We are very excited about how advancements in technology can take customer experience to the next level. Here is our take on what can – and will – be done in the next couple of years. Businesses are constantly thinking of ways to provide a better experience to their customers. The broader goal, of course, is to engage customers – and keep them engaged. In a macro sense, engagement means stickiness, loyalty and advocacy – which translate into repeat business and even referrals. In a micro sense, engagement is about starting a conversation with the customer, listening deeply to the verbal as well as non-verbal responses, and drawing the right insights into what the real needs and wants are. Chinese gem traders were known to be sensitive even to buyers’ pupil dilation!
In the digital world however, while the “transaction“ part of many processes has been automated, the “relationship“ part is often diluted. A case in point is the common frustration with never-ending IVR menus – while the caller would be so much more comfortable talking to a real person. Similarly, digital strategists must bear in mind that in the consumer space, shopping is not just a commercial process but equally a social experience. Breakthroughs in emotion detection technologies are now letting us correct this irony to an extent. Just like we can read body language, these technologies allow software to now understand whether the customer is happy, confused, interested and so on. Consider how such advances can enhance responsiveness in virtual (online) interactions as well as in real ones —
Education: If a student in an online course is confused, the software can step back and spend more time on elementary concepts. If a student is tired, it could announce a break. If bored, it could take a real problem rather than continue with dry theory. Brick-and-mortar schools could also use such technologies to gauge the overall engagement level of a class.
Corporate: Decades ago, time and motion studies started helping predict and improve productivity in manufacturing industries. More recently, special software products are letting enterprises understand how their employees are spending time in knowledge industries. However, this is of limited use, since a couple of hours of “being in the zone” produce more than 8 hours of disengaged work. So it would be much more useful to use technology that tracks engagement.
- Shopping: It is well known that online advertising hooks into browsing behavior, particularly on e-commerce sites. However, such advertising can be targeted even better, by distinguishing between casual online window shopping, and serious pre-shopping analysis. Going ahead, it might even be possible to adjust promotions accordingly – a la Chinese traders!
- Wellness: Awareness is usually the first and often the most difficult step in stress and anger management. What if our smart-phone becomes a silent observer who gently nudges us when we’re starting to stress. Similarly, it can highlight chronic boredom, which is often a precursor of depression.
We at Pratiti are excited about these new possibilities to humanize technology, and thus take engagement and experience to the next level. Let us know what you think.