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Three Emerging Aspects From the Brand Relevance Index 2018

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Think about the brands that make a difference in your everyday life. The ones that make your life easier, better. Offering you exactly what you need, at the exact moment that you need it.

These brands have the power to influence your decisions, inspiring you day by day. These are the companies that Prophet calls “relentlessly relevant”.

In this article we give an overview about U.S. market, with the purpose to find some relevant aspects that can help marketers understand what people value the most. This perspective gives brands a different approach in order to unlock growth.

THE BRAND RELEVANCE INDEX

The Brand Relevance Index was launched four years ago and is performed country by country, with the aim to distinguish the differences that exist within people and markets from various part of the world.  

The crucial point of this ranking is that it is made by surveying more than 40.000 people to list hundreds of brands on many aspects and attributes. According to Scott Davis, “customers are the real only experts” and the choice to start from their perspective to investigate the brand relevance is determinant.

The BRI is based on 4 principles:

  • The inclination to think, make investments and create with a customer-oriented vision;

  • The capacity to meet customers needs, offering products where and when they require them;

  • The ability to provide emotional experiences and ideas that inspire customers day by day;

  • The inclination to continuously reinventing themselves, finding new and creative ways to anticipate unexpressed needs and desires.

The results are mostly congruent to the expectations: tech giants are still dominating the top of the list and, besides few big movers and some surprising entrances, the most famous brands are meeting the expectations.

While a third of the top 21 brands is owned by three companies - Google, Disney, and Sony - none of them stands in the top 5. Instead, Apple is still the most relevant brand, for the fourth year in a row, while KitchenAid and Nike moved into the top 10, replacing Disney and Pixar.

Prophet presents four key findings, common to all top brands: all the companies on the top of the list are constantly reinventing themselves, in order to build a specific, strong community around them. Furthermore, they still are focused on customers and their needs and desires, while trying to inspire them and chasing a higher purpose.

GIANTS AND NEWCOMERS

Tech giants are on the top of the list: 8 of the top 10 are inherently digital and experiential, most born in the last 20 years. How can traditional, brick and mortar companies keep up with the wave of newcomers?

Looking at KitchenAid, a company started in 1919 that has just moved into the top ten, it shows the way to winning customers’ mind and heart: reinventing and renewing is the key to stick out of the ordinary and to emerge from the obsolescence.

Top brands have the commitment to stand ahead customers’ needs and to surprise them, continually reshaping experiences and expectations, in order to offer ever-greater involvement. It’s not just a prerogative of the newcomers.

Older brands, such as Dyson, Chevrolet or Ford, have recently broken into the top 50, confirming that there still is a room for historical brands, if they can keep the pace, transforming themselves while remaining true to their roots and consistent with the brand heritage.

Furthermore, the youngest customer base has a preference for these companies too. While these customers have always been known for being social media obsessed, this stereotype is no longer true - it has never been, probably. In fact, besides all the posting, tweeting and snapping, social media brands aren’t the most relevant to their lives.

On the top of their list there is Netflix, confirmed as the best entertaining media. Due to its ability to offer suggestions tailored to individual preferences, and to increase the content base with new, peculiar projects, it keeps reaching the highest “make me happy” score. Definitely one of the best recently born brands. 

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

It’s evident that among millennials, all the social media platforms are losing ground; especially Facebook, the biggest mover of the year (-102 positions). However, this drop is seen in every age and gender demographic as well, confirming that this decline is not ascribed to the youngest base.

The decreased usage of Facebook is imputable to the lack of trust and interest. The “fake news” attribution, and the numerous big data breaches have brought down the brand reputation, making people doubt about its value.

Partly, this drop may represent a natural shifting to other parts of the social ecosystem, as people are always looking for the best place to express themselves. Instagram is still running the photo-framed social interactions, WhatsApp is the most used messaging system, and YouTube is the natural place for video sharing.

Nevertheless, all these social media platforms don’t seem to be considered as “relevant” to people: no one of them is ranking on the top 50, except for Pinterest.

INSPIRATIONAL BRANDS

Among social media, only Pinterest is winning customers attention, ranking third in the overall list, and first among “makes me feel inspired”.

Delivering great experiences and promoting relevant ideas, is one of the most important aspects of relevance, that results in the opportunity for brands to create a deeper connection with their customers. People want brands to express a unique model of thought, that is consistent with the brand image, and which customers can relate to or get inspiration from.

