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Guest Post: 5 Ways To Leverage Technology For A Better Customer Experience

This week we feature an article by Rahul Varshneya who writes about how technology innovations are continuously improving the customer experience. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This Maya Angelou quote fits perfectly when talking about the factors responsible […]

This week we feature an article by Rahul Varshneya who writes about how technology innovations are continuously improving the customer experience.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This Maya Angelou quote fits perfectly when talking about the factors responsible for positive brand customer service.

Support experience, overall experience, company culture, quality of product/service, are the major factors that decide how your brand makes the customer feel. And as humans, we use emotions in daily life to make all sorts of decisions. It’s natural for emotions, then, to be a natural part of customer engagement and experience. 

So, what part does technology play in this? Technology (or the ease of access to it) opens up options for people; they can take their business anywhere they want. 

According to a Salesforce’s connected shopper report, 79 percent of shoppers research a brand online before making a purchase in the store. Also, 45 percent of customers use email to connect with customer service. Customer service, therefore, extends beyond just the post-purchase cycle; pre-purchase and in-store experiences matter to modern customers. 

As we will see in the next section, technology is already helping businesses reach their customers faster and provide a delightful experience. This is leading to increased brand loyalty as customers experience repeated positive interactions with the brand. 

How to leverage technology for a better customer experience

There has been an outburst of technology in the past decade in every area of human life. From talking bathroom mirrors (thanks to Kohler) to reusable rockets (courtesy of SpaceX), we have seen unprecedented, often bewildering innovation. 

Customer experience has not been left behind.

1. Use social media as a forefront of customer service

Before Mark Zuckerberg revolutionized online communication with Facebook, the pace of feedback traveling via word-of-mouth was slow. Brands could contain negative experiences by addressing them on a one-by-one basis. 

Social media has empowered users to share instant feedback with their followers – and have those comments validated instantly. There is no place to hide for brands that don’t realize the value of customer service. 

As social networks open up new avenues for company reviews, companies have adopted their workflows to address their concerns at the point of origin. By using social accounts for addressing all kinds of customer queries, companies are expanding their customer experience strategy. 

This effect is more pronounced than ever. CRM tools are increasingly incorporating social media into their customer support modules. This allows support teams seamless access to customer information and complaints on the same platform.

Brands like Starbucks use their parent Twitter account to address complaints and generally talk to customers. Netflix has a dedicated Twitter account called NetflixHelps to respond to customer complaints. Nike does the same with its TeamNike account. 

2. Own your customer experience with a custom-developed app

Users can consume your products/services without a browser, talk to a customer service agent, use your app during product research, and much more. Combine offline content and functionalities and the customer experience increases manifold.

Give users goals (based on feature usage in the app) and reward them for completing these goals. This adds gamification to the customer experience mix and it could very well make your app viral. And you know what that means? More brand recognition, more leads, and more customers. 

The mobile app experience seamlessly integrates with pioneering technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality and big data analytics to offer engaging experiences. Creating a mobile app ensures that customers are connected to your brand at all times, irrespective of their physical location. 

Customer engagement isn’t just limited to remote experiences. With rising mobile usability and preferences, brands such as Walmart are leveraging mobile apps to leverage in-store retail experiences as well. Mobile apps bridge the gap between online and offline brand interactions and provide a vital window of opportunity by providing round the clock customer engagement. 

However, don’t just start creating an app just because everyone else is doing it. When it comes to successful apps, there is a method to the madness. Often when companies think of their first mobile app, they fail to go through one of the primary phases of careful planning, verification, and validation of the app idea. A poorly planned app could wreck your brand instead of lifting it up.

3. Message bots to enable round-the-clock, multi-purpose customer service

Bots are probably the most versatile technology being used in modern customer service teams. They are useful when the customer service team is not available. Bots can enable automation to the extent of self-service (for basic queries/complaints) for the customers. Amazon is using bots for quick queries and complaint resolution.

With pre-configured messages and conditional sequence logic programmed into the bot, you can delight new customers on Facebook messenger and create a great first impression. 

Michael Kors Concierge (the company’s Shorty Award-winning Facebook Messenger bot) boats of a mind-blowing array of features creating an exquisite experience for its customers. And it has impressive stats to boast:

  • 375,000 total active users and an average of 45,000 new users per month since its launch. 
  • More than 98% of customers contacting the chatbot stay within the bot. Only less than 2% of its customers are directed to a customer service agent

Social media bots can also be used as a supplemental channel for content marketing as well, drawing more traffic to your online assets and engaging customers on their platform of choice.

4. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) to make immersive, 3D experiences possible

VR and AR have opened up a brand new avenue for brands to offer a truly immersive experience. While VR provides an immersive 3D display, AR projects 3D images onto live video allowing customers to get an idea of the final picture before it is even built.

One of the more common applications of AR is an AR-enabled manual app that replaces the bulky paper manual. It sets a new standard for how users experience machines. Hyundai has done this by helping customers understand its car dashboards with an app. 

Product testing is another area where AR/VR provides a tremendous positive customer experience. 

On the IKEA Place app (iOS), Customers just have to select a product and the app uses AR to show them how it would look like in their home. There is instant feedback that delights the customer because it is an innovative and novel experience for them. It also saves their time as they can visualize products they want to buy right in their homes. 

Certain Audi dealerships also allow users to configure their own vehicles and then use VR to test their vehicles in the store without taking a test drive. Customers get to experience a sense of ownership for the vehicle because they were involved in selecting it. 

 5. A better understanding of the customer with predictive analysis using AI and BigData

Predictive analysis with AI involves predicting a user’s behavior and their needs based on the patterns mined from their past behavior and order history. It provides insights into customer behavior and is a particularly favored method of analysis in eCommerce.

It allows brands to understand their customers’ needs, motivations, and personalities and then use this data to serve them content specifically for them. By serving personalized product suggestions, you can increase the relevance of your brand with visitors. 

By analyzing your own sales data, you can predict the needs of users and use it to optimize your supply chain. This way you can ensure the availability of products as and when the users need it. If you get people what they want when they want it, you set yourself up for more customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.

Apart from personalized suggestions, predictive analytics tools like TIBCO Spotfire and Microsoft Azure ML studio use personalization for marketing on multiple channels. 

For example, if you know a user likes one of your products, you can use retargeting to serve them ads.

It also enables personalized content delivery through email and landing pages. As customer relates to these types of content, the trust factor increases and it leads to more micro-goals being fulfilled.

Final Words

As technology penetrates every walk of human life, customer experience teams have all the more opportunities to delight the customers. In fact, customer experience is now becoming a competitive factor among businesses. In an effort to stay ahead of the competitors, we will see new innovations in technologies that allow brands to drastically reshape how customers perceive them.

There are many paths ahead. Which one are you most excited about?

Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder and President of Arkenea. Rahul has been featured as a technology thought leader in numerous media channels such as Bloomberg TV, Forbes, HuffPost, Inc, among others.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to Blog: 5 Ways To Leverage Technology For A Better Customer Experience

Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: The Perfect Holiday Gift For Customers And Employees

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