The internet fires information from point to point in packets of light.
To say this has fundamentally changed the world would be a massive understatement.
With a few keystrokes, you can have a man at your door with a pizza, or a car waiting to drive you across town. Do you want to know about the Swedish Empire in the 18th century? Or watch any movie ever created ever? It is all a click away. You are the digitally empowered. Your time and attention is precious.
The 1000 words in this article might take you 10 minutes to read, but online that is a lifetime. What are you or any publisher, company, or brand, to do?
Inbound marketing was adopted as a strategy to reclaim attention.
It was a conscious choice, a paradigm shift, from trying to sell an experience to create your own. Marketers started writing blogs, to sell swimming pools and invested in prominent voices on social media. Everything made everything easier and faster for the customer.
We promised to fix problems and better lives and then actually made the content to deliver while coaxing attention a moment at a time.
This methodology is now firmly established. Again, the bar has been raised. What remains to be seen is how companies will continue to compete on customer experience. What more can they offer? What will this future customer experience look like?
The Future of Customer Experience: What will it look like?
1. Automation, Automation, and oh yeah Automation
Hang around the right kind of nerds, and you will hear talk of the singularity. Predicted by sci-fi books in the 1950s, the technological singularity is a hypothesis that artificial intelligence will trigger unprecedented advancement in technology and result in unfathomable changes to the human civilization. – Wikipedia
Every branch, discipline, and specialty of marketing and sales is being disrupted by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation. With big data and the processing power to match, marketing software can create a personalized experience for each and every user.
The future of the user experience will be defined by these technologies. As we collect data about customers, at an ever-accelerating rate, and AI constantly improves its ability to optimize the funnel, it seems to me that marketing is heading towards a singularity of its own.
Ai is combining all the marketing disciplines. An algorithm doesn’t break a sweat creating a profile for an individual user, targeting them across multiple channels, monitoring their feedback, and if chatbots keep going the way they are replying in real time with natural language processing we will have a one size fits all marketing tool that combines, behavioral marketing, programmatic advertising, native advertising, and user-generated content, across channels to target exact people qualified with big data.
I submit to you that after years of research my take on the future of customer experience is one where algorithms monitor everyone and use all the marketing tools at their disposal to show them personalized content and entirely personalize the experience. No two people will experience the same funnel, yet it will be harmonious and structured like never before.
2. The Internet of Things Will Decentralize the Customer Experience
Marketo defines the Internet of Things (IoT) as “the interconnectivity of our digital devices that provides endless opportunities for brands to listen and respond to the needs of their customers – with the right message, at the right time, on the right device”.
In an infographic, Marketo claims “51% of the world’s top global marketers expect that IoT will revolutionize the marketing landscape by 2020.” Revolutionize; Sure, but it isn’t going to be an effortless transition.
Knowing that a customer is running low on lettuce from a smart fridge it a massive opportunity, and I am sure the local grocer will move heaven and earth to provide an on-demand service to ensure the whole neighborhood never runs out of lettuce again. This won’t be without its challenges. Remember, when every tech company was dropping millions trying to be the first to collect user information on mobile devices? I expect something similar to happen with smart appliances.
The online experience will still be online, but if the internet of things has its way, we won’t need to do everything from a screen. People might start ordering their Ubers as they walk out the door with their home assistants, and a company recently experimented with a Twitter vending machine. The challenge for marketers is connecting their services with these appliances and finding a way to collect this data.
3. Mobile Devices Will Continue to Dominate and The User Experience Will Reflect This
We use our phones for everything now. Salesforce’s state of the concerned customer report found that over a third of millennials have used a phone to research a product while they are in the store, and one fourth have purchased a product online while in the store.
We are already seeing accommodations being made all over the web for mobile devices. Google moved their ads from the right column of the screen to a top-down interface. Facebook built a messenger app separating it from the main app, and speaking of, there are now over 30,000 chatbots that provide a unique user experience for customers on a mobile device.
Revisiting the last point about the IOT, a lot of interfaces for IOTs devices coordinate with mobile devices.
Well it a powerful little screen that we carry around with us. And don’t forget about the functionality of the modern smart phone, with sensors that detect location, count steps, and a camera that can scan QR codes, it is basically the backbone of the service economy.
How many of these services work exclusively on a mobile phone?
4. VR and the Future of the Customer Experience
Virtual reality is making waves. We have the tech, the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are the big exciting headsets promising the next level gaming experience, but untethered headsets like the Samsung Gear and others that turn phones into VR screens are also helping to usher VR into the mainstream.
VR is uncharted territory. No one really knows exactly what getting into VR means. Companies have had marketing success and created some interesting customer experiences: VR has been used to promote movies and demonstrate product attributes, features, functionality, but there is no tried and tested template. Companies that want to use VR to create a user experience will need to work it out for themselves.
I believe that the first online shop to master the online changing room is going to make billions. At the moment VR is more of a novelty factor being used to generate hype to garner social media likes. Etihad Airways let people tour their first class cabin, TopShop live streamed a runway show to their flagship London store, and Volvo is letting people test drive cars with VR on their phones.
This is really just the beginning. I am confident that VR will become a major platform at the foundation of the customer experience but only time will tell exactly what that looks like.
5. Chatbots Could Become a Major Point of Customer Interaction
I mentioned them earlier in the article, but chatbots really deserve their own section because of the massive potential they have. Messenger is often called the search engine of mobile and few marketers are aware of the opportunity that it offers. 1.2 billion people are on the Facebook messenger platform, and brands want to tap into this massive audience.
Chatbots seem to be the best way to do that. They can interact with people like they are just having a conversation and due to improving AI and a lot of Silicon Valley interest they are slowly getting smarter and more useful for the people that interact with them.
Pizza Hut has a very basic chatbot that lets customers order pizza directly from the Messenger app. This helps combat app fatigue and without going to a website on a mobile device the user has access to all the same information access in a natural, conversational way.
It isn’t hard to imagine a mobile customer experience driven by chatbots, and it ties into the fast-growing service economy. There are already chatbots that can book flights, call cars, deliver food, and do your taxes. It’s exciting to see just where these talking bots can take us.