Looking Ahead: Customer Experience Trends to Come
Customers and the businesses that serve them can expect to see the following six customer experience trends take center stage in 2024: AI, conversational commerce, video, voice authentication, 5G, and serverless applications. Each of these trends in customer experience will improve the conversations that customers have with businesses (and vice versa), helping customers feel better understood and served in the process.
Importantly, these CX trends will help companies nurture meaningful and enduring relationships across the entire customer journey — not just before and during a purchase but afterward, as well. They will also increasingly engage customers on their terms, meeting them where they are rather than expecting them to adapt to inflexible modes of communication.
Customers already recognize AI as one of the most established customer experience trends. Chatbots now answer their questions and give them timely support on business websites, apps, and SMS channels. However, AI's potential to transform CX for the better isn't limited to convenient text-based interactions with chatbots. In 2024 and beyond, AI will show up on even more channels and improve the conversations customers have with businesses in several important ways.
According to Zendesk, 41% of consumers say synthetic agents will change how they purchase from brands in the future, and that number rises to 43% for voice-based AI.
Voice-enabled self-service tools will make it easier for customers to just say what they need instead of warily navigating a series of phone menus. And if, for some reason, the voice assistant can't resolve a customer's request, it will quickly escalate the call to an experienced agent who can take it from there — along with contextual information that will help the agent resolve the call faster.
AI will supercharge the agent's capabilities even after they take over the call by proactively looking up answers for them in knowledge bases and predicting the next best course of action to take when assisting the customer. And with chatbots and voice assistants taking on simple customer requests, human agents won't have as many calls to field in the first place. As a result, they will have more time to focus on resolving complex issues, and customers will benefit in the form of better and more useful conversations.
2. Conversational Commerce
According to Accenture, 77% of people are familiar with conversational AI, and 42% percent of consumers would be comfortable using conversational AI for product recommendations. For this reason, conversational commerce will be one of the most important customer experience trends for 2024.
Conversational commerce technology is inherently flexible, and it will be deployed in increasingly innovative ways. For example, conversational commerce will give customers personalized product recommendations while they're browsing an e-commerce website, allowing them to place orders when they've found the right item. It can just as easily serve them on voice channels, for instance, by helping them search for products on a smart speaker. Even well after a purchase has been completed, conversational commerce will continue building customer relationships by seeking feedback, providing even more tailored recommendations, and making customers feel valued.
Although this kind of technology will be central to the future of CX, it will only make an impact to the degree that customers actually find it helpful. As Forrester notes, companies that plan to deliver a consistently stellar CX should pay close attention to the quality of their conversation design. In addition to investing in conversational commerce tools that have intuitive conversation design features and following conversational AI best practices, consider having your most experienced contact center professionals closely involved in designing these digital conversations. After all, they know best how your customer conversations play out on a daily basis.
Even though it might fly under the radar compared to other major customer channels, like voice, email, and chat, video plays an important role all the same — particularly with younger customers. It has also become an essential communications channel in certain industries, like telehealth and education. Accordingly, video will be one of the digital customer experience trends to keep your eye on in 2024.
Businesses can already tap innovative video APIs to add live video chat to their websites and apps, giving customers the option of securely chatting directly with human agents in a more personalized setting. AI sentiment analysis will even detect whether a given customer is becoming frustrated, automatically generating relevant insights that the human agent can use to quickly and effectively address the issue.
AI will make these video conversations more engaging and helpful by automatically captioning or translating them where appropriate. It will even step in to deliver video or audio effects, like blurring, spotlighting, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), surround sound, or echo cancellation. And, once the call is over, AI for video conferencing will be able to automatically generate a recap of what transpired during the call, complete with next steps, so customers have handy takeaways right at their fingertips.
4. Voice and Silent Authentication
Trust is essential to a great customer experience. Without it, the customer can't have confidence that their personal information is being kept safe, and the business can't properly prevent fraud. Voice authentication will be one of the more effective trends in customer experience in this area, easing concerns for customers and businesses alike.
With intelligence-backed advancements like Silent Authentication also hitting the market, more businesses can use powerful backend data-crunching measures to ensure the customers creating accounts, logging in, and changing account information are actually who they say they are.
Rather than challenging a customer to verify their identity with a barrage of complex questions, a company will be able to let them naturally answer straightforward questions via voice. The biometrics capabilities in an automatic speech recognition API will be able to instantly confirm the customer is who they say they are using their unique voiceprint, which is harder to steal than basic identifying information. Plus, the customer will be relieved not to have to jump through so many hoops anymore.
According to research from Ericsson, there are now more than 1 billion 5G subscriptions worldwide. Customers are continuing to embrace this next-generation cellular communications technology, enjoying the faster network speeds and excellent call quality it makes possible. 5G also represents one of the more interesting customer experience trends for 2024, particularly for video APIs that businesses can embed into their websites and apps as well as the contact center.
Because customers are likely to have 5G-enabled mobile devices, it will be easier to engage with them on bandwidth-intensive channels, like live video or even AR. For example, companies that use advanced composition tools for immersive applications, like live broadcast events, training sessions, or virtual tours, will be far more likely to have those conversations and experiences proceed without a hitch when attendees are joining via 5G-enabled devices.
Employees who are working remotely will also be able to use the full range of their customer experience tools without worrying about encountering latency or sudden dips in network performance. Customer communications will go more smoothly, resulting in a better customer experience.
6. Serverless Applications
In 2024 and beyond, businesses will continue to rely on another foundational technology to elevate their CX even further: serverless applications. A serverless application architecture enables a company and its developers to quickly build and deploy a compelling web application or mobile app without having to grapple with all the administrative tasks typically involved, like making sure servers are properly provisioned, accurately resourcing the environment to scale for growth, and coordinating ongoing maintenance. Serverless applications will be particularly advantageous for creating innovative communications APIs that customers find compelling as the customer experience evolves.
With a serverless application platform like Cloud Runtime, businesses and their developers will be able to rapidly build and deploy a communications API according to their unique specifications and requirements, minus the administrative burden associated with tending to the underlying infrastructure. Free to focus on creating innovative features tailored to their customers' needs, they will be able to create automated and personalized interactions, such as a speech-enabled IVR or a video API that embeds live interactive video directly into their website or mobile app. Low-code and no-code capabilities will allow these companies to further streamline the process and get to market faster.
How Customer Experience Trends in 2024 Will Revolutionize Communications
Customer experience industry trends have already revolutionized the way customers communicate with businesses, and they're poised to do so again in 2024. As they do, they will help businesses make progress toward an important goal: making the customer experience more intuitive and responsive to the customers they serve.
Having grown used to chatbots, customers will soon benefit from timely AI help in several new and innovative ways in the coming year. They'll notice it in the form of powerful voice assistants that let them simply say what they want and need rather than fumbling around for the right number on a complicated phone menu. They'll also get faster and better support from human agents who have an easier time locating the right answers thanks to AI helpers behind the scenes.
Conversational commerce solutions will give customers personalized product recommendations via chat and voice, keeping tabs on the relationship well after a purchase has been completed. Interactive video solutions will elevate the quality of the conversation they have with human agents during video conversations by providing captioning and translation services, making this uniquely personal channel even more useful in the process.
Prepare for the Future of CX
Each of these customer experience trends for 2024 touches on a different aspect of CX, but at the end of the day, they will all make it easier for customers to get the service and support they need on their terms. By preparing for the future of CX, your business can set itself up to consistently deliver a stellar customer experience, earning customers' trust and increasing the likelihood that they'll come back to continue the conversation they found so helpful.
Excited to jump on these CX trends? Vonage Communications APIs can help you achieve your goals.