In the last decade, humanity has achieved a significant number of technological advance which are bound to make a huge impact in our lives and the way we do business. Some of these tech advances are already in use, empowering businesses with the ability to expand service offerings and enhance customer experience.
In this article, I will highlight 6 recent tech advances and how some businesses are already using them to influence the customer experience.
#1. Virtual Reality
The popularity of Virtual Reality (VR) technology is increasing, and it shaping up to be a great game changer in the way brands engage with their customers. VR offers an immersive experience to the user that makes it possible to experience things they cannot really interact with physically. Different brands have already begun taking advantage of VR technology to improve both customer & employee experience. VR is currently being used for:
Virtual eLearning – Retail giant Walmart is leveraging on VR technology to train its associates on customer service. At Walmart’s training academies, the employees use VR headsets to experience a variety of real-world scenarios like large crowds. This gives them a chance to test theories and techniques that help them handle the situation efficiently.
Hands-on experience Demo – Brands can offer customers the opportunity to try-out or test products by themselves in a virtual environment. IKEA released a free iOS app, titled IKEA Place, which allows users to browse IKEA’s product offerings and then preview how the items would look in their actual home, right from their phone. This gives the customers a great idea of how furniture will look and fit into their space before they make a purchase.
#2. Location-Based Computing
With location service technology becoming standard functionality on smartphones, more people are walking around today with location-service enabled devices in their pockets than ever before. This presents interesting opportunities which businesses can explore to offer more personalized services to customers in a way that enhances the customer experience. For example;
Location Based Promos – Businesses are already using Location-based services to reach out to customers at a particular geo-location with personalized offers based on their location. For instance, cinemas, theatres, and other venues can target consumers in their vicinity and provide them with last minute offers on tickets and products.
Navigation Services – Lowe’s Companies Inc. recently launched an app which allows customers to navigate its large warehouse-like stores, helping them find products faster and easier. The app called The Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app works using a combination of VR and Location Based Services. Here’s how it works:
A consumer at Lowe’s opens the app on the store smartphone. The shopper searches for products and adds the products to a shopping list in the app. Once she has all the items in her virtual cart she hits a “begin navigation” button.
The app factors in the consumer’s location and where the products are located in the store, down to the shelf level. A consumer holds the smartphone, which uses the camera lens to get the visual out in front of her and a yellow line will appear on-screen on the ground in front of her. Following the yellow line will lead her to the first product on her list. An image of the product hangs in the distance so the consumer knows which product she is walking toward.
#3. 3D Printing
3D printing used to be the stuff of fiction, but today it is reality and it has begun to revolutionize customer experience by adding efficiency and transforming the way businesses manufacture and distribute goods. 3D printing makes it possible to transform a virtual object into a physical one almost instantly. Product designers can now design and print 3D product prototypes quickly and inexpensively. This makes it possible to identify design flaws and fix them earlier in the manufacturing process, saving money and preventing issues that might impact negatively on the customer experience.
Aside from improving manufacturing, 3D printing makes it possible to create highly customized products for users. This is already being put into action by Lowe’s, with their “Bespoke Designs”, allowing customers to use 3d scanning and printing technologies in the New York station for home improvement projects.
The Customers can alter the shape and colours of an item, engrave text, and choose from various materials making it possible to print custom-designed products. As a result, consumers will no longer have to choose from old standardized templates, rather they will have the ability to create & showcase their personal styles.
Chatbot technology is becoming more popular as businesses discover innovative ways to put them to use. Chatbots offer numerous benefits for businesses – they make life easier for customers, are available 24/7, save time and they are easy to use.
Chatbots can be used to improve customer engagement and enhance User Experience. Check out these 10 Interesting Applications of Chatbots covered in an earlier post.
#5. Artificial Intelligence
Due to huge advances in the development of machine learning, Natural Language Processing, and cognitive computing, Artificial intelligence is already making its way into business processes across organizations and is poised to have a significant impact on the Customers’ Experience
AI functionalities are increasingly being used by brands and retailers in a variety of ways, from personalization to Improved Support & Security Services. Organizations in the Music, TV, and E-commerce industries are adopting AI to enhance customer experience and differentiate themselves. Brands like Amazon & Netflix have powerful recommendation engines that analyze customer search and purchase history, and then use the data to make recommendations the user is most likely to value.
#6. Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things refers to the ever-growing network of devices – from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables, that feature an IP address for internet connectivity & communication between these devices and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.
According to Gartner, the total number of connected devices will grow to 11.19 billion by 2018. These connected devices are creating new opportunities for brands to take the customer experience to a whole new level.
Insights – The IoT generates a massive amount of data. This data provides rich insights on customer behaviour and device performance which can be used to identify areas of improvement, user patterns and more. These insights can be used to improve efficiency, develop more robust products or create more personalized offerings.
Predictive Modelling – Combining AI and IoT makes it possible to create predictive models that utilize condition-based monitoring to prevent failures before they occur. This allows the business to provide timely maintenance services to fix issues before the functionality of the device is completely hindered, thereby eliminating downtimes even before they occur. For example;
A customer who purchased a dishwasher can be notified immediately of any potential problems with critical components of the equipment, allowing him/her to schedule a maintenance visit with a company technician before the machine fails completely.
This article is written by Kelechi Okeke:
Kelechi Okeke is an avid customer advocate, he works as a customer experience analyst and service delivery developer with a leading financial institution in Nigeria, and has over 5 years experience in Graphics design and content development. Kelechi is also the founder of CXservice360, a thought-leading customer service and experience knowledge portal.
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