The relationship brands have with their customers is set to undergo a technological revolution causing the number of human-to-human interactions to fall significantly, according to new research released by Oracle.

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The Oracle report Can Virtual Experiences Replace Reality? polled 800 senior marketing and sales professionals across EMEA and revealed how the use of emerging technologies is set to surge by 2020. Seventy-eight percent of brands expect to provide customer experiences through virtual reality in the next four years, while eighty percent expect to serve customers through chatbots.

However, despite this eagerness to embrace new technologies, many brands are still struggling to make use of the valuable customer and prospect data, with sixty percent not currently including social or CRM data in their customer analytics.

The changing customer dynamic

The dynamic between brands and customers is changing due to the rise of social, digital and mobile platforms which has led to a growing preference for self-service when it comes to brand interactions.

The research found that 40 percent of senior sales and marketing executives agree customers do more independent research before contacting them to make a sales enquiry, and 35 percent noted their customers preferred to make purchases or resolve a service issue without speaking directly with a member of the sales or customer service team.

VR and Chatbots set to surge

In response, brands are looking to implement innovative technologies that allow their customers to continue interacting with brands on their own terms. In terms of upcoming technology investments, the research found:

78 percent of brands expect to be using VR for CX by 2020; 34 percent have already implemented the technology to some degree
80 percent of brands will be using chatbots for customer interactions by 2020; 36 percent have already implemented them
48 percent of brands have implemented automation technologies in sales, marketing and customer service, with another 40 percent planning to do so by 2020.

Data continues to pose a challenge

Despite the race to innovate, the reality is that many brands are still struggling to unify, organise and process the growing volumes of customer data they have coming into their business, making it difficult to truly understand and deliver a personalised experience for customers.

60 percent of brands don’t currently include social or CRM data in their customer analytics
41 percent agree smarter analysis of customer data will have the biggest impact on the experience they deliver to their customers
42 percent already collect a great deal of data from multiple sources, but are unable to extract customer insights from it

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