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Customer experience is becoming a huge focus across industries, and technology is playing a starring role in its evolution.

Technology is making everything more computerized and automated; nevertheless, customers are feeling more and more that businesses are listening to their individual wants and needs.

Why? Let's take a look at some hot trends in customer service.

1. Businesses are focusing on emotional intelligence to better understand and respond to customers

Put simply, emotional intelligence is the ability to relate and empathize with others, ultimately enabling positive interactions. That is not a new concept in business, as the business worldwide adopted Daniel Goleman's 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence. In fact, Goleman's principles are still the cornerstone of leadership courses around the world, and 20 years later, businesses as a whole (not just the leaders within them) are finally embracing emotional intelligence.

So, what does it take to be an emotionally intelligent business?

Empathy.

Businesses need to demonstrate that they listen to their customers and understand customers' wants and needs.

On a one-to-one level, social media interactions are extremely powerful for displaying that personal touch. For example, even a customer who complains about an experience on a business's Facebook page presents an opportunity for a personalized, empathetic response that is publicly available for anyone to see.

On a one-to-many level, businesses can aggregate customer feedback data to detect common sentiments and make large-scale improvements. Businesses that demonstrate emotional intelligence will more easily win new customers, increase loyalty, and ultimately gain market share.

New technologies have driven this shift because they allow businesses to interpret customer needs and wants in meaningful, actionable ways.

An emotionally intelligent business will collect customer feedback at all stages of this journey... and not just in the form of structured surveys. Call-center recordings, online reviews, open-ended surveys, and social media provide businesses with a complete view of customer sentiment at every stage of the journey.

2. Predictive analytics are driving one-to-one responses

The one-to-many model has already gained traction, but one-to-one level interaction—involving a single customer with an issue that may be unique to him or her—requires more sophisticated analytics.

It has been standard for businesses to manage one-to-one interactions via call centers and email... but that will change. Businesses this year will begin to automate the resolution for the individual and will rely more heavily on social customer care.

This one-to-one model will provide customers the ability to service their own customer care without waiting for a human response. Marketers will also be able to more accurately target promotions and dynamic online content.

By combining demographic data with purchase history, search history, and unstructured feedback, marketers can predict the products or services a customer will most likely be interested in purchasing.

3. Interactions between businesses and customers are becoming less and less structured

Mark Zuckerberg recently said Facebook will be mostly video in five years. Whether the social media giant will be dominated by video is yet to be seen, but Zuckerberg is onto something, generally speaking.

The sheer volume of available content and the need to consume it quickly are driving the video trend. In the online world, visual experiences especially are more personal and meaningful than text interactions are. If a picture is worth a thousand words, it's not surprising that images and video are already trumping text for sharing content on social media.

Businesses seeking to raise their emotional intelligence need to interpret multimedia feedback and respond in ways that take sentiment into account. The ability to identify and curate images that resonate with customer sentiment is extremely powerful, and it's one key aspect of improving emotional intelligence.

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Unstructured feedback and a focus on emotional intelligence will help businesses make their customer experiences more personalized, empathetic, and human... all of which are key to keeping customers happy—and business booming.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Sid Banerjee

Sid Banerjee is CEO and cofounder of Clarabridge, which enables Fortune 2000 and government customers to transform text into valuable information.

LinkedIn: Sid Banerjee