Building a solid customer base is important for the longevity of any company, but with competition for customers increasing and brand loyalty in decline, this is more of a challenge now than it has ever been. To attract new customers and retain existing ones, businesses are increasingly offering personalized customer experiences. Here we’ll look at a range of important technologies that are enabling this to take place.
- Big data analytics
Imagine there are two companies vying for your custom. The first shows you random offers whilst the second shows you offersit knows you are interested in. It doesn’t take a genius to work out which one you are more likely to stay loyal to and buy from. This is how important personalized offers can be in improving the customer experience and helping a business grow.
To provide the best personalized offers, more businesses are turning to big data analytics. The data comes from our online activities, we give our consent to data being gathered when we visit websites, use an app, interact on social media, and so forth. Indeed, we willingly give information about our backgrounds, circumstances, and interests.
The amount of data a company collects about us, and people like us, is enormous, and analyzing that data helps businesses to provide a far better customer experience. Big data analytics, which is done using cloud technology, gives businesses critical insights into customer behavior and preferences. It helps them understand our expectations, problems, and desires and in doing so, lets them provide us with the solutions we want.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
Connecting a device to the internet provides lots of opportunities for developing personalized experiences that customers will find rewarding. Perhaps one of the most commonly used IoT devices is the smart meter. According to the Edison Foundation, electric companies have installed over 72 million of these in domestic properties across the US. The data collected from the smart meters enables electric companies to help individual households save money. They will know in what ways you are wasting energy and what solutions you can use to cut down the amount of energy you use. This lets them send you personalized offers, based on your own usage, to help you reduce your costs.
IoT enabled fitness trackers are another example. These devicesprovide real-time tracking of your activities and when compared to your starting levels and goals enable you to judge your progress. However, some companies can use this information to bring further benefits. If you meet a daily target, for example, you can be sent a well-done message. If you find yourself slacking, the app can send you more motivational messages to get you back on track. Similarly, the company can send you offers to help improve your fitness, for example, diet plans, sportswear, supplements or gym membership deals.
According to Gartner, the number of IoT devices in use was 8.4 billion in 2017. By 2020, it will have risen to 20.4 billion. This means there is enormous potential for many businesses to use the IoT to improve their customer experiences.
Near Field Communication (NFC) is increasingly used to improve the customer experience in store. By placing an NFC tag, such as those available from Universal Smart Cards, on products, posters and POS materials, a customer can be sent information and offers just by tapping their smartphone on the tag. This can include in-store discounts, product specifications, stock availability details, videos, links to a landing page and much more.
There are several advantages that this technology brings. It gives consumers the choice of whether to interact or not, it gives them access to information that can clinch a sale, and the offers which are sent make them feel like valued customers. They also reduce the possibility that the customer will look online for a cheaper deal.
- AI Chatbots
Online chat has been around for a while and many businesses use it to answer customer queries and deal with customer service issues. Customers love the easy access to assistance, it helps them get the product they are looking for and it often helps secure a sale. Positive interactions also improve brand reputation and customer loyalty.
However, human-operated live chat does have two downsides: it’s expensive to maintain a team of operators 24/7, even if this is outsourced to a third party, and if the operators are busy, customers can be left frustrated in a queue.
Chatbots, on the other hand, solve those problems. You only need humans for the most challenging of interactions, so you can have a much smaller team and because chatbots are virtual, any interaction can be dealt with instantly.
Whilst some may balk at the idea of letting customers interact with a virtual assistant, their use of artificial intelligence and machine learning means that they are well equipped to deal with the majority of customer serviceoperations – and they can do so via IM, SMS, voice, mobile app, or on a website.
- Virtual reality
Virtual reality has finally found its way onto the business landscape and is being used to transform the customer experience by providing highly engaging sensory experiences that enable consumers tointeract in an immersive way with a product.
One high profile example of VR being used was in the UK where Guinness was launching three new beers. Customers were immersed in a VR environment which featured sounds, shapes, and colors that had been scientifically proven by an Oxford professor to enhance the flavor of each drink. They even drank from intelligent cupswith built-in chips that triggered multi-sensory cues to improve thetaste and smell of the beer.
Although this kind of experience may be beyond the means of most companies for now, like all technologies, it will soon be less expensive and more accessible to all. It looks like a lot of fun, too.
The customer experience is being revolutionized by these modern technologies and they are helping companies give consumers highly personalized and relevant offers that incentivize sales and develop long-term loyalty to their brand.