It's, therefore, pivotal that organisations position themselves to deliver experiences on par with (if not better) than those offered by their competitors and even players in other verticals. That, in turn, means investing in technology.

That's not to say that organisations should invest in technology for its own sake. Any investment should be considered and part of a digital transformation strategy that emphasises customer communication.

With that in mind, there are certain technologies that are more helpful when it comes to customer communication management (CCM):

1. Artificial Intelligence and journey orchestration

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to fundamentally change the face of customer experiences. Right now, companies typically have enough data to apply more advanced journey personalisation, but they are only applying the basics in order to pre-select the right channel, time and tone for each customer.

Properly leveraged, however, that data can take the customer experience to the next level.

The next level of personalisation is achieved by applying artificial intelligence to big data to predict the future behaviour of a customer. It then can orchestrate the journey accordingly in real-time.

AI is used to identify the ideal step or offer that is most likely to result in action from the customer. It is also useful for providing content based on that prediction to prompt the user's next action.

All experiences need to be hyper-personalised and not just based on previous behaviour and preferences. It must be using technology to perform predictive analysis that incorporates what the customer needs next.

Ultimately, AI and journey orchestration can enable the kind of communication that is most useful to customers as individuals.

2. Chatbots

It doesn't seem all that long ago that artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots were a new, futuristic-seeming technology, with analysts trying to predict how they might be used.

Now, one can hardly go onto a website without encountering one. When used properly, this technology can be an innovative way of helping customers help themselves. Chatbots are a great addition to self-service channels.

But there's a big difference between simply having a chatbot (sometimes referred to as a virtual assistant) versus making them a successful part of your customer communication strategy.

Organisations need to intentionally drive chatbot adoption and position the chatbot for maximum convenience. Properly integrating chatbots into key digital communications creates a symbiotic relationship between these channels that provides a new, highly convenient entry point for customers.

3. Personalised video

It's hardly news that people like watching videos online. On YouTube alone, almost five billion videos are watched every single day. But video isn't just useful for entertainment. It's also a powerful way of presenting personal information in a visual way to make it easier to understand.

It's also a fact that people engage more with personalised content. As such, adding details into a personalised video (like your viewer's name, company, or photo) is the perfect way to engage and delight your audience.

Personalisation in and of itself is not enough, however. Whatever personalised video you send out should also be authentic, which means merging the quantitative data a company has access to, and qualitative information that it has obtained directly from customers and employees.

4. Interactive content

Just as imagery via HTML was a great leap forward for email in the 1990's, and the roll-out of responsive coding for mobile took things to the next level in the late 2000's, so interactive content could define customer communications for the decade to come.

Interactivity continues to help with the evolution and relevance of customer communications. The use of elements such as animations like GIFS, sliders, collapsible menu bars, gamification and video allows you to personalise the customer experience and deliver highly targeted and relevant content.

5. Integrated progressive VOC

A voice of customer (VoC) programme aims to gather and analyse customer insights, allowing you to identify trends and strategies to improve customer experience and deliver positive business outcomes.

Organisations can create a progressive VOC programme by integrating key questions into important communications (e.g. statements) that allow the customer to provide feedback with a single click.

You can then include another question in the next communication that is intelligently selected based on the answer to the previous one. Essentially, what organisations should do is build up a tailored VOC survey over a series of operational communications.

6. eSignatures

Despite being legal in South Africa since 2002, eSignatures have been slow to take off. The events of the past year or so, however, have made them essential to continuing business.

Viewed objectively, there are very obvious benefits that come with adopting eSignatures. Not only are they more convenient, but they can also save the company time and money.

Done properly, eSignatures can also enhance the overall customer experience, allow people to sign documents no matter what device they're using and enhance integration with existing document management processes.

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