In the final post of our three-part series, we’ll cover the three technologies which CX leaders plan to increase their adoption of in 2019. If you missed our prior two posts, the first observed the benefits and use cases of the top three technologies CX leaders plan to adopt in 2019. The second was a follow-up to the first, in which we observed the benefits and use cases of the technologies that rank at the top fourth to seventh places for planned adoption. For reference, you can see all of these technologies and their current and planned adoption rates in Figure 1 below:

Figure 1: Top 10 Technologies CX Leaders Plan to Adopt in 2019

Before we observe the benefits and use cases of the last three technologies, we’d like to note why the insights from the above chart and throughout this blog series are so important. The end of the year is a time when CX leaders often evaluate their activities and try to keep up with the trends and best practices that they wish to incorporate into their 2019 programs. While there is an abundance of helpful content to help CX leaders do so, there is also an abundance of content (e.g., articles, videos and webinars) created by self-proclaimed experts.

It is that uninformed advice — that’s not grounded on data, but rather on gut-feel or hearsay — that creates hype in the marketplace. If you’re in the process of evaluating and designing your 2019 CX strategy, we highly recommend that you avoid such hype and rather focus on best practices that deliver results for your peers. The first two articles in this blog series covered how the first seven of the top 10 CX technologies influence company performance. Let’s now take a closer look into the remaining three to learn how they help transform CX programs to help firms achieve their goals:

Customer sentiment intelligence: This is the era of the empowered customer. Companies can no longer solely rely on a better product, a wider distribution network, etc. to set themselves apart. They must truly stay in tune with customer needs and exceed buyer expectations to establish and maintain a competitive position in the market. Customer sentiment intelligence refers to a set of technologies companies use to track and measure customer sentiment. These tools include voice of the customer solutions, which provide companies the ability to ask customers to share their sentiment through an online survey, an interactive voice response (IVR), or a text message survey.

Other tools CX leaders use to gauge customer sentiment include speech analytics and text analytics. The former helps companies analyze phone and IVR conversations and monitor whether customers use words associated with satisfaction (e.g., happy) or dissatisfaction (frustrating). Text analytics helps companies analyze text such as a social media posts by a customer, or a live chat conversation transcript, and determine if the conversation includes any words associated with satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

Once companies capture customer sentiment, this data can be analyzed with the help of machine learning to determine the root-causes (activities) that most closely correlate with creating happy customers and those that correlate with dissatisfaction. This in turn helps CX leaders repeat activities that create happy buyers and avoid ones that don’t.

Live chat: Similar to knowledge management, live chat is another technology that’s been utilized by CX leaders for a long time now. Traditionally, companies have used live chat to answer customer questions via their website. These answers can be provided by live agents. They can also be provided by virtual assistants (chat bots) that can analyze the chat transcript through text analytics, determine the context of the issue, and find the right knowledgebase article or information (e.g., password reset URL) to respond to the client’s needs.

Live chat can be used by companies with both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) models. The growing appetite for incorporating live chat within the CX technology toolbox is largely related to these activities getting smarter. Specifically, machine learning helps companies better analyze historical chat transcripts and related customer behavioral data, such as if a client using chat then contacted the business through phone for support for an unresolved issue. Those insights help companies continuously improve live chat activities such that customers see greater value in them, and hence use them more often.

The growing number of use cases of chat bots for both service and sales also influences CX leaders interested in incorporating this technology into their toolbox. While chat interactions managed by agents versus bots are different, from a customer perspective, they both fall into the category of chat. As such, we recommend you determine if your current and potential customers prefer using chat to interact with your business, as well as the most common types of issues / questions current and potential chat users need addressed. While chat bots are capable of addressing rather simple issues such as providing account balances or sharing updated flight times, they aren’t sophisticated enough to handle complex issues such as erroneous billing. We recommend using chat bots / virtual assistants to handle simple customer issues, and routing more complex ones to agents.

Customer self-service tools: Coincidentally, an equal percentage of CX leaders cited self-service tools and live chat as technologies they plan to incorporate into their toolbox in 2019. Self-service tools cover a variety of technologies, including chat bots (voice- and text-based), self-service websites, and mobile applications. The common aspect across all these tools is that they are designed to help customers help themselves.

Companies currently using or planning to use self-service should keep in mind that customers prefer to address their needs themselves mostly when they find it more convenient to do so. Thus, they may be more willing to use self-service for simple activities, such as making a bill payment or changing account settings. When confronted with a more complex issue, such as structuring an investment portfolio for a wealth management client, customers often prefer to interact with a human.

As such, we highly recommend that you consider incorporating various forms of self-service into your CX activities. However, maintain a journey-centric mindset where you closely track the customer journey and route, or recommend the customer to use self-service for simple issues and handle complex ones through agent assistance. This will help you maximize the benefits of self-service while minimizing potential customer frustration due to poorly designed and executed self-service activities.

This post brings us to the end of our three-part series. I hope you found the insights helpful and actionable, and that the fact-based insights shared through our blogs help you accomplish your goals in 2019 and beyond. Stay tuned for regular updates on our research to keep track of the evolving trends and best practices in the CX market throughout the new year.

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