Is Alexa the Future of Customer Service?

45% of retailers plan to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) within three years to enhance the customer experience, according to the 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey.

According to the report from BRP, 55% of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty by improving the mobile shopping experience and creating a unified experience across all channels.

“The customer experience in a unified commerce world is much more complex than it is in a pure play e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail environment and we are seeing retailers map out the entire customer journey to design the optimal customer experience,” said Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP. “This complexity expands exponentially as the proliferation of social media, the Internet of Things, (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning influence the retail world and more specifically, the customer journey.”

Stores must now encompass both worlds – the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, such as touching and feeling merchandise and personally interacting with a knowledgeable associate – whether simply human or a combination of AI and human characteristics – married with the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world. The physical and digital worlds are forever intertwined as we look to the future.

BRP conducted the 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey to understand retailers’ customer experience priorities today and for the future, and how the evolution of unified commerce helps provide retailers with the right people, processes and technology to enable retailers to enhance the customer experience.

The key customer experience capabilities are:

Educate – One of the areas of greatest improvement is the offering of social media as a research option for customers to learn more about the brand and products. Overall utilization is up from 73% of retailers utilizing it last year to 92% this year, however, many retailers indicate that their current social media offerings need improvement.

Engage – Most retailers have plans to implement new technologies to identify customers via their smartphones, mobile applications and other emerging technologies. Within three years, 59% of retailers plan to use Wi-Fi and 63% plan to use mobile apps to identify customers in their stores.

Execute – 67% of retailers are offering a consistent product assortment across channels; however, many retailers are still struggling with manual processes as 43% indicate the processes need improvement.

Enhance – Retailers realize the importance of utilizing customer insights gathered from social media as 89% of retailers are now using social media comments as a critical customer satisfaction measurement, up from 59% last year.

Enablers – Enhanced networks are a critical requirement for a unified commerce environment and 76% of retailers plan to enhance or replace their network within the next three years.

A special thanks goes to the survey sponsors: the platinum sponsor is Aptos and the gold sponsors are Cayan, ECRS, Experian Data Quality, Fujitsu, Manhattan Associates, Mi9 Retail, NCR, Netsuite, PCMS, Radial, Tyco Retail Solutions.

I encourage you to download and read the complete report:

2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey

As always, I appreciate your feedback and opinions on this topic and the report.  Please share your comments below.

David

 

Vice President of Marketing
David has more than 15 years of experience marketing to retail and hospitality companies. His broad marketing experience is focused on designing and executing successful strategic marketing plans, demand generation, public relations and branding through customer-centric messaging. He has significant experience marketing retail technology and services with an emphasis on POS systems.

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