Likewise, Android is perceived as “The People’s Platform”, making its openness and ease to use a major of the brand characteristics. Its usage is worldwide - actually 86% of mobile devices - and people have the perception that it is accessible and futuristic, and gives them the power to contribute to its development.

Both these aspects - letting people get inspiration from each other and from the brand, along with showing a purpose to chase - result in the opportunity to build a strong community that shares a common view and meets common values.

The few takeaways presented in this article are just a small part of the relevant aspects that can be observed looking at the report by Prophet. The starting point to study the relationship between brands and customers, that it is the most important element when shaping brand personality in order to become relevant, meaningful and essential to customers’ lives.

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Download our brand new report, Digital Innovation in Retail & Fashion, and discover why you must know and understand your customers before even thinking about selling, and how you can use personalization to deliver relevant experiences that drive loyalty and increase value.

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Topics: Social Networking digital transformation Digital Customer Experience

The Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends For 2019

 

Gartner has just released its insight for the ten key trends you can’t afford to ignore in the next year. These Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology trends are expected to impact and transform industries through 2023.
The core concepts presented are all about shift and change and disruption, as technology is becoming an inextricable part of our world.

Three themes dominated the speech:

  • Intelligence. Increasingly the engine that drives future capabilities. An intelligence-ai driven future;
  • second is digital, in an increasingly blended fashion;
  • then mesh, as the importance of ecosystems.

In 2019 we will look at these three things coming together in an increasingly integrated fashion.

1: Autonomous things
Whether it’s cars, robots or agriculture, autonomous things use AI to perform tasks traditionally done by humans. By 2021 10% of new vehicles will have autonomous driving capabilities.

2: Augmented analytics
Data scientists have increasing amounts of data to prepare and analyze. Organizations can miss key insights from hypotheses the data scientists can't explore. That’s why “By 2020, more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated.”

3: AI-driven development
Developers will embed AI into applications and use AI to create AI-powered tools for the development process.

4: Digital twins
A digital twin is a digital representation that mirrors a real-life object, process, or system. The focus today is on digital twins in the IoT, which can improve enterprise decision making by providing information on maintenance and reliability, Expect this to grow in 2019.

5: Empowered edge
Expect information processing and content collection and delivery placed closer to the sources of the information, with the idea that keeping traffic local will reduce latency. “Technology and thinking will shift to a point where the experience will connect people with hundreds of edge devices.”

6: Immersive technologies
Conversational platforms, which change how users interact with the world, and technologies such as augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR), which change how users perceive the world, will lead to new immersive experiences.

7: Blockchain
The blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, an expanding chronologically ordered list of signed, permanent transactional records shared by all participants in a network. Expect blockchain to take off in many industries in 2019.

8: Smart Spaces
Connected to the digital twins concept, a smart space is a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact forming an open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystem.

9: Digital ethics and privacy
Customers will have a growing awareness of the value of their personal information and will be increasingly concerned with how it’s being used

10: Quantum computing
Still not ready for prime time, quantum computing will evolve, as an exponentially scalable and highly parallel computing model.

Last but not least, seven digital disruptions you might not see coming in 2019, as they are infused in your day-to-day experience, and their expected impact:

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Topics: customer loyalty Digital Customer Experience customer engagement digital transformation Innovation

Gartner Symposium - Strategic Predictions For 2019 and Beyond

 

The future is filled with disruption. But pending disruptions are taking on new forms. This is the tipping point for Gartner's keynote about top strategic predictions for 2019 and beyond, live from Barcelona.

In essence, here is a selection for you of the most relevant insights from Gartner Symposium/ITxpo. 

  • AI evolves into augmented intelligence and is affecting human lives as the presence of technical skills is slowly increasing within organizations.
  • People-oriented cultures resist the dehumanization of the individual, and as a result, culture and privacy become more and more connected.
  • Processes become products, and markets consolidate as customers continue to adopt new technologies.
  • As a result, all organizations have explore AI steadily, and both develop and supplement AI skills with AI automation technologies provided by expert vendors in the different fields (i.e. digital customer experience.
  • Acting more and more with a systemic vision, organization have to learn how to introduce products based on internal processes and data by leveraging the cloud and ecosystems of digital giants.
Topics: Innovation digital transformation Digital Customer Experience

Digital Innovation In Retail - Towards An Empathic Customer Experience

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What will the future bring for leading brands in the retail and fashion industry?

