January 29, 2020 | By

CXNext Live: Conference Roundup – 5 Insights from CES, NRF and What it Means for Voice AI

The last two weeks were big in the world of consumer electronics and retail with two important events landing within days of each other. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which highlights what’s coming in the next wave of consumer electronics and technology and how it’s impacting customer experience (CX) trends happened in Las Vegas, and the National Retail Federation (NRF) show, which focuses on the future of retail, retail trends, and retail technology was in New York.

So with an eye on the future, the CXNext crew sat down with Jon Stine, Lead at the Open Voice Network, to discuss key insights from the conferences and also what to expect with voice AI, his specialty.

Here are our five big takeaways:

1. With a proliferation of technology, personalization is more critical.

Personalization was a common theme at CES and NRF. With so many new and connected devices, we as consumers are now living our lives through devices. And we expect much more than a generic experience.

Delivering a unique experience for the consumer in the context of what they’re doing is quickly becoming a requirement. (We’ve touched on the topic of personalization and context quite a bit on CXNext Live, our weekly LinkedIn live video series.) As Jon points out, personalization goes beyond giving your customer an offer. It’s recognizing them across all touchpoints, sending them reminders, giving them recommendations relevant to their age, gender, interests and location, rewarding them appropriately, and doing it all at the right time. This is what personalization looks like in the new reality of technology.

2. Data leads to operational excellence, which leads to trust.

We also saw some emphasis on the operational side. Beneath all the bells and whistles of technology at CES, Jon began to see the underlying thread of all the ways that consumers are connected and can be found. Because of these connections, data plays a huge role in how organizations operate and engage.

It’s an opportunity (if not the expectation) to have the right information available for customers when they want it. When is an item back in stock? When is the item going to ship? It’s not a fancy, shiny object, but it’s operational brilliance that leads to trust and belief in a great brand that customers want to do business with.

Beyond that, how do you treat customer data? Do they trust you to use it in their best interest? Do you use data and content to drive more value for your customers?

The good news is that technology is giving us more access. Now, the question becomes, how do we instrument and manage that data in the right way?

3. Lines are blurring between the physical store and omnichannel experience.

Digital companies, like Amazon, are opening physical stores, while physical stores are investing in their digital experience.

This means the store is now a node in the network. It is part of how and where the consumer interacts, but increasingly, as we all know, the shopper begins online. Forrester reports that more than half of all retail revenue in the US will be influenced directly online. That means decisions will be made online, and then customers may pick up the product or experience it in store. So we can’t think in channels anymore — it’s one connected CX.

In the end, shopping is a series of decisions. How do you enhance decision making across the customer’s buying path? That may be at home, in store, on mobile devices. Understand your shopper’s decision journey. Follow that path to find where you can most influence that decision making to move them as easily as possible to saying yes at every point along the journey. And then pinpoint where you need to invest in technology to be able to do that.

4. Employee engagement is increasingly important, especially in stores.

Another theme that emerged, especially at NRF, is a focus on the employee experience and how it impacts CX success. In last week’s episode of CXNext Live, we talked a lot about employee engagement across the organization, whether in the contact center, behind a desk, or on the frontlines with customers. And we’re glad to see this topic getting the attention it deserves.

Physical stores are moving away from being somewhere customers just go to buy goods to somewhere customers go to experience brands. That means employees aren’t just managing inventory or the checkout process but becoming consultants and advisors for their customers.

It is important to arm them with the best information and the latest technology to make them more effective and efficient. Things like employee-facing chatbots can support them with personalized information, allowing them to put their focus on empathizing and interacting with the customer. When a customer comes into the store, this is how they can be better served and understood.

5. Voice-enabled tech is here, but we need standards.

Voice recognition technology was on full display at CES. There’s a lot of excitement and buzz around what can be done with voice to improve CX.

Just like with the early days of the internet, smartphones, and mobile app development, we need standards to enable this technology to be open and really take off. When AI-voice is standards-based, interoperable, accessible, and data-protected, more of us can benefit from this technology.

As we are beginning to see at shows like CES and directly in our own everyday lives, voice will be a primary interface. Just look at how people are searching on Google. One in seven Google searches is now being executed by voice. That’s billions of voice searches.

Your shoppers are going to want to interact with you by voice. But how many platforms do you want to develop for it and maintain? Standards lead to interoperability, and for CX practitioners, that means you can focus more on content and relationship building and less on building and maintaining IT platforms.

For much more conversation on these takeaways and more, be sure to watch our full conversation on CXNext Live: Conference Roundup: News Out of CES, NRF and What it Means for Voice AI with a guest appearance by Jon Stine, Lead at Open Voice Network.

About CXNext Live

Tune in weekly as we dig into topics focused around building better customer experiences. In these episodes, LogMeIn’s Ryan Lester, Senior Director of Customer Engagement Technologies, and guests from various roles and backgrounds discuss CX strategy, technology and market trends, recent events, and real-world examples. Find details on the next episode and past recordings at LinkedIn #CXNextLive.

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