In this second article in our series of customer experience (CX) trends, we’ll continue observing the top technologies CX leaders plan to incorporate into their activities in 2018. First, let’s take a look at the chart below to observe these top technologies that were also highlighted in our previous post.

Figure 1: A Close Look into Current & Planned CX Technology Adoption

Chat Bots: The technology with the third-highest rank in planned adoption is chat bots. Aberdeen defines chat bots (also referred to as ‘bots’) as technology tools serving as digital employees that help firms handle a variety of customer needs, including helping customers generate a quote for a new product on the company website and responding to client inquiries for services such as password resets or checking account balances.

Chat bot conversations can use voice and text. As such, they might take place through the web, mobile applications, social media (e.g., Facebook Messenger), text messaging, and connected devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. The findings from Aberdeen’s October 2017 Chat Bots in Customer Experience: The Modern Way to Sell More & Serve Better study shows that 23% of firms currently use this technology. Figure 1 shows that 28% of firms have plans to consider incorporating it within their CX technology toolbox in 2018 and beyond. We recommend firms planning to deploy a chat bot to first consider the primary goal and use cases. Without a clear plan, a bot will likely frustrate customers by offering another touch-point that might not address their needs. See Aberdeen’s related study to learn how successful firms using chat bots achieve desired results.

Social Media Monitoring, Web Analytics, Unified Agent Desktop, Text analytics, Contact Center and CRM integration: These technologies share the fourth spot for highest planned technology adoption in 2018. Each of them provide unique benefits. Social media monitoring allows firms to monitor customer-generated social media content such as Facebook posts and Tweets automatically based on certain filters set by the company. Web analytics allows organizations to observe web visitation data to learn how website visitors consume content, how much time they spend on specific websites, etc. This data allows marketers to better design and manage web experiences.

Unified agent desktop tools allow agents to easily access multiple enterprise systems through a single application / agent desktop. In turn, this decreases unnecessary time agents spend navigating multiple applications to do their job.

Text analytics helps organizations gauge customer sentiment by identifying common words used in text interactions such as agent notes and live chats, and determining the context of the interactions. Contact center and CRM integration allows firms to easily access customer data stored within the CRM systems through contact center systems such as the agent desktop.

The common element across these five technologies is that they are not newcomers to the CX technology landscape. In fact, many (e.g. web analytics and unified agent desktop) have been available for more than a decade. The high planned adoption rates for these technologies signal that companies are now becoming more mature in understanding that these are not ‘nice-to-have,’ but ‘must-have’ tools to successfully manage the various elements of CX programs.

Voice biometrics: This technology is increasingly becoming popular, largely due to the increasing number of high-profile customer data protection issues experienced by firms such as Experian, Target, Sony and others over the past several years. Voice biometrics allows companies to authenticate customers by using voice, instead of methods such as a password or identification number. Specifically, customers can be asked to repeat a specific phrase or set of phrases that the company would then capture / record. The next time the customer calls, the customer’s voice in the current interactions would be analyzed using the original recording to authenticate. This process can also be executed without requiring the customers to repeat specific phrases, but rather automatically analyzing the voice biometric data during a call and using it in future conversations for authentication.

Use of voice biometrics helps firms use a natural element of customer conversations – voice – as a method of authentication, therefore decreasing customer effort since callers won’t need to remember yet another password or disclose sensitive information. It also enhances security for both companies and customers by minimizing the risk of third-parties to access sensitive insights, such as home addresses, or make changes on the customer’s behalf, such as transferring funds from bank accounts. Such increased security provides firms a method of differentiation in CX programs. Specifically, they can highlight their focus on protecting customer data privacy as a differentiator on why buyers should work with their business instead of competitors.