Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne is the General Manager EMEA and Associate Founder of The Social Client. Here she shares her insights on digital customer experience and seven areas you should focus on now.
Today’s digital customer experience places mobile phones at the heart of all interactions. This results in a new means of communication: instant messaging. This channel opens a conversational window through which customers can immediately access a brand. It provides a record of their conversations and is available 24/7.
Messenger, WhatsApp and Twitter are championing this new form of exchange. This model has also been adopted “inApp” where, within customer accounts, you can find a history of your exchanges any time.
For the millennial generation, messaging is the No. 1 way to contact brands. This, in turn, correlates to their technology adoption rate – specifically mobile technology.
Another significant trend, of which brands are finally realising the importance, is customer feedback. As a result, communities and conversations surrounding brands have a major impact on businesses. These are a primary influence over a customer’s brand choice.
Today, word-of-mouth has exploded due to digital technology and the Internet’s potential to voice our opinions, impressions and advice. Comments can go viral immediately. Therefore, it is critical for brands to increase the recommendation rate. To work on promotional customers and take feedback into consideration. All of this forms the brand’s e-reputation. Not only must brands take this into consideration, but they must successfully manage and fuel it.
Brands now realise the relentless extent to which word-of-mouth can make or break a reputation. Consequently, they must mould it to their advantage by building on customer feedback, creating brand reps, activating ambassador programmes and involving social influencers. This enables brands to enrich, organise and take full advantage of the word-of-mouth impact.
Though it is outdated, there are brands that keep trying to adapt computer formats to mobile formats. We are beyond this point now. There are very specific codes tied to mobile devices. It no longer works for a brand to think of them as an additional, secondary experience to offer. Today, due to our technology, we must offer mobile native experiences.
Over the next three years, we’ll realise the full measure of one very important thing: digital technology has exponentially multiplied our contact points and brands are facing an impasse. They can no longer afford to be where their customers are at all times. As contact channels ceaselessly multiply, brands are reaching the point where they can’t keep up. The resulting trend is the convergence of all contact points, at the center of which two main players are proving to be critical:
Thus emerges a logical trend: chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI). As the number of channels increases so does traffic flow, which chatbots and AI can effectively manage and streamline. This begs the question of whether automation will replace human contact (which we don’t believe it will). We do believe, however, that certain simple, repetitive tasks will be accomplished automatically bringing additional value to the actual human contact with the brand. Customers’ digital expectations will be far higher at the time when they get in touch with a human advisor. Technology, therefore, opens up a space to enrich, if not altogether invent, new experiences.
Brands have already begun experimenting with virtual and augmented realities in order to create genuinely immersive and singular digital customer experiences. These experimentations are gaining substantial importance, credibility and financing and, we believe, are committed to becoming standard within five years.
We’ve spoken about the convergence of contact points as well as automation and augmented reality, which brings us to the notion of customer context: a new era we’re ushering in. Because of automation and AI, brands can personalise their customer relationship. By gathering knowledge on what a customer expects from this relationship, brands must fine-tune and customise the digital customer experience. Finally, brands must become truly proactive in answering their customers’ needs and, better yet, anticipate them.
Within a context of racing innovations, our ambition at The Social Client is to help brands understand the evolution of technology and its impact on users’ activities and behaviours. For eight years, our agency has experimented, innovated and deployed disruptive solutions applying to the digital customer experience. Most importantly, we aim to help brands successfully exploit these new technologies by implementing concrete operations in accordance with their needs, business and marketing strategy.