With the rise of e-commerce giants like Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay, the retail scenario is rebuilt on a digital foundation, where competition is played on the ability to meet an entirely new set of behaviors, expectations, and priorities of today's shoppers.

On-demand services and instant gratification available at any time are giving customers an ever greater control over their purchase journey and increasing their power towards brands. Speed, ease, contextual and individual relevance have passed within a few years from being valuable nice-to-have to essential must-have.

However, few are really trying to bridge the gap between insight and action, and it's the case of leading companies that are using technology to innovate their customer experience with a human-centric approach, changing how they interact and engage with today's customers.

Timberland launched a context-aware email marketing campaign, shaping ads for different weatherproof products to match each user's position and weather conditions in real-time.

Since at least 2013, Amazon takes notice of our shopping behavior and tailors recommendations for every one of us. And as we continue browsing, the fitting personalization goes on.

Even customer support has become much smarter. On companies' websites and e-commerce, chatbots and virtual assistants use natural language processing to help customers effortlessly navigate questions, FAQs or troubleshooting.

In the offline world, we see stores and shop windows coming to life with digital signage interactive systems and 3D contents on augmented and virtual reality.  And even behind the scenes, store analytics is becoming a common practice that will soon have nothing on online analytics, helping retailers to better understand shoppers behavior and measure the impact of different areas in the store environment.

It is easy to see how all these applications have one thing in common: AI.

Artificial intelligence is disrupting the retail industry as it enables marketers to automate and bring on a large scale something that until a few years ago required effortful small-scale processes. That is tailor-made experiences, custom-designed for each individual.

But there is still something wrong with AI today. A missing piece to move from the now outdated customer-centric approach to a people-centric path, more consistent with the evolving needs and wants of today's shoppers. It is predicted to be the future of AI, that will progressively bridge the gap between the offline and the online world. That missing piece is empathy.

We have identified 10 key factors for an empathic customer experience. You can find them in the "Digital Innovation in Retail & Fashion" report, now free to download.

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Photo by Alejandro Alvarez on Unsplash

Topics: digital transformation Innovation Digital Customer Experience

Three (Avoidable) Steps To Create The Ultimate Bad Customer Experience

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Growing a happy customer base is the key to success, we all know it. We usually look at the bright side - how Brands could and should deliver the best possible experience. This time we want to focus on the dark side of the DCX.

In a nutshell, are you willing to delight your customers with amazing experiences? Do you work constantly to improve your strategy? If the answer is Yes, do not read this post. Or maybe you should. Warning: this is a (not so much) ironical post.

When creating a business strategy, most companies do not consider the importance of a well-rounded customer journey. They simply look at the tip of the iceberg - made of standard recommendations - not considering the uncovered area, that refers to valuables experiences.

MAKE YOURSELF HARD TO FIND

In love, the winner is the one who flees. The same way, you could be tempted to run away from your customer’s attention, hiding and making yourself hard to find. What better way to start a relationship than to be desired, right?

If you want to deliver a horrible customer experience, the tipping point is to make your customers feel upset. Forcing them to struggle, testing their will to find information about you or your products. The result? They will soon turn to your competitors.

The best view comes after the hardest climb, right? No. Not when talking about the customers and their experience. It’s essential to make sure that people can easily find what they are looking for, whether it is the localization of your store, the price of your product or the contacts of support.

Today’s people are always on the move and connected. They don’t want to waste time and request immediate answers to their questions. 75% of online customers expect help within 5 minutes. If you’re not there, you’re anywhere. Digital and mobile technologies got them used to the easiest, fastest and the more natural way to do things; they expect your brand to do the same.

In this scenario, the worst thing that you can do is to believe that you don’t need to oversee as many touchpoints of the customer journey as you can, online and offline. Do you want to be bad at DCX? Hide where none can find you!

DO NOT UNDERSTAND CUSTOMERS

Sometimes, even when you’ve been working so hard to make them run away, customers still have the guts to believe in you and your product. They want to connect with your brand at all costs. How can you escape from this heavy task? Easy: show no understanding at all of the channels.

In this era of constant data flow coming through all sorts of touchpoints, so many companies get lost in the stream, stuck with no idea of who their customers really are and where they are. All the information in this world is useless if you don’t know what to do with it.

Just think about social media, the perfect place to build useless strategies, waste your budget and not reach your audience anyway. One of the first things they teach you in a marketing course is that no brand/product is similar to another in terms of target audiences and channels.

