Understand, Anticipate and Act on Customer Intent

Improving the customer experience has been identified as a 2017 critical priority, second only to growing revenue, for 37 percent of marketing decision makers, according to a Forrester study. To achieve this goal, consumer intent must be the cornerstone of your marketing strategy.

As digital continues to disrupt business processes and practices, organizations must take a new approach to customer engagement—one that anticipates and acts on consumer intent across channels. In this way, companies can create moments that matter for consumers and drive successful outcomes.

Technologies for assessing customer intent

In 2017, forward-thinking businesses will leverage the following three technologies to impact operations and improve the customer experience: Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Rather than simply analyzing data to understand how customers have behaved in the past—to predict future behavior—companies will leverage machine-to-machine communication through IoT devices and sensors to deliver personalized support, like fixing a product problem before it happens.

Best practice for intent-driven customer engagement

Channel-centric customer engagement is a popular contact center model today. Yet, a focus on optimizing performance within channels is more of a passive, or reactive, approach to customer interaction. This can end up disappointing customers.

Instead, an intent-driven customer engagement model uses data to anticipate a customer’s intent during the purchase journey. The intelligence thus gained allows marketers to present customers with intelligently selected next steps.

Applications in the contact center

Chatbots: According to a 24/7 article, AI-powered chatbots are emerging in more businesses to better handle inquiries efficiently and at scale. Since 93 percent of U.S. consumers use the Internet for research before making a purchase, a chatbot function will become critical to customer satisfaction. Chatbots like Siri, Cortana and Facebook’s Bot Engine for Messenger are already familiar to, and popular with, consumers. In 2017, 24/7 predicts that chatbot technology will extend beyond messaging apps to empower customers with self-service on several channels, including SMS, mobile apps, email and phone.

Communication channels: This year, progressive companies will begin to orchestrate the customer experience by pairing communications channels to ease customer interactions. Logical pairings might include Web and phone, chatbot and live chat, or mobile app and IVR—depending on each business’s unique needs. Leaders will apply AI and ML techniques to company data (customer profiles, histories and relationships) to gauge consumer intent. In turn, this intelligence will allow organizations to deliver experiences that exceed customer expectations.

Personalized marketing: How businesses market their products and services will be significantly aided by advanced technologies that help determine customer preferences in product features. This year, more companies will start to use cognitive science to gain consumer attention. Advertising and marketing campaigns aimed at individuals will funnel results back through ML models to continually improve outcomes.

Intent-driven customer engagement is about understanding your customers—who they are, what they’re doing, the channels they’re using—and leveraging insights gained by employing today’s advanced technologies to deliver the optimal customer experience.