In this article, we will look at the top emerging trends around innovation, disruptive technology and immersive CX to help give an overview of the hot topics being discussed by the modern day CMO.
In an era where instant gratification across all ages has become a common fix, consumer behaviour requires an immediate hyper personalised Customer Experience(CX) across all channels. All touch points in the customer journey, be it physical or digital, leave a trace. This trace needs to be unified to form a single customer profile. Despite their differences in opinion CMOs and CIOs are aligned on one thing; businesses need to leverage new disruptive technologies, focus on increasing customer satisfaction by providing a seamless CX.
New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Chatbots, immersive technologies (VR/AR), Internet of Things (IOT) are now at the forefront of digital transformation which is a game changer in terms of CX and digital innovation.
AI’s growth continues to accelerate and improve efficiency, streamline operations, improve business processes and personalise CX to another level. AI is being used to increase customer satisfaction at every stage of the customer journey. When it comes to customer service issues, all the new self-service B2B portals are usually powered by AI plug-ins. This aids the customer to make speedy decisions and reduces customer effort in the tedious process of logging complaints. The AI agent has the ability to divert the call towards human intelligence at any point if the customer asks for human help. As AI continues to become more sophisticated we will get an increasing insight into customer behaviours at each stage. With better insight, it will lead to an increase in customer satisfaction.
Innovators and the digitally savvy CMO are looking at new ways to incorporate AI in their service, sales, commerce and data strategies to support cutting edge marketing campaigns. In the long term, AI will become the welcoming face of data-driven strategy and customer-facing experiences.
According to Statistics MRC, Machine Learning as a Service (MLaaS) market by 2023 is expected to grow to $7.6 billion.Machine learning has a huge range of applications. Particularly in marketing, it can utilise available data to analyse underlying patterns. These patterns help in specifying buyer personas and giving them customised offers in the future.Marketing frameworks are then created and revamped according to the customer preferences learnt through ML. Even product innovation and feature modification can be conducted with the help of findings done by the machine. Hyper-personalisation is a big aim for companies these days. This is made easy through ML as it unveils the underlying pattern through the use of data created at each customer touchpoint.
ML resources are limited in the market and algorithms are not easy to define and utilise hence patience is needed in ML-related projects. Businesses like Twitter and Survey Monkey are just some of the names using Sentiment analysis ( a form of machine learning) in their current service offerings, however, the ability to use ML as an impactful and more in-depth tool for providing a better customer journey is one of the main focuses for the modern CMO.
There is a huge increase in data that is accumulated through various sources and channels these days. Unfortunately, some organisations don’t use this data to their advantage. This Big Data is being collected with the consent or awareness of the customer as per the new GDPR regulations. If utilised this Big Data can be analysed to provide greater insight into customers behaviours. This is then used to give extremely personalised offers and loyalty programs.
The CMO nowadays is using Big Data to pull away from competitors. We are seeing Big Data used in a variety of innovative ways. Companies now have the ability to assess and enhance their CRM to provide greater benefit to the organization based on Big Data analytics, they can also see how consumers mood shifts towards a brand and preempt falloff. We can even use data to help lower the cost of customer acquisitions, define customers value over their lifetime and optimise the sales cycle. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how Big Data can shape our view of customers, on a Marco and Micro level, let alone across our own business processes.
Internet of Things (IOT) helps in combining digital platforms and real-life channels. IOT adds value to the customer journey and streamlines operations to lower costs. Effective promotional campaigns are launched across different platforms by analysing the relationship between the real world and digital interactions established through the IOT. This gives a singular view of the customer and improves CX significantly. In the B2B machinery industry, IOT is transforming the CX. Lenders or manufacturers in the machinery industry can now analyse the use of their heavy machinery directly. IOT devices are attached to the machinery sending customer pattern data back to the manufacturer or lender. The automotive industry is also taking advantage of IOT. As connected cars become more common, we can now gauge consumer preferences in real time to give greater insight.
Immersive technologies including virtual & augmented reality give customers a close, real-life experience of the product or service. In the fast-paced business environment of today, customers don’t necessarily want to put time into testing the product or service personally. A live demo in the form of AR or VR experience gives them a chance to experience the product or service before buying. Progressive companies such as Audi and BMW are investing heavily in this customisation. Giving their clients the room to personalise their vehicles and view features of the cars through their virtual showrooms.
Immersive Technology is a tricky tool, marketers need to think creatively and find ways to involve immersive experiences in their funnel. There is no lack of enthusiasm towards this tred but implementing these real experiences can be more difficult than it sounds. For the most part, we see Retailers as the early adopters of VR and AR, however, industries like the Automotive and Agriculture are incorporating these tools to deliver demo/showcase style experiences which are providing one-of-a-kind impactful customer journeys.
Self-service customer portals are now preferred by most customers as it saves them time and gives them more control over the interaction. Chatbots are becoming increasingly sophisticated and even dispense financial advice. They help eliminate several steps such as manual identity verification and save time by avoiding call transfers. The customer journey becomes smoother giving customers a more efficient CX.
The CMO is making good use of chatbots in a number of ways, not only are they using the bots to take over the FAQ, complaints, services and qualifying of leads for sales, but bots are being leveraged to create gamified queries, run polls, promotions and in many cases are able to work within your social accounts providing a closer connection and more personalised feel for the customer. We are no longer in the world of stiff robots but humanised, smart, fun bots that can keep audiences engaged and interested.
There is a high demand for premium marketing campaigns. Discounts or a commission is given when someone registers or does a transaction through their reference. In the B2B industry, it is a great way to incentivise existing users to refer to your marketplace or portal. Where transactions are often high in value and a reference discount or commission would be of a substantial amount.
The use of affiliate programs is nothing new for B2C marketers but in the B2B vertical, specifically e-commerce portals and B2B direct marketplaces the demand is growing and adoption has just really started to accelerate. We see Affiliate programs as an catalyst to creating more value and a higher engagement rate across these platforms. B2B marketers and CMOs’ are using Affiliate programs to deliver great value and provide a professional experience for business looking to leverage discounts, gain a larger audience or provide promotions to a specific service/product.
Although AI, IOT, ML and immersive technologies are changing the landscape of CX. We still need some degree of human interaction to make the entire customer journey more personalised. Advancement in these disruptive technologies sees a utilisation of data to gain greater customer insights. Even if there might be a slight disagreement over how humanised or automated the CX should be, the degree to which these technologies should be used is up for debate. The fact remains that these technologies are pivotal in improving customers journey and enhancing customer satisfaction.
The modern-day CMO is disrupting the marketplace with emerging technologies and innovative ideas. The more creative & digitally savvy marketers can be, the more they will gain a competitive edge and create truly impactful strategies that shake the foundation of the late majority. Early adoption seems to be the key to victory and leveraging the automation of tasks will be the key to stay nimble, lean and dynamic. As we continue to innovate and technology becomes more advanced, it has become a battle to stay ahead of competitors, not only for CMO’s but for business as a whole.