This past week has seen tech fans descend on CES in Las Vegas, where the latest technological advancements have been unveiled. Eagle-eyed marketers will no doubt have been watching with bated breath to discover the new tech trends most likely to transform the way we communicate, and in turn, new methods of engaging with their customers.
There are of course those leading the way in this space. IBM’s Watson is already using artificial intelligence to create personalised customer engagement for banks around the world, for example. However, for every product with a clear return on investment, there’s a touch-sensitive plank of wood with built-in smart display that comes straight out of the left field…
The question is, with the sheer volume of technology introduced every year, what should your team be investing in to drive ROI and brand advocacy? Here are five tech trends that we think are worth watching in 2019.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
This technology is set to transform customer engagement across all organisations in all sectors. Exactly how far reaching it will be is up for debate – estimates range from 26 billion (Gartner) to 212 billion (IDC) connected devices by 2020. Whichever is right – these are phenomenal numbers, and furthermore, in terms of business opportunities, we’re just scratching the surface. Only 0.06 per cent of all devices that could potentially leverage IoT are doing so, while of the businesses who are using IoT, 94 per cent have already seen a return on their investments.
So, what will this mean for customer-facing professionals? IoT connects companies with digital-savvy consumers in a relevant, contextual and meaningful way by linking up people, processes and things. IoT platforms provide immediate, actionable insights so businesses can respond to customer needs in real time, and also provide behavioural insights which can be used to create superior customer experiences in the future.
By using the data collected from sources like mobile apps, marketers can launch better and more targeted campaigns. In turn, both engagement and brand loyalty are likely to increase.
- Automated financial analysis
Machine learning allows algorithms to mine data, recognise patterns and use natural language processing, resulting in data that showcases significant insights, patterns and relationships. The findings can then support any customer service channel – for example, helping live agents during calls or providing 24/7 engagement through chatbots on digital channels. This increased efficiency should improve the quality of the customer service experience across all sectors.
- Virtual engagement
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) play an integral role in bringing products, solutions and services from digital platforms into the hands of customers. It can enhance the customer journey and buying process by offering consumers a more natural, immersive and connected experience.
For example, many travel agents now offer a try before you fly style service where prospective customers can experience what it’s like to not only visit the area they’re considering, but also get a first-hand feel for the accommodation. It’s this type of game-changing development which transforms the way customers engage with businesses.
It may be hard to believe, but in the last two years alone 90 per cent of the data in the world was created. This vast amount of data provides huge opportunities for marketers to ensure every interaction is as personal and beneficial for the customer as possible. Marketers must go beyond simple details such as age, income, or balances, and show that they really understand their customers by personalising communication to match past purchase behaviour, social interactions and lifestyle preferences. Rather than risking relationships by bombarding customers with a barrage of poorly timed, irrelevant offers and messages, businesses are now able to analyse transaction data, behavioural insights, previous interactions and preferences to better engage with customers when it matters most.
- Cyber security
it’s never been more important that organisations show that they understand their responsibility to protect customers’ sensitive data, as the failure to do so would risk both customers and revenue. As well as ensuring robust data security of their systems, businesses must also ensure that interactions with customers over digital channels are secure and trusted. As a consequence, many financial service companies are bringing in biometric security which uses the unique characteristics of a person, such as voice and retina pattern or fingerprint. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for other sectors to follow suit, where relevant.
These five digital trends have the potential to completely transform customer engagement if implemented thoughtfully. Innovative technology is only worth pursuing if it can provide a true value-add to the end-user and isn’t just a gimmick. To find out more about how technology is set to transform customer engagement in 2019, read our 5 Tech Trends Shaping the Future of Customer Engagement eBook here.