As the capabilities of digital technologies evolve, customers have grown to expect new standards of excellence, performance, and just about everything in between.
In the world of digital, exciting new technologies such as virtual reality, cloud computing, big data, live video connectivity and ‘intelligent’ chatbots are redefining the way businesses connect with their customers.
Staying on top of these developments and trends will involve mastering these new innovations and using them to communicate, engage and promote in innovative ways. Those organizations that are willing to embrace creativity offered by technology and go beyond the ‘norm’ will stand out from competitors and provide customers with a new and richer customer experience.
This article explores 5 of today’s most talked-about technologies to provide insight into their potential to help provide the ultimate customer experience.
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1) VR: Engage & Immerse
Perhaps more than any other current technology, virtual reality has the capability to fundamentally alter how we define a customer experience.
Used by a number of brands to enhance customer experience VR can immerse consumers providing them with new experiences of a product or service. Designed to provide a sensory experience, it captures the attention and imagination of a consumer quite unlike any other technology and marketers with vision are making the most of its uniqueness.
Never one to shy away from innovation in its marketing, Guinness developed a new, consumer-centric using VR tasting booths in Tesco stores across the UK that stimulated all 5 senses. To introduce new beers - the West Indies Porter, Hop House 13 Lager and Guinness Draft - the brand used the expertise of Guinness Master Brewer, Peter Simpson to narrate an immersive 360-degree video while a food and flavour scientist at Oxford University fed into the colours, textures, movements, and sounds used to ensure they were attuned to the flavour of each beer.
“We’ve never stopped innovating around beer, flavor perception and technology. VR is an engaging way to bring the flavor profiles of our beers to life. We hope shoppers appreciate Guinness beers in a new light – and maybe like a beer they wouldn’t have thought to try otherwise.” - Halie Ritterman, Global Digital & Data Lead, Guinness.
2) AI: Interact & Learn
While around since the 50’s, brands have only started to use AI effectively for core consumer services. Evolving all the time, AI has huge potential as it helps improve customer self-service, enhance personalization and cater to individual customer requests and needs in a unique way.
Take the Hilton hotel chain as an example. Keen to make AI a part of their customer experience, the brand worked with IBM to create the hospitality industry’s first Watson-enabled robot concierge, Connie to cater to guests’ queries. Through cognitive reasoning and robotics, the robot provides a unique interaction for consumers and the more she interacts with, the more she learns about how to provide assistance.
While creating a robot may seem like an extreme example of the technology, it demonstrates the potential of AI to provide a customer experience like no other. A technology not to be ignored, it has the potential to interact and learn, making it a useful technology to enhance customer experience.
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3) Chatbots: Enhance Responses
Whether you believe Microsoft’s CEO or not that “bots are the new apps”, the fact remains that these particular tools are turning heads. Featuring an algorithmic ‘learning’ feature which allows it to learn from previous conversations and tweak responses, today's industry-standard chatbot represents an outstanding step forward for brands keen to offload easier, routine queries and encounters to an intelligent system.
Take Adidas as an example of a brand that has nailed how to use this new technology. Through Facebook Messenger and a purpose-built AI bot, Adidas has been able to improve consumer awareness of and engagement with their new community space, Studio LDN. Designed to boost brand engagement, the studio offers a series of weekly free-to-attend fitness sessions for women which can only be registered for through the chatbot.
Using this bot helped reduce the time and effort required to sign up for a workout time at the Studio. Adidas understood that their target market leads a busy, fast-paced life, and developed a powerful intermediary to ensure optimal conversion.
As a result of the campaign, almost 2,000 individuals signed up for Studio LDN in the first 2 weeks, with repeat use sitting at a staggering 80%. With 60% consumer retention at one week, Adidas believes the bot-based booking system has helped expedite an otherwise annoying process and greatly improve vital metrics.
4) Internet of Things (IoT): Multiple Connections
According to research, businesses will be the top adopter of IoT solutions due to the benefits it offers. It can improve a company’s bottom line by lowering operating costs, increasing productivity and helping brands expand into new markets or develop new products.
In addition, the degree to which the IoT allows for cross-platform synergy and engagement has catalyzed the growth of new types of products. Brands can now use this technology to promote direct ties between real world activities and digital communication to deploy promotional campaigns across platforms. It also enables a compelling narrative which allows customers to engage with their product or a service.
Products such as the FitBit are an ideal example of real-world hardware that delivers valuable social capital for users. Because it is it is fundamentally embedded with the internet, it is easy for customers to upload their fitness results to platforms such as Facebook, which, in turn, inspires new audiences to purchase their own FitBit.
Fitness groups, personal training programs and enthusiast clubs have all been developed through Facebook using FitBit as a means of progressing tracking and data transmission. Simply put, FitBit’s embracing of the IoT has led to the creation of a new fitness paradigm online.
5) Programmatic Advertising: Superior targeting
With spending on programmatic advertising on the up brands are investing in using data to ensure the right ad gets to the right person at the right time.
The key to programmatic is that it uses technology and the resulting analytics to help brands understand as much as possible about the person viewing an advert before space is actually bought. In addition as customers access content through multiple devices programmatic enables a customer to be tracked and targeted across them effectively.
An excellent example of programmatic marketing can be found in a recent campaign from The Economist. Taking a provocative approach based on the rationale 'There is nothing more provocative than the truth,' the brand invested heavily in advertising and designed a series of unique, highly targeted ads which were catered to their target demographic - well-educated, middle-class readers.
More than 60 ads were created, most in near real-time highlighting topics such as the CIA's use of torture within hours of the story breaking.
The campaign was rolled out across a variety of platforms, and resulted in:
- Achieving 50% of target in just 9 days
- The ads resulted in over 3.6m new people responding to calls-to-action, sampling The Economist or becoming re-targetable contacts.
- A campaign ROI of over 10:1 was achieved from the initial revenue stream.
For brands, programmatic will only continue to grow for improving customer experience as it is real-time, scalable, cost-effective, efficient and omnichannel.
Knowledge is power when it comes to selling a product or service. These new and constantly evolving technologies can not only help expand an organization’s customer base but also help them gain insight into their customers on a macro-level.
Learning how to make the most of these technologies will help organizations - big and small - enhance customer experience to a level that would never have been thought possible a few years ago.