Interactive Intelligence Group Inc., a global leader of cloud services for customer engagement, communications and collaboration, has shared its predictions for the five trends that will disrupt customer service in 2016.
A massive 89 percent of companies plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016, which is a dramatic increase since 2014 (36 percent) and 2015 (58 percent).1
“It’s clear that companies are making customer interaction experiences a priority, and the trends we’ve identified will be critical if businesses want to stay competitive,” said Dr. Donald E. Brown, Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO. “Of note is that all these trends rely heavily on the cloud, analytics and big data. These now form the underpinnings of nearly all things customer experience-related and will continue to be key components of any successful customer engagement strategy.”
1. Customer-Centricity Breaks Down Silos Between the Contact Centre, Enterprise and External Stakeholders
In today’s customer-centric world, customer relationships are becoming everyone’s responsibility. One of the biggest challenges companies face in this new shared responsibility is the number of employees involved in handling customer interactions.2This challenge will drive the need for digital work streams powered by converged systems that support customer engagement, communications and collaboration, and the cloud will play a key role. These digital work streams will not only help break down the barriers between the contact centre and enterprise, but also between organizations and their partners, suppliers and customers for faster response times and greater knowledge sharing.
2. IoT Expands the Omnichannel Experience
The explosive growth of device connectivity, wireless technology, cloud computing, and advanced analytics has driven the Internet of Things from vision to reality. Today, a full one-third of companies report using IoT, with another third planning to do so in 2016.3But how do companies use IoT to improve customer service without creating yet another siloed channel? Best practices for connecting IoT platforms to the contact centre will be critical if companies want to create a seamless customer experience across all interaction channels.
3. Artificial Intelligence: Machine Learning Hits Prime Time
Artificial intelligence has seen explosive growth. Advanced speech analytics, which relies heavily on AI, has been used in the contact centre for years to monitor interactions and trigger alerts for intervention. More recent AI advancements have fuelled the growth of machine learning. In fact, the global market for smart machines is set to grow to nearly $15.3 billion by 2019 at a 19.7 percent growth rate (2014-2019 CAGR).4 Machine learning can help companies identify patterns and predict customer behaviour. Companies will increasingly use machine learning to proactively engage with customers and manage the contact centre in far more effective and intuitive ways, including the use of conversational bots that serve as virtual agents and supervisors.
4. Digital Natives Finally Get Sophisticated DIY Customer Service
As the influence of millennials on the purchase process increases, the demand for DIY customer service has skyrocketed. This need for more sophisticated self-service options (think Web, SMS and mobile) has left many companies scrambling to give millennials a true multimodal experience. Despite these challenges, opportunities abound, especially for start-ups and small to mid-size companies. These companies are typically more nimble than their larger counterparts – and many foster cultures that naturally embrace DIY -- thus can adopt these strategies faster.
5. Mobile Everything
The topic of mobility is nothing new in 2016, but customers, members and citizens are fast anticipating the ability to do everything via a mobile device. In fact, nearly half of all inbound calls now come from mobile devices5. In 2016, developing apps for mobile devices will no longer be an afterthought but a mandate up front. The challenge will be to create an experience that ensures the context of the interaction is transferred as customers move from mobile apps to live interactions.
1Sorofman, Jake; McLellan, Laura. Gartner Finds Importance of Customer Experience on the Rise — Marketing Is on the Hook, Gartner, Sept. 29, 2014.
2Snow, Richard. Next Generation Customer Engagement Benchmark Research, Ventana Research, 2014.
3Gillett, Frank E.; Pelino, Michele; Shields, Tyler. Predictions 2016: IoT’s Impact Inside Companies, Forrester Research, Nov. 16, 2015.
4 Smart Machines: Technologies and Global Markets, BCC Research, May 2014.
5Dawson, Keith. 2016 Trends to Watch: Contact Centers, Ovum, Oct. 20, 2015.