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PHOTO: Ivan Pergasi

Technology options to drive customer experience are plentiful, with vendors offering everything from database options to personalization technology to a host of other solutions. With so many options, it can be challenging to choose which technologies you need to boost CX.

Here are the seven most impactful solutions, according to analysts and marketers:

1. Customer Data Management

“Data is the fuel that allows organizations to unlock greater business value,” said Erik Duffield, managing director, GM in the Deloitte Digital experience management practice.

Marketers first need control over their data in order to extract value. “Customer data management tools, like customer data platforms, give marketers control of vast amounts of customer data, visibility into how their target consumers make decisions, and insight into which customer experience improvements to prioritize. These tools proactively capture and store data through a variety of channels — such as first party data, web and commerce behavior and campaign data — making it easier to analyze and react to large amounts of complex data more efficiently and with increased accuracy.”

Related Article: What Can You Do With a Customer Data Platform?

2. Cloud-Based Solutions

Several marketers said that whatever CX technologies a company chooses, they should be based in the cloud, not on-premises.

“Modern businesses, particularly those embracing the remote-work set-up, are becoming more global,” said Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva. “A global team requires a platform that allows them to access company files anytime, anywhere.”

The solutions that will benefit the most from being cloud-based, according to Masjedi, are project management, collaboration and file-sharing. “Cloud-based technology makes it easier to attend to the demands of customers. All cloud-based technology needs is a stable and reliable internet connection to function correctly.”

3. Omnichannel Technology

Disjointed customer experience journeys are a common pain point that can be addressed by omnichannel technologies, or technology responsible for orchestrating decisioning across all customer touchpoints — and maintaining conversations across all communication channels, according to Duffield. Technologies enabling machine learning operations empower complex decision-making at scale when humans can’t — this level of insight is a necessary element for CX.

“While humans have a natural tendency to compartmentalize, organizational structures were also developed in a siloed reality,” Duffield said. “These technologies help eliminate silos and develop rich connections between data and systems — helping brands to reach consumers with the content that’s important to them at the right time.”

Related Article: Personalization: Where Data and Content Intersect

4. Artificial Intelligence for Customer Service

AI is another technology often cited as essential for excellent CX.

“Companies that use AI for their customer service have shorter queuing lines because AI already screens customers that need human intervention from those that don’t,” Masjedi said. “Most of the time, customers have the same problem and require the same solution. When customer service representatives tend to these customers one-by-one, it becomes time-consuming and laborious."

AI-based chats help eliminate that problem with preprogrammed instructions, Masjedi explained. “You can add answers to frequently asked questions to narrow down your list of customers. With this method, you limit your costs by reducing customer concerns that require human assistance.”

Masjedi and others pointed out AI is essential in the effectiveness of chatbots, helping automate the delivery of customer service. When done correctly, this boosts CX.

5. Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics can sift through huge amounts of customer data to uncover valuable insights, said Matt Bertram, CEO and SEO strategist at EWR Digital. “These insights can be applied to your entire customer base on an individual basis to improve customer experience and win customers’ loyalty. Specific benefits include boosting customer retention, recovering at-risk customers, and identifying new opportunities to sell products and services.”

Related Article: A Pragmatic View of Predictive Analytics

6. Authentication and Identification Management

Perhaps the most under-discussed tool among marketers is Authentication and Identity Management, according to Jason Gaikowski, executive director, customer experience and global lead of human-centered design for CX and brand experience agency VMLY&R. “Without these crucial technologies, it would be difficult or impossible to recognize ‘who’ the customer is. Additionally, I think we all can agree that a poor log-in process can break even the most expertly designed customer experience. The ability to recognize a customer in a friction free manner is a foundational building block for excellent CX.”

As an extension of authentication, personalization solutions enable companies to treat different customers differently, Gaikowski added. “While ‘personalization at scale’ hasn’t always delivered on the promise of precision media, great CX ultimately relies on recognizing when and how to deliver positive emotional benefits. Personalization is key to delivering experiences that make customers feel special and should be central to any CX management system.”

7. Customer Experience Measurement

“Measuring CX is essential,” Duffield said. “It’s also very complex. It requires technologies that actively measure the voice of the customer through surveys, as well as passively measure experience and behavior, and being able to link the two. Creating a repeating cycle of data to insights to action is a required discipline to deliver an experience that drives results.”