This blog was originally published on The Drum here.
Indeed, the last few years have represented an awakening around the many and complex issues related to data privacy. Some form of data protection laws, for example, are now in place in more than 80 countries, raising concern around the future of personalization, performance marketing and more.
Though Europe was the first to enact widespread legislation, recent developments in California suggest a similar wave will break across the United States. However, a much larger wave recently hit our shores – and shores all around the world – a global pandemic that has kept a large part of our population at home, for months on end. This change has had a profound effect on the consumer, plunging many if not all daily purchases online and creating a tremendous thirst for entertainment and connection at home, to name just a few of the impacts.
While the tsunami that is the global pandemic will recede one day in the future, after it is finally declared safe to be out and about it is universally agreed that some of the changes we are experiencing will be permanent. Remote interactions will continue to play an elevated role in how people live under the ‘new normal.’ Harnessing data to improve these interactions, deliver on and exceed consumer expectations, and enable humans to provide flawless remote support will be increasingly important.
What this means for today’s marketer
If you are a marketer – I ask you – which wave should you pay most attention to? The wave of increased data privacy or the wave of consumer disruption? The answer seems clear. It’s the latter because in disruption lies opportunity and that opportunity can lie in some new and unexpected places. As one case in point – the Covid-19 crisis has created an unprecedented number of support calls – an avalanche of ‘moments of truth’ and human connection your brand could be capitalizing on.
So, here are my predictions for 2021.
1. Customer care should be a top focus for marketers. Remote interactions with customers will continue to be key. With the omnichannel capabilities available today, marketers have literally terabytes of data generated every day by their interactions with their customers that could be mined to hyper-personalize interactions, wow your customers and make every contact count.
2. Investments in EX will have greater impact on CX than ever before. Happy employees equal happy customers. AI-enabled tools used for recruiting can use the power of data to creating a perfect match between your target consumers and the people you entrust to interact with them day in and day out. Furthmore, AI-enabled tools can enable those humans to provide support that is frictionless, with less effort. The more we invest in EX, the more the consumer benefits.
3. 2021 will take us much closer to getting the human-machine balance right. Rather than replacing humans, machines are elevating what humans do, giving them powers that reach beyond space and time. This delivers benefits to consumer and employees alike. While humans are busy interacting with customers, AI-enabled bots trained on sentiment data analysis and more can scour chat, email and other channels to identify customers that need help, like fast!
4. 2021 may be the year we really see AI-enabled marketing explode. This would literally give the words ‘marketing automation’ new meaning. With huge amounts of interaction data available to many companies and advances in machine learning, we could see next-generation, real-time, AI-enabled marketing where signals are detected and hyper-personalized messages and offers are instantly dispatched with nary a marketer or marketing operations person lifting a finger.
As marketers increasingly own experience across the enterprise and its many customer-facing touchpoints, the opportunities to leverage data to improve consumer experience will continue to grow. The potential for impact may, indeed, be greatest where those experiences and interactions are remote.
Whether shopping, servicing or just ‘connecting’, there is a permanent shift toward online activities in place of activities performed primarily in person before. As remote interactions become more important, the ability to leverage data to improve these interactions, much of it generated internally by companies, will increase as well — creating a treasure trove for driving increased consumer delight — and a real competitive advantage.