Do you want to be irrelevant? Throw your messages and contents to a random audience using randomly chosen channels. Otherwise, find the perfect platform to interact with the right audience: think about your buyer personas and look for the right place to find them.

Most customers use multiple channels to complete a purchase; improving your omnichannel presence is a must if you want to maximize the opportunities to interact with prospective customers. The goal of a multi-channel strategy is to give your potential customers the chance to choose where and when to talk to you and buy your product.

Not only the presence on social media is important to build a good community; it is necessary to find the right way to interact with your customers, using all the channels they are connected to.
And before you say, no, posting and tweeting are not enough to make your presence relevant.

Delivering meaningful experiences means having a cohesive message across a number of channels, and a continuous evolution as the data about your customers’ behaviors and needs increase. You need to keep moving fast to be one step forward your competitors.

TREAT YOUR CUSTOMERS AS NUMBERS

After everything you have done to make them run away from you, if they are brave enough to buy your product, you can always change their mind with terrible customer service. Treat them like a number, not the most valuable asset of your company. That is the ultimate recipe for disastrous customer experience.

Keep in mind that the customer journey doesn’t end when a lead converts into a customer. It just starts there. People will judge you for your ability to offer good and timely support to their requests, whether they need advice or fixes.

People consider bad service experiences like waiting too long on the phone, being rebounded from office to office, having to explain the same issue to multiple service agents, or having to mail back a product ordered online.

When your customers feel they are being ignored or underestimated, they will share their experiences with the community. You know what that means? Bad reviews. If you do not accept your customer’s feedback, remove them, or reply with rough words is the worst thing you can do to improve your brand reputation.

You might get an enormous number of mentions through social media, even launching a trending topic, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be good for you. “Any press is good press” doesn’t work for marketing in the digital era.

People want brands to take their responsibilities, to act wisely and kindly. They want you to break the rules only when it’s for a worthy cause, not to get attention. Invest in your reputation with a long-lasting relationship, or you’ll end up as a shooting star.

A very well known example of bad brand reputation is Comcast, that provides one of the worst customer service all around, with customers usually complaining about the difficulty in reaching live support and, last but not least, for the hidden fees and extra-payments.

EXTRA: CHARGE & CHARGE

Charging an extra fee to surprise customers is the ultimate step for the worst customer experience people have ever seen. There is nothing more irritating and disappointing than being charged an extra fee, unexplained and unexpected.

Customers want to be sure that all the information, prices and fees are clearly declared. Not acting in transparently forces your customers to contact you to get information or, in the end, to ask for a refund. It affects brands perception, and decrease loyalty. Is this what you want?

Ultimately, you must remember that the road to DCX hell is full of good intentions.

 

Photo by J W on Unsplash

 

Download our brand new report, Digital Innovation in Retail & Fashion, and discover why you must know and understand your customers before even thinking about selling, and how you can use personalization to deliver relevant experiences that drive loyalty and increase value.

Schermata 2018-09-17 alle 15.40.21

Topics: digital transformation Digital Customer Experience customer engagement

Ethereum - How The Blockchain Is Leading The Way To The Future Of Business

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Blockchain is certainly one of the most hyped words of the last couple of years. Everybody is talking about blockchain - often confusing it with the Bitcoin - and how this technology may change our world, and the way we do business, in the next future.

Decentralization, transparency and ledger immutability are among the promises this disruptive technology intends to fulfill. At the same time blockchain technology is still in its early stages of development. This is the first in a series of articles dedicated to this fascinating - but in some respects still very obscure - topic.

Among many blockchain networks already live, Ethereum is surely one of the most interesting and promising. From a technological standpoint Ethereum has been praised also by the Chinese Government in a recent assessment of blockchain networks.

Ethereum is a decentralised virtual machine empowered with blockchain technology on which developers and companies will deploy smart contracts and has the potential to become one of the cornerstones of 2.0 web architecture.

One of the major obstacles faced when analysing blockchain networks is that in most cases there aren’t comprehensive reports that take into account all the primary/material aspects required to assess multidisciplinary architectures such as Ethereum (IT, financial and legal analysis among others).

Many different elements shall be taken into account (such as the ecosystem the relevant blockchain network intend to deploy, the composition of the development team and the use of the funds raised in the context of the ICO) in order to have a comprehensive and useful framework to understand such projects.

