Why using the right technologies matters for brand loyalty
By Will Gordy, Director, Workplace Collaboration and Customer Experience, Verizon Business
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From artificial intelligence to machine learning, new tech is helping savvy companies build brand loyalty like never before
Building and keeping consumer loyalty is more important than ever, yet many companies either feel unprepared or unable to fully implement the latest powerful digital technologies for an improved customer experience.
When tools such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and advanced analytics are instituted correctly, brands can provide customers with a personalized, unforgettable experience that translates to greater retention, lower churn and a more loyal customer base. But if the tools are either not deployed or poorly implemented, customers will know.
Of course, the implications of even a single unpleasant experience can be disastrous. To be successful, brands must ensure they are using the right customer experience technology for the job. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case right now.
A new Verizon survey finds 63% of top marketing, customer services and other executives from around the world shows the latest digital tools are instrumental in today’s digital customer experience landscape. Yet the same survey finds that 37% of respondents are struggling to use technology to strengthen customers’ emotional attachment to the brand, and another 39 percent believe they have not fully capitalized on the advanced technologies they’ve deployed in recent years in their customer-facing operations.
Barriers to customer experience success
Even though most executives know that improving customer loyalty is a critical business need, a lack of sufficient investment and poor implementation are among the challenges keeping success at bay. Other reasons discovered by the survey include employee difficulties in adapting to innovative technologies, challenges integrating these new technologies with existing ones, and a failure to create simple processes that help customers.
This last point is key. Most of those surveyed cite their company’s inability to have a customer speak or chat with a human agent in real time and the company’s failure to fulfill expectations for customer service or care as key pain points. These struggles vary but the result is the same: customer frustration and diminished trust in the brand.
While not all customer interactions require advanced technologies, they do hold great potential to improve the customer experience by providing things such as a better visualization of analytics insights about customer preferences, as well as technology or processes that minimize or eliminate the need for customers to repeat details they’ve already provided.
Putting emerging customer experience technology to work
Ensuring the smart implementation of advanced tools and technologies requires more than just a deployment of the latest and greatest. What’s needed is a strategic, thoughtful plan of attack that considers all aspects of a company’s customer-facing operations. From analysis and integrated change to experimentation and leadership buy-in, there are four guiding principles that can help ensure success.
1. Start with customer insights
Before any investment is made, the company should thoroughly research their customer needs and behaviors to understand how emerging technologies can create a positive emotional connection with their brands. Only then should they begin to make decisions about which technologies to invest in and how they should be deployed.
2. Reimagine customer data
Speaking of deployment, simply adding these tools is not enough. It requires considerable attention to ancillary areas, such as training, process change and culture change. A plan to integrate technology that removes data silos to ensure all agents are using common, accurate and current customer data is essential.
3. Embrace rapid change
AI, ML and other emerging technologies are evolving every day, and brands will need to be willing to adopt a “crawl, walk, run” approach to using new technologies in customer-facing operations. Experimentation with use cases should be the norm before scaling them up.
4. Engage with company leadership
Creating a best-in-class customer experience with recent technologies is doomed to fail if the data collected and insights gleaned are not used to influence senior level decisions about how to improve customer interactions. A C-level voice is needed—from marketing, technology, or other key functions—to ensure that this link is strong.
A bright future for customer experiences
The power of advanced technologies that generate customer insights and act upon them to deliver a better customer experience have barely begun to tap their full potential. Many of those surveyed say they plan to prioritize the development of AI capabilities, such as chatbots, to help strengthen customer loyalty.
While AI and ML look to be technology priorities for the next two years, immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are also gaining steam with brands that see them as the best ways to enrich interactions and reconnect with customers.
No matter which direction you look, technology is playing a growing role in delivering the customer experience of today and the future.
For the full findings highlighting how companies are using emerging technologies to improve customer loyalty, download the report. Learn more about how Verizon’s Cloud Contact Center Solutions can support your business transformation today.