As customer experience (CX) becomes increasingly tech-driven, more brands are now providing highly personalised ‘digital experiences’. Platforms linked to sophisticated AI – or artificial intelligence – are driving this innovation, according to a recent report on CX trends from the customer reviews platform Feefo.

Chatbots, for example, are becoming far more ‘intelligent’, using sentimental and contextual analysis to deliver more customised responses. This is possible as comprehensive data gathering, analytics and cleansing enable businesses to be customer-centric as never before. In fact, the market for AI and chatbot technology, led by innovative e-commerce brands, could be worth £6.8 billion by 2024.

First-party data is key in today’s consumer markets. Businesses can now offer individually tailored customer experiences, thanks to consumers generating personal data from advanced product usage, including home device automation, connected vehicles, and wearable devices such as smartwatches.

In the report, CX experts refer to several companies that have used data science to inform their customer offerings. ITV conducted mass research to personalise user experience of its on-demand and catch-up television platform, ITV Hub. When rolling out its primary COVID-19 vaccination testing programme, Johnson & Johnson used data science to help decide where to test vaccines, and estimate how many employees to deploy at its various vaccination sites.

Another AI-driven trend that will become more commonplace in 2022 and beyond is the incorporation of digital applications into in-store environments as described in a Forbes report on CX trends for 2022. Digital voice assistants are being seen more frequently. In a supermarket, For example, we might ask Alexa to tell us where to find the laundry detergent.

The report also describes data-driven, personalised customer experiences that are becoming even more adapted to individual needs and demands, through ‘hyper-personalisation’. Netflix, for example, estimates that some 80% of customers’ viewing choices are a result of recommendations based on videos the viewer has previously watched, with only 20% of viewers opting to conduct their own search on the site.

Nike has succeeded in offering one-to-one personalised experiences with its Nike By You service, which gives customers an opportunity to customise their trainers. It’s been reported that this experience gives customers higher personal satisfaction and a greater sense of ownership. John Lamphiere, Regional Vice President of marketing firm ActiveCampaign said: ‘We will see more companies going a step further to delight customers in 2022 and create super fans.’

Customers can expect more hyper-personalisation in the future, as tech becomes more sophisticated. There must, however, be a careful balance between sophisticated utilisation of data for personalisation and data security, and customer privacy.

There is more demand for video content to enhance CX due to the pandemic according to the Feefo report. Some 84% of customers stated that they were convinced to purchase a brand’s offerings after watching a video that accurately communicated and promoted brand values. David Parry-Jones, Senior Vice President and GM EMEA at cloud communications company Twilio, predicts brands will continue to develop long-term, integrated video solutions, tailor-made for the best possible customer experience, through 2022 and beyond.

A report from marketing software company HubSpot on how technology will affect the future of customer service asserts that real-time voice conversations will increasingly be replaced by face-to-face video communication, on platforms such as Zoom. More people are also using video voicemail. This report also states that email, currently the most popular digital platform for customer experience communication, is rapidly being supplanted by real-time messaging, via the use of platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Omni-channel marketing is also benefiting from technological advances, as HubSpot enables businesses to collect incoming messages from customers across all channels in one place. This enables brands to homogenise customer communications, with full awareness of an individual’s consumer journey across all digital channels.

Interestingly, the Feefo report suggests B2B businesses are putting less effort into digitally-driven, user-friendly experiences and are more likely to employ smaller websites and one-off landing pages. However, simply offering to book a demonstration or displaying contact information is no longer enough to meet B2B customer expectations. This is driving the use of applications such as online self-service tools by the CX focused businesses.

As the rate of change for customer and user expectations increases ever more rapidly, self-service will become a necessity, not just an option. As customers expect digital channels to satisfy personal requirements and provide solutions quickly, self-service tools such as knowledge bases, IVR (interactive voice response) platforms, online discussion forums, and intelligent virtual assistants will become vital. Businesses will need to deploy all the tech tools at their disposal to secure sales and build brand loyalty for the future.