Christine Landry is the Group Chief Executive of Conduent's Consumer & Industrials business unit
I often say that the experience a consumer has in any interaction sets their expectations for the next interaction — no matter the context. With the speed of advancements in technology, it’s imperative to design the experience around and along the consumer’s journey. In doing so, you ensure that whatever path they choose feels meaningful, intuitive, person-centric, and completely connected — regardless of the channel.
During Conduent’s Continuum ’18 Conference, I had the pleasure of speaking about digital interactions. It was a continuation of a theme that ran through the entire two-day event, but it was also an incredible opportunity to discuss not just what digital interactions are — but how organizations can create value from them.
Consumer expectations are creating new business opportunities
There are some interesting forecasts about the opportunities for businesses to capitalize on improving the digital experience. Gartner projects that by 2020, chatbots, or virtual customer assistants (VCAs), will be used in 25 percent of customer interaction management and support operations, up from just 2 percent in 2017. But according to Horses for Sources, nearly 40% of enterprises see their cultures as holding them back in their digital transformation journey, with 66% of the reasons being traditional thinking, lack of a digital mindset, and being held “hostage” by legacy technology.
From our 2018 State of Consumer Experience Report, we see data that reinforces the fact that, for many companies there’s still a lot of work to be done before the positive results can be realized. We surveyed 8,000 consumers about their relationships with brands in the Technology, Media, Telecom, and Retail industries — and somewhat surprisingly — the results showed that the top two channels used by consumers to communicate with brands (go to the store and use a call center) still largely rely on human interaction.
Interestingly, though, in the next five years, 81% of consumers expect their interactions with brands to be entirely on digital channels. This is a huge opportunity for brands — and also an enormous challenge. In order to be successful, brands need to get up to speed fast, understanding how to incorporate digital channels (through technology and platforms) across the customer journey so that the end user experience is not only enhanced, but fully individualized.
Creating individualized, immediate and intelligent interactions
In order to create the kind of valuable, individualized experiences end users expect, organizations must evolve in terms of who we listen to, how we listen, and how we deliver.
Who we listen to is everyone – we have to listen to every end user because every end user has a megaphone for their voice to be heard (it’s called the internet). It’s a complex proposition to listen to “everyone” because how we listen must happen across a multitude of channels that are continuing to expand.
Hearing our clients and potential clients is an absolute requirement in our ability to deliver a personalized and individualized experience. End users want you to remember them – every time they interact with you. They want you to predict what they might need or want based on their previous interactions, which means their experience needs to be hyper-personalized, regardless of context. And if anything goes wrong, you better believe they will complain LOUDLY through a variety of online channels. A consumer’s last, best digital experience is the one that sets the bar of expectation for the next. What the individual comes to expect is what will drive their future needs and wants.
That’s why integration across digital platforms is an absolute requirement. It will allow for data to be used intelligently, and will extend the digital experience through mobility, social, engagement bots, automation, machine learning, and more.
Having access to data — and knowing what to do with it — will be the game changer
For today’s organizations looking to win at the digital interactions game, uncovering the value of their clients’ data should be a top priority. But for many companies today, data lives in silos. Delivering excellent, individualized experiences cannot simply be an exercise in building a fancy front-end user interface. Instead, a digital platform architecture must be integrated across all the core layers, including the engagement, processing, intelligence and analytics layers, to break down data silos and begin listening and learning across all channels.
Personalization — and the ability to predict future needs and behaviors — also depends on the availability of end user data. Getting that data is often a challenge because it relies on the end-user directly supplying it to you. This could be information such as marital status or age, where they are employed, or whether they have children. And our report shows that consumers are becoming more selective about what data they share, driving the statistic our report uncovered that 86% of brands do not have sufficient customer data to develop a bot-based intelligent interaction strategy.
Redefining your business for better end user outcomes
As end user experience becomes a critical competitive differentiator, we are empowering our clients through a customer-centric ideology. Digital interactions and individualized, human-centric experiences aren’t buzz words. These are real concepts we are bringing to life – right now.
One exciting example is our robust virtual learning capability, in which we’ve taken learning to an entirely new level. With virtual and augmented reality, we can place the learner directly in the learning setting – but do so in a completely controlled way that is focused on the individual.
With augmented reality, a learner can have an interactive experience of the real-world environment. We can use mobile devices to serve up virtual parts, products, or equipment so the learner can practice interacting with those items or can collaborate in real time to problem-solve with teams who are not co-located. With virtual reality, simulations create a life-like environment where a learner can practice and make mistakes without being in danger. Through this, we’re able to deliver individualized and intelligent learning that is personalized, controlled by the learner, facilitated by technology, and integrated with big data.
For real value to be created through digital interactions, businesses must shift their focus from cost containment or cost cutting and seek partners that can help them redefine how they are listening, how they are integrating platforms and channels, and – ultimately – how they are delivering the best experiences and end-user outcomes possible. And Conduent, with our digital platform architecture, is helping to lead the way.
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