3 Trends Transforming Customer Communications

Most of the time, companies will succeed or fail based on the strength of their customer relationships. There are many ways to build loyal and lasting customer connections. Online interaction via chatbot or email is one. In-person and phone conversations are others. And since customers all have their own preferences, it's up to companies to figure out how to best reach their audiences.

Regardless of the method, customer communication is critical. With this in mind, here's a look at three trends altering the ways these conversations take place.

New tech is unifying and scaling customer comms.

The increasing adoption of new technology allows companies to more effectively communicate with customers. Chatbots and voice assistants will soon become the new norm for customer communications. They'll help companies cut costs and bring a new level of automation and ease of use to the way customers stay informed. In fact, according to Juniper Research, the use of chatbots will help companies save more than $8 billion annually by 2022, up from $20 million in 2017.

Organizations are also taking advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance their capacity to better personalize customer communications. While previously customer data profiles were basic and limited at best, AI can analyze customers' multichannel interactions by segmenting data to create a new level of personalization based on preferences, behaviors, and actions. Leveraging data-based customer profiles allows organizations to focus two-way communications specific to individuals' desires.

Merging this tech alongside already ubiquitous communication channels like social, mobile, and email will create a new, all-encompassing status quo for customers. But relying on each of these channels without a unifying force to manage and control the message of communications can be chaotic. This is why cloud integration has been imperative for more effective dissemination and engagement. The cloud both centralizes multichannel communications and allows companies to streamline document template consistency, individual customer security, and compliance across every channel at once. Each of these technologies working in sync offer organizations a new and efficient way to digitize legacy systems and documents to cater to the modern standards of how customers want to receive their communications.

Personalization is table stakes.

More and more, today's customers are getting used to hyper-personalized communication experiences. Forty-eight percent of consumers across all industries actually expect specialized treatment or communications for being loyal customers. So to deliver, companies must find new ways to make their customer interactions more personal. After all, 89 percent of businesses believe that customer service sets them apart from their competitors. And the success of a company begins with its customer experience.

For companies in highly-regulated, compliance-based industries, such as financial services, insurance, and healthcare, the first step to ensure the best customer experience possible is to define and understand each individual and act accordingly. The way a company goes about this will differ depending on the industry. Delivering personalized content based on previous interactions is ideal. Once again, technology becomes an invaluable resource. With machine learning, organizations can learn how specific communications should be presented, as well as where and to whom they should be delivered. Legacy systems have only allowed companies to have the most basic customer information on-hand, such as name, gender and location. But emerging channels, coupled with data, will allow new levels of personalization that encompass customer intent and communication preferences from a wealth of intelligence derived from that data. As CCM looks to transition less tech-savvy organizations from legacy systems, the ability to collect, segment, source, and understand customer data at the drop of a dime is a game-changer. Increased personalization through digitization is no longer a nice to have for organizations looking to refine the ways they communicate with their customers (and ultimately retain them). It's the latest standard.

Compliance is key.

Today, digitization is becoming increasingly prevalent among companies in a wide range of industries. And companies are seeing its benefits. A study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that digitization will lower costs by 3.6 percent and boost revenues by 2.9 percent per year through 2020. However, digitization also makes compliance more difficult because of the sheer number of communication channels that are opened up as a result. All channels, whether social media, chatbots, or anything else, have their own rules. They must be carefully managed to ensure that every communication sent across them is regulation-friendly and delivers sensitive information to customers securely, without the potential to compromise sensitive data. This is especially true for the healthcare industry. Until devices become Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant, healthcare organizations aren't able to harness the true potential of emerging technologies like voice assistants. As more channels and platforms for delivering customer communications emerge, so will the prerequisites for careful compliance and security.

To bring customer communications and conversations wholly into the 21st century, organizations will need to be vigilant about compliance within new channels and technologies and adaptable to the evolving conditions for remaining so.

Looking ahead, customers will continue to desire more intimate communication. And a thorough understanding of emerging technologies and new digital channels will help companies satisfy these needs.

James Brown is CEO of Smart Communications. He has more than 25 years of software experience. As founder and CEO of Zinc Ahead, he grew the company into a leading provider of commercial content management solutions. It provided marketing compliance solutions for more than 100 of the largest pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology firms worldwide. Following Zinc Ahead's acquisition by Veeva, he served as vice president and general manager of the company's commercial content division. Most recently, Brown served as an entrepreneur advisor at Accel-KKR, where he worked on new investment opportunities and consulted with a number of companies across the portfolio.

Related Articles

Chatbots have a big role to play in the future of customer service, and Google knows it. Earlier this week, the company acquired Onward, a start-up whose primary product is an chat tool for businesses.

Posted October 05, 2018