Last week we held our fifth Customer Experience Summit at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London. Over 100 attendees from 50 leading finance, telecommunications, retail, and media organizations joined in a discussion of how intelligent computing – a key enabler for the so-called “fourth industrial age” – will change the way companies do business with their customers.
The magnificent hotel at St. Pancras Station is a symbol of the might of the first industrial revolution and a testament to the power of the transportation networks from that time. However, at the turn of the 20th century, another great technological revolution was just beginning which subsequently changed consumer expectations and the hotel closed – an ignominious end and an object lesson on the power of disruptive change. To link to these lessons from the past, we began our summit with a video from this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos which showed that disruptive change from intelligent technologies is top-of-mind for leading economists and business leaders.
Customer expectations for self-service are being shaped by advances and adoption of innovative technologies such as Natural Language Understanding and conversational dialogue, voice biometrics, digital intelligent assistants, predictive analytics and cognitive computing. The Nuance Summit provided an opportunity to discuss these changing expectations and how to meet the needs of a modern consumer.
The key message resonating throughout the sessions was that in order to truly capitalize on the opportunity in front of them, companies need to evaluate:
- Consumer expectations and behavior – really consider usability through a design lens and quantify what their customers need at a user-level.
- Business outcomes and value – achieving success is about measuring success – deciding how to balance cost, revenue and quality objectives is key.
- Technology and delivery – innovation in customer experience requires iteration based on feedback – choosing a partner is as important as choosing technology.
Highlights of the day included:
- HSBC, Barclays Retail and Barclaycard sharing their insights, results and plans relating to their strategic use of voice biometrics technologies not only to greatly improve customer experience and reduce operational costs, but also to reduce account-takeover fraud was particularly striking.
- TalkTalk and Lloyds outlining their course for phone-based self-service in a highly-engaging panel discussion – which outlined the need for natural, conversational and more deeply personalized experiences in the voice channel, a medium which is fast-becoming a concierge for digital escalations.
- Jetstar’s story of Jess, their web-based intelligent assistant – which has not only gained them a reduction in web-based chat and associated costs – but has also delivered revenue and brand upsides which exceeded expectations.
- Nuance’s Cognitive Innovations Group sharing their vision for how enterprises will offer increasingly intelligent self-service solutions, leveraging a new technology ecosystem and bridging the gap between machine and human service.
Overall, we heard consistently from the audience that there is a huge opportunity arising from the shift in expectations of today’s consumer. This is being driven by digital-first, cloud-based, data-rich and increasingly intelligent solutions which meet their desires for easy and increasingly human-like self-service experiences. For those companies presenting at the summit, success is most demonstrably being measured not only in innovation, but also in cost savings, driving growth, improving the experience, and gaining loyalty for their customers at the same time.