Customers have made their preference for online and mobile commerce clear, and as companies continue to adapt to this and propel towards providing advanced self service, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence are stepping into the limelight. Sylvia Jensen, Director of Marketing EMEA at Oracle Marketing Cloud, discusses this technology revolution and what it means for the future.
The dynamic between brands and customers has reached a tipping point, and all signs point to a technology revolution that will yet again reshape the customer experience. People have made clear their preference for online and mobile commerce and in response, companies are moving further away from real-life, human interactions in favour of advanced self service. So it is no surprise that large proportions of sales and marketing leaders are citing Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence as the biggest game-changers in communication for 2017 and beyond.
Self Service Gets an Upgrade
From VR dressing rooms on a retailer’s website to intelligent chatbots on a telecoms company’s service portal, merchants are already finding ways to make the customer experience more convenient and familiar to consumers whose primary communication platforms have become messaging apps and social networks.
AI and VR have the potential to greatly enhance the customer experience but brands must ensure they are set up to succeed. Unless these technologies are underpinned by an overarching data strategy that unifies and organises customer and prospect data, they will only deliver a fraction of their potential. Brands will always look to experiment with new technologies as they try to find ways of delivering innovative and memorable experiences for their customers, but they need to ensure that they are able to truly understand their customers first. Having the right data will enable organisations to deliver a better, more personalised experience to their customers and deliver the right message to the right person at the right time on the right channel – through VR, AI, on social or otherwise.
Will VR Rule Retail?
The online retail space has long been a proving ground for emerging technology as a means to better serve customers. Bold brands bank on these innovations as a means to differentiate themselves and strengthen their rapport with consumers, who are in turn keen to try out new ways of engaging with their digital environment.
Of the online retailers surveyed by Oracle Marketing Cloud, 76% already have or are planning to use chatbots in their CX by 2020 and 74% already have or are planning to implement VR and AI in the same timeframe.
Until now, the use of VR in retail has largely been a novelty. Comparatively few people own VR headsets, and only a minority of brands can actually deliver VR-based services that truly elevate the customer experience. However, favour is starting to swing towards VR. Previously VR had been unattainable for the masses due to cost but now game developers and console manufacturers are creating cost effective, VR-friendly experiences, and making the technology a staple of the modern home, whilst raising customer experience expectations.
AI and VR have the ability to positively enhance the customer experience, but before any implementation can take place companies need to truly understand how their unique audiences would react to these formats. As VR starts to appear more as a common practice within the home, and emerging technology continues to be adopted by retailers, the modern consumer’s standards are set to continuing rising higher and higher across all sectors.
By Sylvia Jensen
Director of Marketing EMEA
Oracle Marketing Cloud