Gone are the days of “Dear Sir/Madam.”
Today, marketing and customer service emails are addressed by name. Website algorithms suggest items you might be interested in based on your browsing and purchase history (“If you liked this, you might also like…”). Netflix even shows us different versions of posters for the same show, depending on what it determines about our tastes.
According to Frost & Sullivan, customer experience will become the key brand differentiator by 2020, edging out both price and product. This means personalization is here to stay, and brands who can’t connect with the customer to create satisfying experiences will struggle to remain competitive.
Markets are increasingly becoming saturated with similar, high-quality products at slightly varying price points. It’s no longer enough to offer the cheapest goods or even the best product. Paying attention to how customers interact with your brand both before, during, and after the buying process is critical for a winning strategy.
So how can digital marketers create a highly interactive and satisfactory customer experience for their brands? The answer lies in leveraging the best technologies to build immersive, personalized customer journeys across every channel.
8 Technologies That Are Shaping Personalized Customer Journeys
These eight technology trends enable brands to provide the ultimate personalized experience for the customer.
1. Web Content Management Platforms Facilitate Personalization
“The democratization of capabilities has provided greater agility for marketers and enabled WCM to be formally regarded as key to delivering engaging digital experiences to multiple audiences.” – Mick MacComascaigh and Jim Murphy, Gartner authors
Web content management (WCM) platforms are evolving as the need for personalization influences the software capabilities brands need to implement their customer engagement strategy. Almost all WCMs can automate metadata to optimize content categorization.
Compared to manually categorizing content, which can be ineffective and inaccurate, automating this process closes the gap created when using drop-down lists for tagging, for instance.
2. Augmented Reality Provides an Engaging In-Store Experience
Consumers no longer need to go to a physical location to purchase a product. Retailers today are considering this by using AR technology to provide an immersive experience outside of the store.
This is a key strategy for the future of retail as 71% of consumers say they would shop more frequently at a store that offers augmented reality and 40% would pay more for a product if they can experience it through AR.
Brands like Lacoste are already using AR apps so that customers can try items of clothing through the app to experience how they would look and feel. Other examples of AR technology include in-store AR mirrors that show you wearing a piece of clothing and signage around stores that can connect to your cellphone to pull up reviews of a product.
3. Voice Interactions to Add to the Audiovisual Experience
According to a survey of 500 IT decision makers, 88% believe that voice technology would give them a competitive advantage when it comes to enhancing the customer experience.
As voice technology becomes more and more functional and engaging, customers won’t think twice about interacting orally with brands through apps. The Starbucks barista app––which allows users to speak orders into their phones––is a prime example of consumer-facing voice technology.
4. Smart Cars Bring the Brand to the Driver
Cars today are no longer pieces of assembled hardware. They are built around sophisticated software that brands can utilize to create an on-the-road experience for customers.
For example, General Motors cars come with a featured called Marketplace on the car screen, through which drivers can place orders from brands like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. The technology offers consumers both convenience and an experience that comes to them, rather than the other way around.
5. Artificial Intelligence Suggests Relevant Data to Customers
AI and machine learning are the difference between a brand that stops at personalizing emails by using the customer name and one that can give customers exactly what they want by offering relevant information.
Perhaps the most powerful example of a brand who uses this technology for maximum advantage is Amazon, which reportedly drives 35% of its sales through its recommendations feature. Artificial intelligence can determine customer behavior by mining through the troves of data generated by their browsing and purchase histories. Machine learning continues to improve this process by using new data to narrow down the customer profile further.
6. Blockchain Creates Personalized Digital Identities
The full potential of blockchain has yet to be seen, but one survey puts its value at $60 billion by 2024. It’s already being used by businesses and governments to secure sensitive data and will likely have vast implications for consumers in the next few years.
Blockchain allows anyone to gather data without exposing their privacy. Rather than brands collecting customer data and using it to their advantage, customers get to choose whether they want to share the data or not without revealing their identity.
One example of this in practice is the World Food Programme, which uses an iris scan to match refugees without official identifying documents to their food distributions.
7. IoT Devices Understand the Customer
IOT applications in the home can already communicate with their surroundings to control temperature, lighting, and other smart devices. Over time, the data gathered through these products can provide a deeper understanding of the customer and their preferences.
Especially when it comes to monitoring health, IoT devices can not only provide personalized experiences but also benefit their users by providing more value to their lives. Wearable devices track different measures of health, which can lead to relevant health recommendations.
8. 24/7 Service via Conversational Bots
Ninety percent of customers today expect immediate responses from customer service reps. Managing inquiries from a myriad of channels ranging from social media to phone calls to live chat is more important than ever. But handling the ever-increasing volume while maintaining the same rate of response can be challenging.
That’s why conversational bots will be the key to excellent, personalized customer journeys in the coming years. Unlike human support reps, they can be online 24/7 and respond to multiple inquiries at once. The Swedish Tax Agency uses a chatbot named Skatti to answer around 15,000 chats per month about customers’ tax returns.
Create Personalized Customer Journeys That Don’t Sacrifice Your Content
The technology certainly exists to enhance brand experiences for customers. But implementing that technology without sacrificing the heart of the experience—your content—will be a tough task if you don’t have a modern, flexible content management system (CMS), such as a headless CMS, in place.
Not only will a headless CMS organize all your cross-channel content in one place, but it can also help you create more engaging, personalized customer journeys.