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Everything from the past few years seems like a long string of memorable events, and not exactly the good type – no wonder a whole generation is now joking about being in a continuous state of living through historical events. To top it all off, we are now witnessing the genesis of a technology that has the potential to turn our world upside down (even more so than it already is). AI is all over the place and, unsurprisingly, it’s also mentioned alongside the hot topics in the Customer Success and Customer Experience domains. Today, let’s explore a few of the customer experience analytics trends that everyone is (or should be) talking about: tools that harness direct customer interaction, AI, Machine Learning, and more!
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Customer experience is a term that has gained significant importance in recent years, as businesses steadily realize the value of providing a seamless, positive experience for their customers. At its core, customer experience is all about how a customer interacts with a product or service and how that interaction makes them feel. It encompasses everything from the initial point of contact to post-purchase follow-up and every touchpoint in between. In this process, the leading effort is empathizing with the customer.
Customer Experience Analytics (CX analytics) takes this idea one step further by collecting and analyzing data on customer interactions to identify any areas of friction or gaps in the experience. The goal is to boost product growth and minimize customer churn by improving customer retention and loyalty.
CX analytics provides valuable customer insights for product managers, allowing them to identify bottlenecks in the customer journey and remove them while making data-driven decisions on product improvements. For product marketers, CX data can be used to create better strategies to boost initial customer engagement and attract relevant prospects. And for customer service teams, CX analytics can help improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
So, the answer is yes, you should care – and big time, as this might soon prove to be the big differentiator between successful and unsuccessful businesses.
A typical approach to discussing CX analytics is to outline the basic goals and KPIs that underlie a successful customer experience strategy. Instead, today we will focus on thinking one step ahead – and provide a glimpse into what lies in the near future.
Before diving into the main course of this article, it’s important to understand the broader trends shaping the industry. In recent years, there have been several key developments that are driving changes in the way businesses approach customer experience.
So, how do we define the current state of affairs in the Customer Experience industry? Confused? Stagnant? Driven by inequality of resources? We’d like to believe it is full of opportunities.
Without further ado – let’s focus on today’s hot topic. We’ve selected three of the trends we are most excited about in the domain of CX. While this list is in no way comprehensive, it will give you an idea of what the present (and near future) of the industry looks like.
Co-browsing is one of those things that few people know about – but those who do might want to keep it a secret. And no surprise there, as it can provide a competitive edge that few other customer experience analytics tools can.
Collaborative browsing is when two people navigate the same page at the same time. This provides an experience during which both participants see what the other person is doing – typing text, moving their mouse around, clicking, etc. In the context of customer experience, co-browsing provides an easy way for CX agents to onboard new customers, show them how to use new features, and glean insights into how users interact with the product in real time. This valuable qualitative CX data is nowhere near anything else in the industry – except for user testing in lab conditions which is prohibitively expensive for smaller businesses.
So, how does co-browsing differ from screen sharing, you ask? Well, for one thing, no one has to download anything. Co-browsing operates on the product level and no sophisticated setup is required. You can literally invite a customer on a co-browsing session and initiate it immediately. It’s also synchronous.
Unlike screen sharing, it allows both participants to interact with the page simultaneously. And finally, it is more secure. With screen sharing, you give permission to the other participant to take over your entire user interface, while with co-browsing, it is restricted to a specific page. What’s more, co-browsing allows a takeover to happen only upon explicit consent.
As mentioned, co-browsing offers exciting new opportunities to enhance the onboarding process by way of an interactive tutorial or feature walkthrough. We know that people learn best when they do (as opposed to only watching or reading) – and with co-browsing, that can happen in real time. It can also provide a great way to offer immediate support to customers – for example, navigate complex UIs, offer to fill out forms, or review and edit settings in real time. You know, the kind of bottlenecks that usually require three emails and a call.
For sales, co-browsing offers an immersive demo experience that can quickly showcase the value of the product in a way that will speak directly to the customer. And for product managers, it can be a great tool to gather customer feedback and validate assumptions about customer behavior.
Well, you saw that one coming. It’s been a long time since the first big brand names started using data to optimize their customer experience – both online and offline. They could afford it, after all. Collecting data from various data sources (shopfloors, call centres, social media, chats, etc.) resulted in massives that needed a dedicated data analyst team (even teams) which were expensive.
With machine learning on the horizon, they quickly spotted the competitive edge of gathering even more CX data – the more, the better. Now, this has become somewhat tricky – more and more users are questioning the status quo on data collection, and the legislation surrounding privacy is becoming increasingly tighter (as it should be). Still, there will always be a treasure trove of data for brands that embrace a customer-centric, data-driven approach from day 1. How they treat it will most likely change, though.
AI comes at the crossroads of this divisive debate. Should companies use their data to train personalization algorithms to enhance their customer journeys? They’re already doing it. Should companies use data to feed machine learning that provides business insights? They’re already doing it. Should companies train AI to take over the Customer Experience department? Well, they’re already kind of doing it. At least some are. For the time being, AI is not advanced enough to substitute higher-level sales and support operations, but bots are doing pretty well with basic requests. Our guess is that they will become even better, quickly.
Other areas where AI can help include 24/7 support even for smaller teams, reduction of errors (typos), highly personalized messages, anticipation of potential customer needs, less employee burnout, etc.
It’s still an expensive and unpredictable area to tackle properly, but AI will certainly play a major role in CX operations. On the Customer Experience Analytics side, it is already being used to dredge vast amounts of customer data to spot trends in usability, do the good old sentiment analysis, or provide a link between silos in terms of actionable data insights.
We are now treading on the borderline between what can be a reality that sets in – or a hype that fades away. Meta’s somewhat botched Metaverse launch showed us that this technology is still far away from being usable at scale. But brands like Gucci and Spotify quickly jumped on the bandwagon and CX teams saw the opportunities that AR and VR offer to treat customer pain points – and delight them continuously afterward.
Will CX teams embrace this trend fully? Are we going to see an uptick in VR and AR experiences soon? Will this be the new digital experience? Who knows, for the time being only brands with exorbitant budgets can afford to do it at scale, and it’s far from perfect too. Great customer experiences begin with empathy and if we can manage to find a way to use this technology to empathize better with users – then it will certainly become a vital part of the customer experience stack, improving customer engagement and ultimately – business outcomes.
If these things already sound like something from a Sci-Fi movie, we bet that in the next decade, we will go beyond that. The speed at which technology evolves will make CX a true battleground for capturing and retaining an increasingly less loyal customer base. So, as ironic as it may sound, in order to become better at being human, we will need to use technology.
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