Furthermore, following the issue of the white paper, many projects rely on blog posts, webinars and interviews to inform their communities about the progress in the roadmap; gathering and reshaping the information in an easy-to-read document is certainly not an easy-to-do task.

If on the one side one of the most common buzzwords among the blockchain / cryptocurrency community is “DYOR” (do your own research) on the other side most of the potentially interested people and companies do not have the time, knowledge and/or resources to do their research on a myriad of projects. In fact, DYOR means to carry out your own due diligence for each project, and if due diligence is not your core business it is likely that this will take a lot of time and effort.

Black Swan DAR is issuing a series of professional reports on blockchain networks that focus on smart contract deployment (such as Ethereum). Due diligence is an investigation and analysis activity carried out by third party independent professionals to evaluate risks and opportunities underlying a transaction. 

All the reports are drafted under the same framework, in order to make comparative analysis easier and intuitive. The Ethereum report is divided in 10 different sections related to, inter alia, the ecosystem, the token and its function within the blockchain network, the team, the use of proceeds from the ICO, strategic partners, etc..

The first section of the report is an executive summary, in which the most significant issues and red flags arose out of the due diligence process are gathered. For example, with respect to Ethereum, Black Swan DAR notes that:

(i) Ethereum is an open source multi-layered project which purpose is to create a flexible and distributed platform for decentralized applications (so-called dApps) and smart contracts; the project is open source and is community-driven, with the Ethereum Foundation acting as the leader.

Ethereum combines a generalized peer-to-peer networking platform with a blockchain architecture to deliver a decentralized consensus-based, full-stack platform for developing, offering and using smart contracts and dApps. In order to achieve the flexibility required to deploy smart contracts of any kind Ethereum has a built-in fully fledged quasi-Turing-complete programming language;

(ii) the Ethereum framework includes several different components that, together, are the foundational layer for smart contracts deployment. Among the core components of the framework it is opportune to name, among others, the cryptographic tokens, the address system, the network of validators (miners), the consensus algorithm, the blockchain ledger and the Ethereum virtual machine;

(iii) as Ethereum is a general purpose, programmable, blockchain network, its reference market is the aggregate market for all blockchain applications, including dApps and smart contracts that may be developed over time;

(iv) scalability is perhaps the main issue related to blockchain projects, including Ethereum. The scalability issue was envisaged to be solved in 2017 with the implementation of the PoS (proof of stake) consensus algorithm. Unfortunately, the debate about whether to proceed with PoS and how to build the consensus algorithm is still open, and there is no clear solution planned for the road ahead.

Other sections of interest are surely the section related to the Ethereum ecosystem, in the context of which a thorough analysis of the project is carried out, the section related to the token, in which the function and value of ETH are explained, and the section related to the strategic partners of the projects, useful to understand which players are entering the playing field to support Ethereum.

It might be a breakthrough technology but it is safe to say that, today, the blockchain looks like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it and so claims to do it. These free reports can help you understand what the fuss is all about, and how you can do it safely and productively.

DOWNLOAD THE ETHEREUM REPORT

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Photo by Mike Kononov on Unsplash

Topics: digital transformation blockchain Innovation

Neosperience at Think 2018 - Strengthening Customer Engagement With Artificial Intelligence

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What is the key to building a successful organization in the digital age? It will be discussed at Think 2018, the week-long event organized in Milano by IBM, a real journey through the world of cloud and artificial intelligence.

Dario Melpignano, CEO of Neosperience, illustrates how companies need to use technological innovations to build personal and useful relationships with their customers. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6 at 15:30 with the panel "Strengthening Customer Engagement with Artificial Intelligence".

The disruptive power of the digital transformation has involved - sometimes with overwhelming effects - every industry and internal function of the organizations. The smartphone, at the forefront of this innovative process, has stopped being a simple channel, to become a real proxy of the customer.

The path of change towards digital and emerging technologies has forced Brands to move towards an increasingly customer-centered model. Working on customer engagement means precisely this: delivering personalized customer experiences, overcoming the problems that derive from the fragmentation of tools and channels.

People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” With this famous phrase, Theodore Roosevelt had already exemplified the value of the customer experience well before the actual start of the digital revolution. You will never be able to engage and retain your customers if you do not know them in the first place.

As a matter of facts, accelerating digital transformation means adopting a mobile-first approach, identifying insight in real time and using this information to build and strengthen the empathic relationship with the customer. This translates into the development of personalized experiences that retain and increase the value of the Brand.

