Why brands and consumers foresee conflicting futures for customer experienceby
A new study has provided insight into what customer experiences will look like in 2030 - and suggests that brands and customers have different outlooks.
When it comes to predicting what customer experience management will look like in 2030, brands and consumers foresee two different futures.
There is a clear disconnect between the technologies consumers expect to be commonplace in the next 10 years and those that brands are developing in a bid to improve the customer experience, research has revealed.
A key issue behind this situation, according to a study entitled ‘Experience 2030: The Future of Customer Experience’, is that customers are much less reluctant to embrace new technology than most brands fear.
A survey of 4,000 individuals across a range of consumer, industry and government sectors in 36 countries conducted by Futurum Research indicated that, while more than three quarters of brands believe consumers are uneasy about using technology in their stores, a mere 35% confirmed this to be the case. Indeed, the vast majority of customers said they expected to be using a wide range of new technologies in a number of different contexts by 2030.
The research, commissioned by SAS, found that around four out of five anticipated that smart assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa would make online purchases for them or control their smart home. The same number likewise believed they would not only engage regularly with chatbots, but also have products delivered to them by either a drone or autonomous vehicle.
Another 78% forecast they would control other devices using wearable technology as well as employ an augmented, virtual or mixed reality app to see how products, such as clothes or furniture, looked either on them or in their home. Around 56% also predicted they would use mixed reality devices to ‘visit’ remote locations or experience entertainment events by as early as 2025.
When asked what ‘futuristic’ technologies brands were investing in today in a bid to boost customer satisfaction tomorrow, meanwhile, top of the list was holographic software for in-store advertising, interactive gaming and public events (83%).
Just over three out of five said they were developing assistants based on natural language processing artificial intelligence software to boost customer support and engagement, while just under three out of five were doing the same to support internal marketing and sales activities.
Will low prices or quality drive future customer loyalty?
A further 54% were also working with augmented and virtual reality tools, with the aim of helping consumers visualise their product or service, while 53% were exploring how to use the technology to enable customer self-help and improve product usage.
Another area in which there is a marked disconnect between the opinions of brands and their consumers though relates to the drivers behind customer loyalty. While most companies cite high quality as the top factor here, the majority of consumers point to low prices or discounts.
By 2030 however, customers say their loyalty will be won by mobile apps and high-speed access being made available to them and also by being able to place orders using smart home systems.
Wilson Raj, global director of SAS customer intelligence, said: “Building loyalty is a critical component for brand growth and, over the next 10 years, we will see increased nuance and complexity beyond the traditional price, quality and service matrix that has long stood at the core of loyalty propositions. In the future, the way companies embrace technology, drive speed to market and consumer, and deliver and measure social impact will all play a bigger role.”
As for the biggest challenge that brands are likely to face, this boils down to trust. For example, while only 54% of consumers trust companies to keep their personal data private, just under three quarters believe how such information is used today is currently ‘out of control’.
Worryingly though, a mere three out of five organisations strongly agree that securing customer data is the single most important factor in enabling a strong customer experience.