By Raju Malhotra

Customers are demanding experiences that meet their needs, wherever and whenever. The rise of digital has presented brands with an overwhelming amount of options to deliver these experiences. Digital has also blurred the lines between every step of the customer journey from marketing to customer service to R&D. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article stating how  every company is now a tech company ,” highlighting the power technology has over the entire organization, and the CMO is no exception. In fact, according to Gartner’s 2018 Marketing Technology Survey , 74% of marketers have Martech management responsibilities.

2019 will only accelerate this trend further as CEOs, CMOs, and CTOs, work to link all the pieces of their organization through technology to make a seamless experience for their customer.

Here are four predictions of how technology will change the customer experience in 2019.

American GDPR is here and it’s spreading state by state

It’s been roughly 6 months since GDPR was officially put into action in the EU and while it’s far too early to tell how successful it will be, it’s clear businesses have learned to adapt, and quickly. 2018 was a big year for policymakers, and the general public, in understanding the power and scope of technology companies. GDPR, Cambridge Analytica, and data breaches have shed light on the global concern consumers share around who owns their data, how they’re using it, and why.

As such, governments and brands beyond the EU are adapting to suit. California passed the Consumer Privacy Act in June of this year and it’s only the beginning. Research from Janrain found that 69% of American consumers would like to see privacy laws like GDPR enacted in the U.S. In 2019, local and state governments will enact their own versions of GDPR and avoid the need to wait for federal regulation.

AI will augment humans, not replace them

When Facebook first announced chatbot integration with Messenger in 2016, many considered it the end all be all of customer care, resulting in many businesses finding them overhyped. Unfortunately, brands put too much onus on chatbots handle everything, an all or nothing approach. Artificial is not meant to replace the customer service agent, but empower them!

94% of tweets at brands go unanswered , and each year customers expect more direct interaction with brands and they demand quick responses. In 2019, we will see brands truly embrace the chatbot/agent relationship to automate the boring stuff, free up time for agents to focus on customers, and master their SLAs.

Social Care and Marketing will finally converge

There is no customer as willing to teach you how to sell to them as the one who is asking you for something. The term “social customer service” is not often at the forefront of marketing discussions but customers don’t see a difference when receiving marketing or care from your company.

Brands will break down the walls between marketing and care in 2019. They’ll use insights from customer care engagements to personalize how they market to them. The customer service team has data on what products a customer owns, what they like, what they don’t like, and how likely they are to keep buying from your brand. Gartner found that by 2020 more than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience. The key to the perfect seamless customer experience lies with brands learning from the data they already have.

MarTech consolidation will continue

2019 will be the year brands and agencies retire ad-hoc fixes for different areas of marketing and care in favor of platforms with a single view of the customer. Forrester found that “58% of B2C marketers want to reduce the number of vendors they use, and less than one-fifth believe they can get everything they need from a single vendor.” Consolidation will allow brands to have all their tools in one place, be more efficient, and pay less for it.

It’s clear from the Brandwatch and Crimson Hexagon Merger in social listening, and Spredfast and Lithium merger in marketing and care, the market is responding to this need.

The last few years have been a whirlwind of new technology for both marketers and consumers, totally revolutionizing how we interact every day. 2019 will be a year of convergence as marketers become more comfortable with how to use technology, their responsibilities in using it, and the need to bring it all together in one single view of the customer.