In this year’s tech predictions for 2018 one of the themes we discussed was customer experience and personalization.  Discussion about Customer Experience (CX) isn’t new, for years we’ve been discussing how CX is an integral piece of your overall success and encompasses how a customer interacts and engages with your brand, through every touchpoint. However, throughout 2017 and continuing in 2018 we’ve seen an increased focus on the experience enabled by emerging technologies.

The question now becomes, how do we leverage new technologies such as Voice, Machine Learning, Facial Recognition and Virtual Reality to enhance the customer experience and what are we actually able to implement today?

Voice is something we have utilized both at UDig and for our clients.  We have found the use cases are wide reaching, varied and applicable to every one of our verticals.  We’ve built our own Alexa proof of concept where we are able to receive quick highlights from Salesforce and we’re also able to ask it some more complex questions for deeper insights.  Being able to gather this data quickly saves us both time and energy as well as provides a great user experience we would have never been able to build without the widespread adoption of voice.

We have also delivered a medical voice assistant for Alexa as well as a proof of concept for a client to make the experience for healthcare professionals easier, ultimately making the patient’s visit and treatment easier while being HIPAA compliant.

With the widespread adoption and abundance of smart speakers such as Alexa, Google Home and others there is a new untapped channel we can use for customer interaction and customer experience.  Job aids only scratch the surface of what we can use voice for in our customer experience and we are committed to finding more ways where we can enable our clients through voice.

It’s very hard to distill Machine Learning into a 1:1 idea or concept because it is an enormous area and is used almost everywhere digital in some capacity. Looking at machine learning through the lens of “customer experience” at least helps me boil it down enough where conceptually, a few things stand out.  Machine learning, AI, and Neural networks all collect information whether it is within their own environment or direct input from a customer and their transactions.  Collecting this information in some sort of neural network will help you start to make certain associations with a type of customer and the products they are looking for, the pathways they take and other things they might be interested in.

By compiling data and relationships from all customers, a machine learning engine could make connections and insights you may not have had before which will help you further identify subsets of customers, allow for more personalization and assist with targeted marketing campaigns.  A lot of tools and platforms are already integrating Machine Learning like Adobe with Sensei and marketing frameworks like Hubspot and their AI tools.  This is just scratching the surface of things that can be done utilizing machine learning and as it becomes more integrated into tools we use day to day it will become easier to utilize the technology.

When you think of new improvements and innovations within the Digital space over the past year, facial recognition is definitely top of mind.  Although it’s been around for a while in various forms, facial recognition has just been re-introduced and perfected by Apple in the new iPhone X setting the standard for the quality of facial interactions in the near future.   Without getting too deep into Apple’s specific functionality it’s worth mentioning their facial recognition uses machine learning to accurately understand and interpret your face in a variety of scenarios.  Again, while Apple is not the only one using facial recognition at this time the prevalence of it on their flagship device and the fact that it is accessible through their SDK makes the usage of high quality facial recognition much more palatable and achievable as a medium for developers and capability business stakeholders.

Currently, facial recognition on a device is being used as a means of authentication, a form of payment and a way to play games. I see facial recognition continuing to grow in this direction but I also see a deeper usage of facial recognition. For example, targeted ads when you walk into a store based on the store “knowing” who you are.  A person’s “face” could be registered in their overall customer profile and becomes just another aspect to be able to deeply target your customer.  Maybe you started a transaction on a website for a particular store and later that week you go to that store to be greeted with “Would you like to continue looking at the item you were looking at a few days ago?”  the possibilities are endless. I think this will be a breakout year for facial recognition being used as a part of a customer’s experience.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are probably the most aspirational technologies to leverage for CX because at this point VR and AR are mainly used in gaming (50% of all use cases).  That is not to say this can’t be used to enhance your customer experience. Think about the prevalence of smartphones with AR capability and availability of cheap AR headsets such as Google Carboard.  It’s easy to get started creating an AR experience for your product, storefront or overall customer experience through a number of SDKs, toolkits such as Apple’s ARKit and a number of other open source AR toolkits.  We’ve done some dabbling in our Innovation Studio with the technology and feel that as developers get more familiar with these SDKs we will start to see more and more availability of these AR tools in real world applications.

These are just 4 areas where I feel customer experience is being disrupted and enhanced.  The prevalence of these new technologies in the customer’s home allows us to utilize these new technologies as soon as today.  Voice driven interactions and augmented experiences utilizing your customer profile and learning about your preferences through your interactions are the way of the future.  As we get smarter about targeting customers it only serves to make a better, more personalized, succinct experience.Director of Digital Services

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