A new study finds that by 2030, most customer engagement will be handled by smart machines.
“Experience 2030: The Future of Customer Experience” by Futurum Research and sponsored by analytics firm SAS, anticipates that 67% of customer engagement between a brand and consumer using digital devices (online, mobile, etc.) will be completed by smart machines rather than the human agents of today. And by 2030, 69% of decisions made during a customer engagement will be completed by smart machines.
Futurum Research surveyed more than 4,000 panelists, spanning three dozen countries across a range of consumer, industry and government sectors.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that there will be a rapid growth in the relationship between humans and machines over the next decade,” said Daniel Newman, principal analyst and founding partner at Futurum Research, who was speaking at the SAS Analytics Experience 2019 in Milan this week.
“Companies will have to strike a delicate balance between providing highly empathic human-like experiences with the instantaneous results that consumers have come to expect. Technology will be the bridge as data, analytics, machine learning and AI will enable machines to deliver this balance in a more humanistic way that satisfies customers and delivers increased efficiencies to the enterprise.”
Consumers embrace emerging tech
Per the study, 78% of brands believe consumers are uneasy dealing with technology today in stores. Yet the study found that only 35% of consumers expressed this unease. This gap between the beliefs of brands and their consumers could be a limiting factor in these brands’ growth if they are not careful.
According to the survey results consumers are expecting to further embrace new technologies by 2030:
- 80% say they expect to accept delivery of a product by drone or autonomous vehicle.
- 81% say they expect to engage with chatbots.
- 78% expect to use an augmented, virtual, or mixed reality app to see how a product will look – such as how a piece of clothing might look on a shopper or how a piece of furniture might look in a home.
- 56% expect to be “visiting” remote locations or experiencing vacation and entertainment events through mixed reality devices by 2025.
- 8 out of 10 expect to use a smart assistant (such as Google Home, Amazon Alexa, etc.) to make an online purchase or control a smart home.
- 78% say they expect they’ll be controlling other devices with their wearables.
Emerging tech will underpin brand success
The research asked brands what “futuristic” technologies they are investing in today to attract new customer experiences and increase customer satisfaction by 2030.
Per the study, 62% of brands are investing in voice-based AI assistants to improve customer engagement strategies and as a customer support asset. Another 58% are investing in voice-based AI as an internal marketing and sales asset.
For augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), 54% of brands are investing in it to help consumers visualize the look or use of a product or service remotely. And 53% of brands are pursuing AR/VR tools to improve product use and self-help.
The study also found that 83% of brands are investing or plan to invest in holographic technology for in-store advertising, interactive gaming and public events.
All these emerging and more complex customer engagement technologies mean that brands must re-think their data management proficiency, analytical optimization processes and automated decision making capabilities. They must be able to use these new technologies to achieve tangible business outcomes.
These new applications will be capable of ingesting, processing, analyzing, designing and deciding how to deliver multi-moment marketing that will continue to resonate into the future.
Loyalty drivers in 2030
Today 58% of brands cite high quality as the top factor likely to drive consumer loyalty, but most consumers cite low costs or discounts as their top driver. But by 2030, consumers cite mobile apps, high-speed access and ordering via smart home systems as the top three technologies driving loyalty.
Brands agree, and believe that AI, machine learning and predictive analytics will play a large role too. Brands are looking at 2030 as an opportunity to use technology to both provide smooth engagement and the intelligence behind the engagement, needed to deliver deeper, more meaningful customer relationships and increased loyalty.
“Building loyalty is a critical component for brand growth, and over the next 10 years we will see increased nuance and complexity beyond the traditional price, quality and service matrix that has long stood at the core of loyalty propositions,” said Newman.
“In the future, the way companies embrace technology, drive speed to market (and consumer) and deliver and measure social impact will all play a bigger role in loyalty. This is already starting to happen today, and its importance will multiply by 2030.”
The evolving importance of trust
Perhaps the biggest challenge for brands today, is the ability to overcome the trust gap that exists between brands and consumers, said Newman.
Consumers are wary of how brands treat their personal data and feel powerless to change it. Only 54% of consumers trust brands to keep their data private, he said.
Nearly three quarters (75%) of consumers believe the use of their personal data is “out of control”. This is a challenge for brands as a result of richness of the user data they collect with the trust concerns of the consumer.