3. Customer-centric advertising Most users these days block online ads—in fact, nearly 70 million Americans use ad-blockers to avoid seeing irrelevant and unwanted content. If your business runs online ad campaigns, it is time to rethink your strategy as the effectiveness of this approach is likely to diminish in the coming year. A good strategy is to enrich your ads with more contextual, personalized, and intent-driven content. Provide your customers with content they want to see, when they want (or need) to see it. 4. Virtual assistants According to a recent report by Gartner, by 2020, more than 30% of online browsing will be done through voice. Virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri will be used extensively by mobile browsers. 2017 could be the year use of these tools takes off as more marketers tap their power. Improved speech recognition technology will also help challenges such as interpreting accents, which improves the customer experience. 5. Machine learning Machine learning that delivers personalized data based on our digital interactions and preferences over time is no longer something out of science fiction. In fact, many examples of this already exist in our day-to-day digital interactions. For example, both Google Search and YouTube learn from our searches and offer results based on recent searches, and retailers are preparing to use machine learning to take orders and sell goods. But machine learning technology is just getting started. In 2017, we will see more companies use intuitive machines to gather customer data and process business requests accordingly. New technology will continue to improve and enrich the customer experience for all brands, but the greatest focus will be on personalisation and customer-centricity. By catering to customer intents, contexts, and user moments, companies will hold more meaningful business conversions. Needless to say, mobile devices will play a crucial role at the center of these approaches. (– Dinesh Jebamani is in retail banking, product/brand management and passionate about social and digital media marketing/channels. His blog can be accessed here –)
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