Photography for Striata in May 2015 by Jeremy Glyn.

Hyper everything: how tech integration is changing customer communication

By Michael Wright, CEO, Striata 

Rafts of new technologies, many of which are easily integrated into existing channels, are changing the way organisations communicate with their customers.

Chatbots, voice integration, and dynamic (hyper-personalised) content, amongst others are at the forefront of this evolution. But organisations cannot simply implement these technologies and expect dramatic improvements in their customer communication efforts.

Instead, they have to ensure that any new technologies are utilised in line with the broader goals of customer communication; that is, making communication as valuable to the customer as possible.

AI and meeting customer needs

With any form of customer communication, the aim should always be to move with the customer through their stages of life and offer the customer appropriate services at each stage.

So, for example, in the insurance world, a customer may start with renter's insurance as a single person and move to homeowner’s insurance, car insurance and life insurance as their personal circumstances change.

Here, artificial intelligence (AI) has an important role to play. In the customer communication space especially, AI-based systems are useful for predicting user behaviour and providing content based on that prediction to prompt the user’s next action.

Organisations are already seeing the value AI provides in this regard, integrating it into  emailbilling, and mobile payments, all of which contain forms of customer communication.

AI is also driving the use of chatbots, which appear on websites and instant messaging services, as automated virtual assistants.

Not only are chatbots useful for customer service, but also for invoicing and payment collections.

The rise of voice 

But good customer communication isn’t just about baking new technologies into existing channels; it also means embracing the technologies your customers are actually using.

One example of this is voice recognition.

By 2020, Gartner predicts that 30% of web browsing will occur without a screen. And 55% of American teenagers will use speech recognition, daily.

It’s only natural, therefore, that customers will want to interact with organisations via voice. Any organisation that invests in integrating voice technology into its customer communications now stands to give itself that extra edge over its competitors.

Micro-segmentation and hyper-personalisation 

If an organisation is going to integrate these technologies successfully, it needs to ensure that it couples them with real-time data to deliver more relevant content, product and service information to each user.

The more information an organisation has on each customer, the more meaningful and valuable its communication will be.

This use of data is broadly referred to as hyper-personalisation and micro-segmentation. It means being able to provide content that is relevant on the day / month / life stage of that customer. It allows the company to provide information that improves the customer experience due to the very personal nature of the content.

Moreover, hyper-personalisation is proven to build loyalty and trust that ultimately makes customers more profitable.

A dual approach

Putting the customer back in the centre of customer communication requires more than technology alone. Like the human-centred design approach (putting the customer at the core of the product design process), communication design should be too.

Asking customers directly what content they want to receive, when and how, is invaluable to the design process. This dual approach enables the organisation to combine preference and engagement data (technology), with input obtained directly from the people best suited to design the process: customers and employees (humans).

By taking this integrated approach, organisations can ensure that they provide customers with the kind of communication they need and want.

 

Michael Wright launched Striata in 1999.  A Chartered Accountant by profession, he started his career at PwC where he was responsible for Internet Strategy & Services and Business Information Services. He was the founder of the South African chapter of First Tuesday, the “Global Thought Leadership Network”

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