Customer Experience (CX) has become an important topic for IT companies in recent years. Technology that helped customers used to be restricted to little more than Point-Of-Sale (POS) systems in retail stores, but now there is an enormous industry focused on CX and technology underpins most of these services. For example:
- CRM; Customer Relationship Management systems are increasing automated and help brands build a better relationship with their customers by having a better understanding of customer needs.
- ERP; Enterprise Resource Planning has become increasingly important as complex supply chains need products to be delivered just-in-time to the right place.
- RPA; Robotic Process Automation is allowing companies to automate large groups of processes – especially in the back office.
- Contact centres; the traditional link between brands and customers is increasingly complex now that omnichannel service is becoming a customer expectation.
- Data analytics; Big Data and expertise in studying customer behaviour is becoming an important way for brands to personalise the service they deliver.
- AI; Artificial Intelligence is helping many brands to predict what customers will want, either to help improve the supply chain or to create a more personal service.
- VR and AR; Many brands are exploring how Virtual and Augmented Reality can help customers locate more detailed information on their products.
This is just a short an immediate list, but the implication is clear. The customer to brand relationship is far more complex than ever before and it is increasingly these technology systems that are providing the ammunition for brands to improve their customer experience. IT service companies and advisors need to be increasingly aware of how important their role now is in creating a great experience for customers.
Many of these technological changes are helping smaller specialist companies to compete with the major players. Look at the Facebook Messenger and it’s automated bot system for one good example. Even a very small brand can configure the system to offer 24/7 customer support using automated bots – something that would have been unthinkable for a small company to offer just a couple of years ago.
Several major technology systems, such as CRM and ERP, have driven large parts of the technology industry in the past, but I believe that now the main driver is CX. Customer expectations on brands are increasing constantly, leading major companies to explore how they can deliver a better service than their competition. Likewise, many of these technologies are moving from just being used by early adopters to being more universally accepted – look at how Ikea now allows customers to view furniture using an AR system before purchasing.
The message is clear for IT experts – CX is going to drive your business for the next decade. Make sure you are tuned into what the CX experts are saying and what the upcoming CX trends are going to be, because many of them need IT expertise and that will not come directly from companies with experience of customer service.