The future of customer engagement, with a focus on the crucial role of Artificial Intelligence, will be the heart of Dario Melpignano's intervention at Think Milano, in a panel moderated by Dicran Babayantz, IBM Watson Customer Engagement Business Unit Leader Italy.

Here is the complete agenda of the round table:
Wednesday, June 6 from 3.30 PM to 5 PM - Hall III

Campus:
Cloud & Data / Artificial Intelligence for Business

Speakers:
- Dario Melpignano, CEO at Neosperience, "visionary" and Mobile Digital Business pioneer for USA-Europe
- Laura Iacovone, Mktg Professor in Competitive Analysis Consumer & Shopping Behavior and Advertising
- Alessandro De Biasio, Partner and Board Member, Head of Strategy and Innovation Practice The European House Ambrosetti
- Alessia Scarpocchi, Mktg Director Apoteca Natura Strategies & Web Aboca Group

For further information about the agenda and to register, please head to Think 2018 official page.

Topics: digital transformation Neosperience customer engagement Digital Customer Experience

TNW Conference - How the Softer Side of AI Will Unlock the Power of DCX

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May 24 and 25, 2018, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: the future of technology was there, at the TNW Conference 2018, the award-winning 2-day European festival dedicated to innovation, marketing, communication, and creativity.

With 19 tracks of content, a huge variety of topics was covered: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning changing companies' businesses; Design thinking transforming our work and helping us solving complex problems: new Marketplaces growing retailers' e-commerce exponentially; Virtual and Augmented Reality making physical and digital objects coexist simultaneously; and many others.

In this wide range of specialties, what are the key insights for the digital experience leaders? Here are the three main trends we have observed.

Artificial Intelligence will turn into Emotional Intelligence
Opening the 'Machine: Learners' track, Cassie Kozyrkov, Chief Decision Scientist at Google, shares her thoughts on the decision intelligence engineering, the emerging discipline that focuses on using ML and AI to improve companies’ businesses.

In a statement, she has captured the attention of the entire audience: 2030 will be the age of emotional intelligence. The Human-AI symbiosis that will take place in the next years will shape the way brands connect with customers across all digital and physical touchpoints, making their relationship closer, personal and intimate.

That will become possible thanks to the ability for Machine Learning and Deep Learning to foster and advance brands' social skills, enabling them to change their communication style depending on what customers’ emotions and reactions are.

If the customer is in a hurry and impatient, or anxious and stressed out, brands will be ready to deliver a different experience than if s/he's calm and relaxed; just like a good seller does when dealing with customers in the store.

Context-aware Artificial Intelligence unlocks the power of Customer Experience
In a world where customer expectations are constantly evolving, 89% of companies believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition (Gartner, 2015). That is how Adrian McDermott, President of Products at Zendesk, started what has been one of the most eye-opening speeches of the event.

Artificial Intelligence solutions can help companies to increase customer satisfaction by providing:

- Automation, which removes repetitive work - think of an answer bot instead of a customer service professional).
- Recommendation, that uses content cues to inform decisions customers make - by offering, for example, the right information and help at the right moment.
- Prediction, able to spot trends that humans can’t see - such the expected customer satisfaction, the probability that a customer will become loyal to your brand, or that s/he will recommend your product to others.

Over the coming years, these three AI-based levers will allow leading companies to:

- Embrace a people-first approach, which means, capturing the customer behind the analytics and beyond purely objective data such as demographics.
- Adopt a growth mindset, by figuring out what their customer segments look like and A/B testing what kind of interactions they should activate across those segments.
- Deliver seamless omnichannel experiences and context-based conversations with customers, to close the gap with customers' habits and make them live comprehensive shopping experiences.

Digital communication will move to dialogue
By 2020, the average person will have more conversation with their bot than with their spouse (Gartner, 2016). What is certain is that, within the next few years, having a bot in your app and website will go from being an optional nice-to-have to an essential must-have.

If misdesigned, however, you’ll have a frustrating user interface that will drive your customers away, explains Purna Virji, Senior Manager of Global Engagement at Microsoft. Convinced that we can do much better than state of the art, she reveals us the key principles of designing conversational AI; those that she calls the "4 C's":

A. Clarity.
Mind your language, create a conversational flow and see what sounds natural. To avoid "robotic" perceptions, write for the ear and not for the eye, as the right words to create engagement and trust are not those beautiful to read but those that are nice to hear.

