It’s official, 2018 has arrived. With the start of every new year comes the cavalcade of predictions, helping businesses and consumers alike to prepare for the year ahead. As such, you probably have read a lot about machine learning, artificial intelligence and chatbots, among other trends. You may even recall our own prediction post for 2018, a singular prediction that the one unified layer of relevance will reign in 2018. Welcome to the world of unified interactions.

While your customers may not be familiar with the term, we can assure you it’s what they want, and what you’ll need to implement to satisfy them this year. It’s certainly worth the read, but if you’re in a pinch, the major takeaway is that the unified layer of relevance will allow every interaction to inform the next interaction, no matter the platform or channel. Unified interactions are made possible by machine learning, usage analytics, and thinking beyond the search box. This will allow you to bring that one-to-one personalization to many. But don’t just take our word for it.

We’ve been keeping our finger on the pulse of 2018 predictions and all signs point to unified interactions.

CustomerThink – Five Things That Will Redefine Customer Experience in 2018

Becoming Truly Omni-Channel – Modern-day customer interactions encompass a wide range of touchpoints – mobile, web, social, interactive voice response (IVR), in-store, chatbots and more. This brings us to the concept of omni-channel. Customers today switch between these different channels frequently, say in the middle of a purchase or even during discovery. We predict that omni-channel is only going to get bigger with the proliferation of channels; therefore, customer journey mapping has to include every touchpoint and channel where your customers have a presence.”

To embrace an omni-channel approach, not only do you need a way to connect all your data points, you also need a way to ensure your customers will have a personalized end-to-end experience, on each and every one of these channels. This would be impossible to do manually.

Enter the unified layer of relevance, an approach to connect all of your different customer interactions and touchpoints from across channels into one continuous experience. Think of it as the truly efficient customer experience. Instead of customers “starting over” with their data and needs if they switch from one channel to another, such as using a mobile app after using the website, the data from the interactions in the first channel inform the interactions in the second channel.

This may seem like a small change, but it is truly revolutionary for your customer experience. With all of the available channels and digital platforms brands are using today, the customer experience has become a fragmented and generic digital experience. It’s frustrating for your customers, and in 2018, it will end or customers will leave.

TSIA – 4 Remote Customer Support Predictions for 2018

Support Teams Need to Become Smarter – Today’s issue isn’t a lack of data, it’s that the data is hard to find, sort, and use. To deliver the level of support customers expect, agents need to first understand the customers they serve. Support teams should know what device a customer has, if they’ve had issues with the device in the past (and what the issues were), if they’ve tried to resolve the problem on their own (and what methods they’ve tried), so that an agent doesn’t increase a customer’s frustration repeating the same steps the customer has already performed.”

Accessing data isn’t the problem, it’s knowing how to understand it so it can inform better business decisions that’s a challenge. With a unified layer of relevance, your organization can capture your data and learn from it to deliver a seamless customer service experience. The key here is “relevance.” When remote support agents try to find the data and information they need, they are bombarded with information that they don’t need. When AI and machine learning are applied to understand the query and context of the customer, remote support agents will only see the task-relevant knowledge they need.

It’s now possible to automatically make relevant suggestions that will enable your customers to successfully self-serve. In the event their query is escalated to the attention of one of your agents, your support team will have all the information of the customer’s journey to get them the answer they need. With the unified layer of relevance connecting your customers’ interactions and touchpoints, this becomes even more powerful.

MarketingDive – 9 trends that will define marketing in 2018

One-to-one marketing at scale edges closer – Better apps, devices and artificial intelligence-driven solutions like machine learning, combined with a more transparent digital media pipeline, signal that marketers are gaining access to more granular data that’s easier to apply across platforms. One-to-one marketing personalization at scale has been a holy grail target for the industry for awhile, but 2018 will be the year that savvier marketers start to tap into its potential.”

Data, data, data. It’s no surprise that it’s the secret sauce to personalization. Marketers have more data than ever before to provide completely personalized experiences, but it’s a question of the resources and time needed to create those. Thanks to machine learning, content personalization at scale is now possible, and without the army of data scientists to parse through this information to enable true personalization.

So, there you have it. It’s clear that the unified layer of relevance is the way of the future. Companies to embrace digital transformation this year will not only reign supreme in 2018, but are positioning themselves to scale for years to come.

To learn more about the power of relevance, and how you can achieve a unified layer of relevance, read our blog post,“How To Achieve Relevance In The Digital Age.”