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“Life moves pretty fast.”
No kidding, Ferris. Change is flying at us faster than ever. And, nowhere is it more present than in the customer experience industry where the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and ever more fickle consumers push brands to transform the service they deliver.
At this time of year, a host of pundits pause to take stock of recent technology developments and ponder the future. We’re not about to miss out on the fun — so without further ado, here are our top five customer experience predictions for 2019 and the next three to five years.
1. Outcomes Matter
We will see a significant change in sales and marketing organizations in 2019 as consumers continue to demand right-time, right-offer, right-channel and right-resource messaging. Businesses will increasingly adopt software solutions infused with AI and machine learning to deliver smarter real-time engagement and produce targeted business outcomes. Consumers and suppliers are also transitioning into a post-SLA (Service Level Agreement) world where results are what is most important, and commercial models will follow this trend. Businesses will restructure their IT contracts to borrow from the adtech model, adopting outcome-based, price-for-performance contracts. They will also move away from building on top of and customizing vendor software, and toward full-stack solutions that provide ready-to-use functionality.
2. Convergence and Amplification
Nearly all AI applications on the market are point solutions that solve only a specific business problem. Today, integrating these disparate AI data models can be a complicated, costly undertaking. Business leaders will need to converge data models quickly to deliver the next generation experience that consists of one customer view and an orchestrated journey. Machine learning will be used to analyze, extract and amplify previously hard-to-detect customer data correlations sourced from multiple AI platforms. Soon, open source data models will become the foundation for inter-vendor data integration, allowing interoperability like never before but without centralized storage. For this reason, we predict Customer Data Platforms will rapidly mature to become as vital as CRMs, bringing about the next generation of customer experience driven by customer signal detection across sales, service, and marketing.
3. Edging Forward with Hyper Cloud
Whether it’s the Amazon Echo, Google Home Hub or Apple Watch, consumers are increasingly using smart devices to run their lives. As a result, processing at the edge will become as important as the move to the cloud, but the cloud will remain the core. Data processing is being performed on the consumer device for reasons including speed, cost, and security. Edge computing will shift processing and power costs to the consumer, thus reducing expenses for organizations. Businesses will increasingly adopt a microservices architecture and use edge computing to build a strong foundation for next-generation customer experiences driven by the digital consumer.
4. We’re Human After All
Sometimes customers just want to talk to a human. And sometimes contact center agents need a little help in order to quickly resolve a customer inquiry. In 2019, companies will increasingly adopt new AI tools to handle monotonous tasks, as well as help employees, become more efficient and effective when talking to a customer. Assistive technologies will provide employees with prompts, hints, tips and even special offers based on a dynamic interpretation of what is needed. The next generation of AI tools will give employees near super-human abilities to read customers’ emotional and linguistic cues, interaction behavior and predicted next steps. Employees will be elevated to the role of enabled problem-solver, allowing them to flex their creativity and feel more engaged at work. This stronger engagement with customers will reduce employee turnover and lower training costs.
5. Hyper Reality
While now mainly used for entertainment purposes, Smart TVs are able to deliver high-resolution, interactive content that businesses will soon be able to use to provide differentiated experiences based upon customer preference. As interactive content evolves to provide a state of hyper reality where physical and virtual realities become indistinguishable, the capabilities of Smart TVs will go beyond storytelling to include new product setup instructions and troubleshooting. In the workplace, they will be used as a content delivery tool for employee training, certification, compliance, and learning. Hyper reality will also provide companies with a new and rich data source on customer preferences.
Human Connection Drives Change
The changes we foresee are driven by the need for human beings to communicate with each other, whether it’s through a smart device or AI-augmented interface. In the end, the goal is not technology for technology’s sake, but to serve the basic human need for human connection — faster, more personally and easier.
Learn more about how these trends and others, such as the ethical use of AI, mindful user experience design and affective computing, will impact how businesses communicate with customers in the not too distant future.
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