People are people. Meaning, they live and breathe emotions, and no matter which environment or age they find themselves in, feelings will be involved in their decision-making. This is an undeniable reality across industries, hence, the dominance of customer experience on trend lists in the past five years. It’s a top trend that doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon, as evidenced by 81% of marketers saying they’re expecting to compete solely on the battlefields of customer experience in the next couple of years.
So, as 2018 draws to a close, what are the customer experience-related trends to watch out for in 2019?
Rise of Insights-Driven Organizations
With all the available technology to capture and process data, only 10% of organizations are insight-driven. But that’s about to change, as insights-driven businesses are posed to steal $1.2 trillion worth of revenue in 2020. According to Forrester, these disruptors of disruptors have a clear set of goals, which are to win, serve and retain customers. Pioneers of which are Google, Baidu and Netflix.
Key capabilities of an insight-driven organization:
- Democratize insights or the ability to not just make insights available across the enterprise via an insight database, but also disseminate and transmit them fast.
- Experiment or continuous and iterative learning mindset. It’s a culture of testing and development that is essential for growing and future-proofing the business.
- Close the loop or ability to hear and rapidly act on customers’ feedback.
Steady Climb of Automation and AI/ML in Industry Transformation
The groundwork for automation and artificial intelligence/machine (AI/ML) have been set and early adopters are already seeing positive results in terms of revenue and profit. May it be at home or in the workplace, IDC said that 75% of workers have interacted with at least one AI/ML built-in application in 2018 (e.g. Siri, Alexa and Slack/Skype chatbots). In 2019, these AI/ML interactions are expected to level-up to intelligent digital assistants. IDC also predicts that it’s about to move to mainstream industry-wide use to the tune of $77.6 billion worth of spending in 2022.
3 uses of AI/ML across industries:
- Robots in retail/hospitality. Softbank’s humanoid-robot Pepper has been test-deployed all over the world to see how businesses can use this AI-powered assistant to serve customers. During its test-runs, Pepper had been a concierge for dealership customers, a hotel check-in assistant, and more. A store in Palo Alto tech shop reported a 70% increase in foot traffic in the week that Pepper was there. In 2019, Amazon is launching its own version, “Vesta”, which might be an evolution of Alexa.
- Predictive analytics in manufacturing/supply chain, medicine/healthcare and fashion/beauty. Google attempted to predict the likelihood of a patient’s death using 200 thousand patients and more than 46 billion data points, and came away with an astonishing 95% accuracy. Top makeup brand, Shiseido, used ML to find out what customers might want next and offer truly personalized recommendations. In manufacturing and supply chain, the potential of predictive analytics is enormous. It’s a landscape projected to be worth $9 billion by 2020, as it opens up opportunities in the areas of demand forecasting, pricing, maintenance and after-sales optimization services.
- Cognitive intelligence in energy/mining. To ensure seamless autonomous operation and minimize guesswork in port scheduling, transportation, drilling and planning, these industries use cognitive computing. Using an airplane cockpit-like platform, a machine operator gets cues from a system that learns actions and gives real-time feedback.
Not Cloud Overhead, but Everywhere
The projected global public cloud spending for 2019 will reach $200 billion, as enterprises race to upgrade their processes and mine insights out of their piles of accumulated data. According to Forrester, cloud computing will be the foundation of future enterprise applications, as businesses strive to deliver compelling product and customer experiences.
Top cloud trends:
- Hybrid/multi-cloud solutions. Businesses are learning that the best cloud solution is a blend of public and private, or as 85% of enterprises prefer nowadays, a mix of at least eight clouds.
- Integrated IaaS and PaaS. The growth of the infrastructure-as-a-service (Iaas), which is expected to reach $39.5 billion in 2019 is a direct result of enterprise digital transformation undertakings. But according to Gartner, the days of Iaas-only are numbered, as 90% of organizations that will be buying Iaas will expect providers to have it integrated with their platform-as-a-service (PaaS) by 2022.
- Quantum computing. The race is on to come up with the best quantum platform to outdo the world’s fastest supercomputers. Industries such as financial, automotive, pharmaceutical, gaming and even government agencies are very interested in the potentials of this technology. Top players so far are IBM, Google and Microsoft.
Welcome Voice Search/Commerce
By 2020, at least 50% of all searches are going to be through speech, according to Andrew Ng, formerly of Baidu and Google. He also mentioned images, but voice search is fast gaining traction on mobile, especially among the 16-44 year olds. On top of that, the GlobalWebIndex Voice Search Report also revealed that 34% of Internet users are keen on buying a voice-controlled smart assistants.
Implications of voice commerce in marketing:
- SEO. Google’s 2013 Hummingbird update uses context and intent/semantic and natural language in delivering results. It’s the perfect foundation for the inevitable rise of voice search. It’s, therefore, important for marketers to survey what their target is using voice search for, so they can adapt their voice ad strategy and content accordingly.
- Hyper-local content. Voice searchers are mostly done on mobile, meaning searchers are on the go and intend to go somewhere close when they search. This is the perfect opening for local businesses to increase visibility according to proximity.
- Customer experience. Smart speakers are expected to be in nearly 50% of American households by 2019. And as these AI-powered solution learns (it continuously listens), consumers’ experiences with it will be more refined, convenient and enjoyable. For now, 70% of consumers use it mainly to play music, 64% to listen to weather forecast and 53% to get random answers to random questions.
Crown “Video” King of Content
There’s no other content that businesses and consumers, alike, enthusiastically consume more than video, and by 2019, it will comprise 80% of worldwide Internet traffic. This is one of the most controversial trends in the last couple of years, when organizations, mostly publications, made a “pivot to video” influenced by Facebook metrics. But scandal aside, video has proven to be that special vehicle that brings brands closer to consumers through storytelling, evidenced by 93% of marketers using video to boost their campaigns.
Video effectivity by the numbers:
- 52% of marketers affirm video’s supremacy in creating brand awareness.
- 51% of global marketers confirm that among content types, video has the best ROI.
- Marketers report 49% faster revenue growth with video compared to non-video users.
So, there you have it. Just five of the most noteworthy customer experience-related trends worth exploring in 2019. And as it’s a new year, it’s always an open door for your business to turn over a new leaf. With all the opportunities presented by new technology, it’s perhaps time for your business to try out something new. As Albert Einstein famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”