Five Tech Trends that will Shape South Africa’s Online Business World in 2018

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Digitisation plays a key role in the functioning of any business. From accounting to customer service to marketing – technological innovation makes processes quicker and more efficient, and makes it easier to respond to competition. More importantly, businesses which take advantage of these technologies will be uniquely positioned to deliver excellent customer service.

The digital boom is giving rise to trends that change consumer behaviour faster than ever, and businesses that lag behind risk their survival in the marketplace. “Go digital or die” was a major takeaway from Dimension Data’s 2014 Global Consumer Experience Benchmarking Report. Yet, three years later, the 2017 edition of the report, which can be downloaded here, found that organisations around the world are failing to implement effective digital customer experience (CX) strategies.

“The digital dilemma is deepening, and organisations need to choose a path between digital crisis or redemption,” Manuele, Dimension Data’s group executive for CX and collaboration, was quoted saying in the report. With this piece of advice in mind, here are technology trends from 5 Factors That Will Shape Future Trends In Contact Centre Outsourcing, courtesy of Merchants, that online businesses looking for better ways to improve their digital and CX strategies can act upon in 2018.

Businesses will increasingly rely on cloud-based services

Locally hosted software applications that ruled the last two decades are giving way to a new kind of collaboration: cloud computing. This software enables businesses to quickly access and manage their files and resources and perform CRM tasks in a shared network.

Due to its ease of use and cost effectiveness, cloud computing is particularly beneficial to organisations that are non-technical or cannot afford an in-house IT specialist. And, organisations handing over control of their cloud computing to a third party business process management provider, won’t have to worry about installation, security, and upgrading challenges as these will be automatically handled by the vendor partner.

Omni-channel will be a necessity rather than a choice

The 2017 Customer Experience Benchmarking Report draws attention to an important pattern: that today’s customers expect ease of use, resolution convenience and consistent experiences when they interact with businesses. This means that they want all points of contact woven as one experience. Customers want to be able to research a product on a desktop shopping site, check reviews on social media, make a purchase on their mobile phone, collect their order in store, and phone in with a customer complaint. Aside from adopting new technologies such as chatbots and self-service, businesses can also leverage existing channels to brand themselves as an omni-channel champion. For example, they can improve their social media response times and personalise every interaction with customers.

Video chat will bring new value to customer support

The customer service landscape has changed considerably in the age of the digital revolution, but despite the growing dependence on faceless communication (interactive website, email, live chat) there’s a not-so-new kid on the block that may just be the next big thing in customer support.

The reason why video chat has such huge potential in customer service is that it feeds the customer’s desire for immediate satisfaction. This type of interaction helps businesses to solve issues faster through show-and-tell demonstrations, while improving the agent-customer relationship.

Social media will continue to influence engagement

In the past, social media was mostly synonymous with marketing and providing business updates. But now that more consumers use Facebook and Twitter to express dissatisfaction, submit a query, or show appreciation, organisations may well start to think about incorporating social media into their digital strategies.

The increasing popularity of social media means businesses have the opportunity to use social media as a tool to create lasting relationships rather than just selling their products. In 2018, it will be absolutely essential to provide social media support if businesses want to keep their followers happy and engaged.

Brands will understand customers better through big data

Big data has gone from buzzword to must-have in the business world. With around 2.7 zettabytes of data currently existing in the digital universe today, there’s no denying that information is out there and will be another key trend to watch in 2018. To enhance the business’s performance, it’s critical to record, analyse, and optimise operations based on comments and the feedback the systems provide. This should be done in primary areas including customer surveys/feedback, pipelines and sales, and call data.

These are just a handful of trends we can expect to see in the business world in the coming year. There are of course lots more – artificial intelligence, automation and blockchain are definitely worth highlighting – but the above trends are the ones that will likely have the most widespread impact on business operations in 2018.

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