B. Character.
People prefer a virtual agent with an easy-to-perceive personality: it can be warm, formal, or even funny ... For example, if a customer says “thank you” at the end of a conversation, a professional bot will reply “you’re welcome,” while a more empathic bot can answer “you bet!”, and a very friendly one can say “no prob.”

But be careful: do not fall into the trap of turning the bot into a fake human. The goal isn’t for the customer to think they’re talking to a real person, so it’s best if the bot is easy to get to know, with a specific personality, but still clearly a bot.

C. Compassion.
Stepping into your customers’ shoes and making your user interface better understand and resonate with them is probably the most struggling point for today's bots. Think, for example, of their common reactions to small talk.

Even though encountering small talk is pretty common for a bot, that's where conversation often breaks. Quite simply, if a customer says "tks" instead of "thanks" it is pretty common to see the bot reply "Sorry. I do not understand”. Thus, building small talk scenarios becomes essential to avoid the embarrassing “Sorry I don’t understand.”

D. Correction.
There are lots of ways to correct an error without having to say "Sorry." One possible strategy, which also promotes sales, is to offer alternatives: if a customer asks for ordering red tulips, but these are unfortunately out of stock, instead of saying "Sorry, we are out of stock of red tulips" the bot can reply "We’re out of red tulips, would you like yellow or orange tulips instead?". After all, is that not what a good seller would do?

To conclude, this year's edition of the TNW Conference has given us significant insights that we can bring to the Digital Customer Experience environment. If “the world is machine readable,” as stated by Kevin Kelly, Co-founder of WIRED, during his compelling speech, we can add that it should be the same for customers, and for the way they think, feel and behave towards brands.

But - citing McDermott's words - “Oil has no value as you can’t extract energy from it. The same is for data. They have no value as you can’t extract knowledge from them.

That is why companies need to learn how to use Artificial Intelligence solutions to understand who their customers truly are, and thus build better products and experiences, designed for humans.

 

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

 

Topics: Artificial Intelligence digital transformation psychographics

MIT Predicts The 10 Breakthrough Technologies For 2018

breakthrough-technologies

When you talk about the future of technology, you have two different approaches. The first one is to look into the distance the way Sci-Fi writers do, working with the imagination to push the boundaries of what the human mind can create.

The second approach is to aim at a closer target, looking at what is already going on. This is exactly what the MIT does with its annual prediction of the 10 breakthrough technologies that will lead the evolution of business and society, starting from today.

The list has been published in the recent March/April release of the MIT Technology Review magazine, the reference point for everyone interested in knowing what’s coming next. This top 10 includes the technologies believed to make the most impact over the next 12 months.

"This is our attempt to alert our readers: These are the technologies that you really need to or should pay attention to next year, and also going into the next few years," MIT Tech Review's editor David Rotman told Business Insider.

What does it mean ‘breakthrough’? Scrolling through the previous 17 editions of the list, you can find a few key benchmarks for defining this term: mass commercial use, foreseeable mass commercial adoption and, most of all, the profound impact on our lives.

With the words of Gideon Lichfield, editor in chief of MIT Technology Review, “our annual list of 10 world-changing technologies invariably defies attempts to find an overarching theme. But a look back at the past few years shows a trend: we’re including more and more advances in artificial intelligence”.

There is no doubt that the AI will play - and is already playing - a huge role in the development of many aspects of our lives: the way we communicate and build relationships; how we work and find jobs; the strategy of businesses and organizations; how we take care of our health; the way Brands personalize the customer experience to appeal people's uniqueness.

3D METAL PRINTING

While 3D printing has been around for a while now, printing objects in other materials than plastic has been quite a dream (an expensive one). Now we are moving towards the ability to create large, intricate metal structures on demand; something that could revolutionize manufacturing, a new era for the 4.0 Enterprise.

ARTIFICIAL EMBRYOS

With the embryos, we face a topic hotly debated for its ethical and philosophical problems. And yet the research is moving faster than legislation and political debate. For the first time, researchers have made embryo-like structures from stem cells alone, without using egg or sperm cells, thus providing a new understanding of how life comes into existence.

SENSING CITY

For years we have heard about the smart city, but it is now time for an even smarter smart city. In Toronto, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs are already implementing sensors and analytics in order to rethink how we build and live cities. Sensing cities could make urban areas more affordable and citizen’s friendly.

AI FOR EVERYBODY

Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing in technology; there is no doubt about that. The only brake to its full application has always been the high costs of development. But now cloud-based AI is making the technology cheaper and easier to use, opening the market to many more companies.

