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PREDICTIONS 2019 What does the coming year hold for the customer experience?

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How will retail change and develop in 2019? We hear from industry insiders and share their predictions for the year ahead. This ongoing series will focus on a different theme each time. Today we’re looking at the customer experience which, according to monetisation platform 2Checkout’s eCommerce Trends to Consider in 2019 report, is the number one business priority for the coming year.

Conversational user experience

Audelia Boker, global VP marketing at customer management tech provider Glassbox

The conversational UX trend will continue and voice command will play a larger role in how customers engage with retailers. We will also see a wider adoption of machine learning applied to analytics in real time. This will all be part of an industry trend towards more holistic digital customer management.”

From customisation to community

Valentina Candeloro, marketing director at customer experience specialists Mood Media

While customisation has been a key trend since the beginning of the decade, it is starting to become more industrialised at the point of sale. Getting consumers immersed in the brand’s universe has become imperative. In order to achieve this, brands have two very important tools at their disposal: art and play.

Soon, with the development of conversational technologies (chatbots, AI, etc.), brands will no longer exist independently as such; they must become part of their customers’ daily life and gather real communities around them. 

Keep the human touch while using AI

Ben Nimmo, chief technology officer and co-founder of online customer experience specialist Orlo 

With technologies like AI and chatbots transforming customer experience, the perceived risk is that they may isolate consumers who require a human interaction. However, not everything that can be automated, should be automated. At the heart of every great consumer experience is a perfect synergy between human empathy and digital engagement.

Simple enquiries such as checking on the status of a delivery are prime candidates for a self-serve chatbot. However, a discrepancy with your bank account requires the reassurance and empathy that only an empathetic, customer service agent can provide. The challenge for brands will be achieving the perfect balance between ruthless efficiency and meaningful engagement.

Make it personal 

Derek O’Carroll, chief executive, Brightpearl

Savvy brands understand that the contemporary consumer demands a strong omnichannel approach where service, experience, and products interact. Seamless cross-channel service for customers is vital and having the right systems in place – both on the front line and operational side – is key to presenting the experience that customers now expect.

While retail didn’t quite crack this in 2018, more brands will begin to make great strides over the next year – the upside is too great to ignore. 43% of purchases are now influenced by personalized recommendations, so getting this right across all channels could have a dramatic impact on purchasing conversion.

However, the ability to provide omnichannel personal service requires access to all data in one place. Having the right technology – so that all areas of your business have access to a single record for every shopper – will allow businesses to gain deeper insights about their customers. This can be used to better serve, engage with, and reward customers on a more personal level. The one sure bet for 2019 is that the customer will remain king. Therefore, retailers must put shoppers at the heart of everything they do.

Image: Fotolia

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