Intelligent Experiences: The Future of the Customer Experience

Innovation at the service of the customer experience

Valentino Pitzolu
Assistant Manager at KPMG Advisory SpA

New technologies are transforming every aspect of the customer experience. KPMG’s recent study “Tomorrow’s Experience, Today”, based on market research carried out in 14 countries, shows that the leading companies in the management of the customer experience are already implementing these new technologies in order to gain competitive advantages.

Today’s pace of innovation is extremely fast, and it is not easy for companies to make clear decisions on what to pursue and with what level of priority. And yet, the technologies, ideas, methods and approaches that – at a certain point in the future – will seem “disruptive” are already here and available. The challenge is to understand how to use them to create a competitive advantage and a superior customer experience.

Our research has revealed that the leading companies in each country have made significant progress in the way they use “future” technologies and approaches to already create unique experiences for their customers today. These companies tend to have four common signs of success:

  • In-depth understanding of the customer’s mindset and developing needs
  • Pioneering spirit towards the discovery and experimentation of new technologies and approaches
  • Ability to orchestrate and connect their partner ecosystem
  • Mastery of the Six Pillars of the Customer Experience

Whether through innovative laboratories, experimentation or advanced ethnographic design, from the study, the brands that proved to offer the best customer experiences were those that are committed to meeting the new needs of their customers with advanced technologies.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, bots, predictive analytics and new digital applications all make up part of the new range of technologies available to companies. Their use to support the customer journey is enabling them to differentiate themselves from the competition in terms of consumer perception.

 

The Intelligent Customer Experience

The use of new technologies in the customer world is focused in particular on the concepts of “intelligent experience” or “intelligent interaction”, where intelligence refers to the ability to learn from existing interactions in order to optimize future ones.

Indeed, once appropriately incorporated into the customer journey, the “Intelligence” enables numerous opportunities to improve the consumer experience, especially in terms of personalization, efficiency and simplicity.

Below are some of the key technologies that are being adopted or tested on the market today: 

  • Mobile: the features made available by mobile technology are increasingly advanced and reliable. For example, some players in the hotel industry have linked mobile technology to hotel systems so as to provide “digital keys” that allow their guests to have a simpler check-in experience. 
  • Data and analytics: these represent a very broad area of interest. Predictive analytics in particular are showing the greatest potential. The recommendations generated by the models developed by Amazon and Netflix, for example, are successful in over 35% of cases. The predictive power of data is becoming fundamental for company personalization strategies. 
  • IA/Cognitive automation: chat robots based on Artificial Intelligence provide customers with an immediate support function. They enable conversations online and via app, SMS and instant messaging. AI is improving decision-making abilities and provides support staff with complex information that is always close to hand. 
  • Voice/Natural language processing (NLP): machine learning provides the ability of machines to recognize, elaborate and use voice commands. Virtual assistants are becoming a lifestyle. USAA has developed its own personal assistant trained to speak about financial services to assist its customers. 
  • Content Intelligence: the result of the application of the abovementioned technologies to the management of content in order to improve the efficiency of marketing campaigns. The data collected on user interests, thanks to the real-time recognition of the content they are benefitting from, are used to enrich those traditionally present in corporate systems (CRM, DMP). In this way, subsequent customer interactions with the brand can be personalized. 
  • IoT: in the near future, there will be billions of connections between devices at home, in the car and in the office. Leading companies are considering how to manage and extract this connectivity (and the avalanche of data that will follow). Furthermore, it will be essential for personal data and information to be protected and “hack proof”. This will be an area of fundamental importance for customers when deciding whether or not to trust a certain organization.

Market leaders are making considerable efforts to understand the strengths and limitations of each technology, and are using these technologies before they become mainstream.

 

Execution: the importance of connecting with the Customer

 

For many companies, the challenge is not necessarily mastering the technology, where they can count on support from their partners, but rather, their own ability to place it at their customers’ service. The greater the knowledge and understanding of their customers, the easier it will be for them to overcome this challenge. This is intended in terms of the availability of accurate, up-to-date and high-quality consumer data integrated with insights on their lifestyles and specific needs.

It is thanks in particular to the correct management of their knowledge ecosystem that leading companies are able to achieve an excellent execution of their customer strategies. In addition, it is not by using these technologies only at the point of contact with the customer that the experience is improved; a widespread use of these technologies in the front, middle and back office is needed to make life easier for the customer.

Tomorrow’s technologies will be quick to enter everyday life. How customers react and co-create new interactions is a vital source of knowledge for organizations focused on the future.