DUELLING NEURAL NETWORKS

Right now the Artificial Intelligence can learn and identify things based on the processed data, but what if it could also have an ‘imagination’? Companies such as Google Brain, DeepMind and Nvidia are now matching two AI systems that can help each other to create original images, and generate something akin to a sense of imagination.

BABEL FISH EARBUDS

Google's omnipresence in this list shows that the company is not ‘just’ a search engine anymore. The Pixel Buds show the promise of near-real-time translation. The technology is still young and clunky, but it could help overcome the barrier of communication in an increasingly global world (in the wake of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

ZERO-CARBON NATURAL GAS

The brand new smart city requires a different approach to energy supply and distribution. The answer could be in a new approach to natural-gas plants, made to efficiently and cheaply capture carbon released by burning natural gas, thus avoiding greenhouse emissions.

PERFECT ONLINE PRIVACY

The most urgent issue of the digital era is the use (and abuse) of personal information. As shown by the Cambridge Analytica affair and the GDPR legislation, the road to the perfect online privacy is still long, but blockchain could help to make it faster. Computer scientists, in fact, are perfecting a cryptographic tool to carry out transactions without revealing any more information than necessary.

GENETIC FORTUNE-TELLING

Our destiny is written in our genes. This is science, not science fiction. The study of the genome can help scientists understand and predict diseases and human traits. DNA-based predictions could be the next significant public health advance, but will also pose an ethical problem. Will the next evolution of discrimination be based on genetics?

MATERIALS’ QUANTUM LEAP

What is the next step in the evolution of computing? Quantum computing seems to be the correct answer, as recently shown by the use of a quantum computer to model the electronic structure of a simple molecule. Understanding molecules will allow chemists to design more effective drugs and better materials, but the prospect of a new wave powerful computers comes with a question: What should (and could) we do with so much power?

Photo by Billy Huynh on Unsplash

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Topics: digital transformation Machine Learning Artificial Intelligence Google

How Mobile Has Rewritten The Rules - No More Idle Micro Moments

mobile moments

A few days ago, while waiting for my turn at the post office, I have witnessed the definitive disappearance of the downtime. Do you remember how boring was to carry out some dull activities only ten years ago?

Well, we have now said goodbye to the idle moments. The smartphone is the key to unlock the potential of those moments when we have nothing to do but waiting and waiting. The queue has never been so exciting.

Mind you, we are not saying that we will not be stuck in the waiting rooms in the next future. The digital disruption has changed a lot but, at least till now, we still have to face the boredom from time to time.

What has changed is the quality of these experiences. The random unattractive magazines stacked on the table of the doctor’s waiting room have given way to the smartphone. Thus, we have the whole world in our hands.

We live in the era of the Micro Moments and no idle moments are allowed anymore. Google has tackled this important matter in a recent article published on Think With Google. The post, titled “How mobile became a power tool in idle moments”, starts from the awareness that:

“The smartphone has become indispensable in getting things done. In our latest research, we found that 75% of people say their smartphones help them to be more productive. But it’s more than that. Productivity has an emotional impact as well. Fifty-four percent of people say their phones reduce stress and/or anxiety in their lives.”

And we all know how stressful it can be to stand in line waiting for a turn that never comes.

Mobile quickly delivers results when they’re impatient, provides inspiration at their fingertips when they’re curious, and gives them a personalized experience when they’re demanding one.

Google researchers have identified five typical scenarios when people turn to their phones to fight boredom.

A SPARK

This happens, for example, when something either just pops into your head or you are triggered by something you see.

AN URGENT NEED

This happens, for example, when you suddenly realize that you need something and you don’t know where to get it.

IN-STORE ASSISTANCE

This happens, for example, when you are strolling through the store’s aisles and use the smartphone to look for info, discounts, reviews.

MICRO-PRODUCTIVITY

This happens, for example, when you are stuck somewhere and scroll the list of things to do to move forward.

PLANNING AHEAD

This happens, for example, when you use the phone to plan the next moves in your life, from weekend trips to important purchases.

This is the story from customers’ perspective. What about your Brand? What about your marketing strategy? How can you exploit these micro moments to engage your customers and win their loyalty?

We leave you with a pretty interesting video, highlighting how mobile is impacting the opportunities and challenges for Brand and marketers.

 

 

 

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Topics: digital transformation Mobile customer engagement