Online and mobile technologies shaped the success of many businesses and industries last year. As a result of this shift, 2018 was undeniably a year of change with many businesses choosing to focus on improving their customer experience.

With this in mind, we’re certain that this year will make even bigger strides in streamlining a number of interactions. We’ve pulled together some of the key technologies we think are going to have real influence on the overall customer experience and omnichannel approach in 2019.

1. 5G

The next generation of mobile networks is billed as being as much as 100 times faster than our current 4G networks. With the introduction of 5G also comes the possibility of further connected devices through the Internet of Things.

5G will ensure that downloads, browsing, streaming and sharing will all be far quicker for both businesses and consumers. EE recently announced that 5G will first launch across five cities including London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester during the middle of 2019.

As 5G becomes more widely spread it’s expected that consumers will come to rely even more on their devices to deliver a range of online experiences.

2. RCS

Billed as the next evolution of SMS, RCS offers business the opportunity to deliver interactive experiences through messaging alone. Using RCS, businesses combine the direct, personalised benefits of SMS with richer content and a real-time experience similar to social media messaging.

Branded messages enable a customer to complete an entire purchase journey without leaving the messaging app. As it stands RCS is currently only available on a limited number of networks on a trial basis. However, it is set to be rolled out as the main integrated messaging app across all mobile devices.

3. Omnichannel engagement

With such a diverse range of channels, it is becoming increasingly difficult for brands to manage communications across multiple channels.

Businesses will look to streamline the process of omnichannel engagement through one integrated system. Omnichannel simply means using multiple communication methods effectively. Using multiple channels helps businesses to better manage mobile messaging and systems whilst effectively delivering on customer expectations.

Our latest product IMIconnect integrates all these channels and more with your existing systems through one single platform. Using just one system enables customers to communicate through their preferred channel, while internal staff can manage and reply using one window.

4. Voice assistants

The introduction of voice assistants has taken voice search to a whole new level, one that the new year is set to continue. Our voice assistants offer far more than just search. They’re a handy reminder to buy milk, inform you that you’ve got an appointment at 2.00pm or that your order is due for delivery this morning.

In 2019 voice search will begin integrating with retail stores more widely, enabling consumers to complete purchases of all kinds more efficiently. Towards the end of 2018, brands began integrating their online catalogue with Google search. The key reason for this integration was to enable customers to shop through their voice assistants.

As the year goes on, this is a trend even more retailers are looking to follow, delivering convenience through technology. Voice assistants will be able to search online, play our favourite music and crucially, shop in a far wider variety of stores using simple voice commands.

5. AI-assisted customer engagement

AI in voice search and conversational service is becoming more prevalent, helping businesses offer more human-like automated responses to our queries. Conversational content will also be making a big impact in SEO, with search results reflecting the shift in voice-based queries.

Through AI and additional integrations, businesses are already making great strides into automated online customer journeys. Consumers are able to make appointments and reservations through entirely automated communications. Businesses need only link their booking system or CRM with AI technologies and bots.

6. Chatbots

Chatbots remain at the top of the digital trends lists, providing a solution to the challenge of convenient communication for consumers.

Chatbot technology enables consumers to solve issues in real-time through a number of devices, embodying the anytime- anywhere solution.

7. AR and the customer experience

AR will play an even bigger role in the customer experience both in-store and online. AR provides consumers and businesses with so many opportunities to visualise the end result of a purchase, far beyond clothing and makeup.

In an effort to embrace the digitisation of shopping, this technology provides bricks and mortar stores with the ability to help customers visualise what a new purchase could look like in their home.

8. Check out free technologies/ Blending the online and offline experiences

In a leap forwards from self-service checkouts, many retailers are investing heavily in providing their consumers with check out free technology. Giving in-store customers the ability to pay for their items through mobile phones while they shop, creating an entirely checkout free experience.

One of the biggest pain points for consumers shopping in-store has been identified as queuing. The ability to pay for items through a smartphone or mobile app removes the issue of long queues. This solution also further blends the mobile and in-store experiences, improving overall customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

2019 is set to be another year of change for all industries. The move to further streamline and improve the customer experience with additional technologies and channels is dramatically increasing. The shopping experience and customer service strategy of the future is being undeniably shaped by innovations like these.

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