Advanced search technology is revolutionizing customer relations for organizations in all fields. This shift—along with a proliferation of wearable devices, automatic voice interactions, and predictive support technology—will mold the future of customer service as it advances over the next 25 years.

Evolving CRM Practices

Customers in the future will connect automatically (rather than call and search) to answers via voice or action through wearable devices. Those smart devices will be aware of the customers' history and past activities with various products, their related challenges, and even their state of mind (based on biometric data).

The customers' actions, combined with their "persona," will drive suggested solutions to product-related challenges they face in real time. Contextual information will be pushed to support agents via the products customers are using, which may also "know" the customers' history and preferences. So, agents will be able to automatically provide help without customers needing to take any action to request assistance. Customer service will mirror the role of a personal assistant, sitting beside the customer and offering the next best action to take.

The richness of information available from wearable devices, the Internet, and social systems, along with constant streams of information about other customers' experiences, intents and activities, will provide detailed context that will lead to highly relevant suggestions. Doing so will be made possible by advances in data hosting, and search and relevance technology, which will be embedded in every customer interaction point.

What Will Change, What Won't

Though customers are already beginning to expect brands to engage with them via social channels and forums, they will become accustomed to engagement becoming much more proactive. Increasing and enhancing engagement will become an ongoing challenge for companies. The organizations that continue to evolve and offer heightened levels of proactive customer engagement will dominate the conversation.

Compared to today, technology will have an even greater role in the customer experience. Considering the technology behind machine-to-machine scenarios and the Internet of Things, there is a lot of room for growth. Interaction with human agents will always remain in some form, but human representatives will take on more and more marketing and sales-related roles, and agent engagement will be required only around the most complex challenges on a support front. Otherwise, customers will self-serve or their machines and devices will self-serve.

Connecting the Data

The technologies that will shape the future of customer experience will use, make sense of and connect the vast amounts of data and information available to companies. Both the challenge and the opportunity will grow along with the amount of data available; companies will not be able to compete without leveraging data in real time. The competitive necessity of up-leveling customer experience is what underpins the digital transformation companies are beginning to undergo today and will continue to drive businesses to unlock new innovative technologies far into the future, whether they fuel person-to-person, person-to-technology, or technology-to-technology exchanges.

Search and relevance technology will continue to be a key enabler of optimizing customer experience. This technology allows companies to present content within the user's context today and will enable mass personalization and one-on-one customer engagement in the future. Advanced search and relevance technology will continue to emerge as the only effective way to connect the huge variety and volume of data and contextualize it for people —and potentially machines.

A crucial part of this search and relevance technology includes unified indexing capabilities, which constantly ingest data from all systems and channels and make connections among the data. Within the index, data is enriched, metadata is extracted (without manual tagging), and all security is respected.

Most importantly, the relevance engine ensures that people engage only with information important to them, eliminating the noise and honing in on what is relevant. Ubiquitous access to this information via any device and any system will bring relevant knowledge to people in the systems where they "live."

Many companies are experimenting with manual methods of implementing predictive customer engagement and are heading in the right direction. However, the cutting-edge leaders are achieving significant differentiation by automatically bringing data into the context of their users, wherever and whenever they need predictive intelligence.

As search technology continues to advance to a predictive level while integrating with CRM software systems, we can expect customer service interactions 25 years from now to take customer experience to a new level by not only meeting customer needs but anticipating those needs and meeting them in real time.

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image of Diane  Berry

Diane Berry is chief knowledge evangelist at Coveo, an advanced enterprise search provider.

LinkedIn: Diane Berry

Twitter: @dianemberry