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Although COVID-19 cases continue to rise globally, domestically, there are signs of recovery.
As of 24th April 2021, one in five people have had both coronavirus jabs and over half of Britain has received their first.
Most non-essential businesses have also started to open, with things looking positive for most offline retail businesses. In fact, Primark, which is a purely offline business, has had record sales at its newly reopened stores in England and Wales last week, as shoppers sought out summer fashions for the return to socialising. Conversely, Netflix has seen its shares dip by 8% as its subscription growth slows due to people resorting to real-life social events and activities.
Nevertheless, COVID-19 has made a resounding impact on societies at large and changed our daily habits, in some cases, for the foreseeable future. Our attitude towards hygiene, security, and health is unlikely to be the same for quite some time…The rapid adaption of digital devices and services is another reality that is likely to stick and continue to evolve. Particularly, cloud and AI technologies have been transformational in how customer experience is delivered and what it means for the customers and the businesses that deliver them. The CX ecosystem will continue to evolve and the boundaries between online and offline worlds will continue to blur – to a point that it would become an existential challenge for organisations to decipher who their customers are and how best to serve, engage, and retain them?
To clarify this point, let’s have a look at the following Facebook Messenger conversation that I had with five of my friends (Emmy, Ursula, Erik, Henry, and Quin) when I had to travel abroad on short notice.
Me: Oh boy, I need to travel to Dubai this Friday!
Emmy: No bother, would you like me to book a flight for you Zaheer?
Me: yes, thanks Emmy, I would like to fly out from Manchester on Business Class after 21:00
Ursula: Hey Zaheer, shall I book a pickup for you? You will need to be in Manchester at least 2 hours before boarding?
Me: that would be great Ursula, thanks! I am carrying only hand luggage so normal car would be fine.
Erik: Hi Zaheer, don’t forget to get your mobile tariff enabled for roaming – let me know if I can sort this out for you.
Me: Good shout Erik, it was a real pain last time – I need mobile data enabled for Dubai – could you sort that out for me, please? I need it for a week only so get me a good deal mate.
Erik: sure, I will have that sorted and will send you a confirmation shortly – I have access to your business account so it won’t take long.
Me: thanks Erik
Me: Henry, you heard the conversation mate – could you help me with the hotel reservation please? I need 3 nights near Burj, wifi, B&B inclusive. thanks!
Henry: sure Zaheer, consider it done, I have your preferences on room type so I will check the rates and send you a message to confirm.
Me: Thanks, Henry!
Me: Quin, could you send me the latest facts and insights on COVID-19 Middle East please? I need to put together a quick presentation. I would prefer references from Big 4, Harvard, etc.
Quin: sure Zaheer, I have sent you the latest articles on COVID-19 Middle East from McKinsey, Delloite, HBR, and MIT. Let me know should you need more.
Me: thanks Quin – you are a star!
Ok, if you have read up to this point, you must have figured out that the above conversation is anything but real. The clues?
My friends seem to be available to chat with me instantly!
Probably available on a 24/7 basis.
They are desperately trying to serve me (like my personal assistants).
They have full access to my personal accounts and aware of my interests and preferences.
They also have authorisation to act on my behalf and execute commercial transactions – not quite ready to relinquish all of my autonomy.
In reality, you wouldn’t expect to interact with your friends this way unless there were exceptional circumstances – and even then, it would be difficult for your friends to access your personal credentials and accounts immediately!
However, this is potentially the CX of the future. The new norm. Powered by the cloud, AI, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and edge computing. Where brands will engage with you as friends and serve you as your personal assistants.
Now, to relive the envisioned CX, I invite you to:
Reread the above conversation – only this time assume:
Emmy = Emirates;
Ursula = Uber;
Erik = EE;
Henry = Hilton Hotels;
Quin = Quora
Assume also that the underlined text represents the keyword-based triggers within conversational context – used by Chatbots to execute actions.
To complicate things further, imagine that it wasn’t me who interacted with these bots. Instead, it was my intelligent assistant based on Alexa, Cortana, or Siri.
This is the world where the face of your customers has dynamically changed from humans à to bots à to things.
Just imagine your IoT-powered fridge ordering your usual staples and complaining when things aren’t of expected quality! How would businesses cope with customer demand in that scenario? Would you resort to building manual business rules or let the ML and AI-powered algorithms pre-empt and handle the complexity?
At ECS we help businesses of all sizes and industries envision and pursue their digital transformation ambitions so you can get ahead of the curve, or certainly have solutions in place that give you the agility to change your mind on how you deliver service cost effectively. We could even have a word with your fridge for you.
To discuss how we could help your business contact us here.
Before you close the tab, I have one final question – is your digital transformation journey catering for these developments? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Zaheer Gilani leads the ECS CX Business Consulting proposition – he is an experienced Customer Service and CX industry veteran with over 20-year experience working and consulting for FTSE 100 brands globally. Zaheer is the author of Customer Journey Mapping Workbooks and has developed and launched CX Industry’s first Customer Experience Casual 3D Mobile game.