People who have never known a world without the internet are accustomed to everything happening quickly. It is a huge challenge for companies to provide a pleasant experience for such customers, stated technology entrepreneur Davy Kestens. 'The customer of tomorrow has no patience, yet still wants to be treated in a personal manner.'

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'Human-to-human communication will be the standard within five years. So, the personalisation of a product or service will become the most critical factor.' - Davy Kestens, CEO Sparkcentral

A few years ago, the Limburg technology entrepreneur Davy Kestens moved to Silicon Valley where he made several million dollars with his company Sparkcentral. His digital customer communication system, Sparkcentral, is now used by corporations, such as Uber and Netflix. In fact, Sparkcentral is the market leader with respect to social customer service in the airline industry.

'Say you booked a flight and you want to change something about it,' said Davy Kestens. 'Instead of e-mailing or going to the counter and having to wait too long for an answer, you send a social media message and receive a response immediately or within a few minutes. It's just like you're sending a message to friends or family via WhatsApp. That's how you make an airline's customer relationships much closer.'

proactive communication

New technology will soon allow companies to proactively solve customer problems. 'For example, the GPS coordinates of smartphones can be used to locate passengers a half hour before the gate closes. Someone likely to miss their flight because they are stuck in traffic receives a message suggesting they book a seat on the next flight. Problems are resolved before they happen.'

everything must happen quickly

The new form of communication makes the traditional call centre obsolete, stated Davy Kestens. 'Every year, customers are asking companies more questions via mobile messaging, such as Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. They no longer need to call, can avoid the call centre, and can communicate directly with someone. Previously, the company determined how their customer service worked. Today, it's the customer who decides how they want to communicate.'

And often this is done with minimal effort, yet with excellent service as the end result. 'Companies that do not realise this will have some difficult times ahead of them in the coming years,' predicted the CEO.

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'Effortless customer experience with customers will become the most important differentiator in companies' competitiveness. Today, customer contact is still based on too many internal processes and is not based on the customer's needs. The new generation of customers will no longer accept this.'

technology humanises

Not all companies are on the right track, stated Davy Kestens.

'Within five years, more than half of customer communication will be via mobile messaging,' said Davy Kestens. 'That technology will also make the contact with the customer more human. Repetitive processes, such as the identification of customer numbers, address changes, or invoice details, can be done completely automated so that customer service agents can spend more time on human interaction, empathy, creative responses, and so on. The customer service of tomorrow will merge the technology side and the human side in an optimal way. H2H communication (human to human) will be the standard within five years. So, the personalisation of a product or service will become the most critical factor. I'm convinced of this.'