Is there no limit to the wearable revolution?

In case the excitement over the Apple Watch has left any lingering doubt, a recent GlobalWebIndex study has confirmed that the era of wearable technology is here to stay.

The study discovered that no less than 71 per cent of 16-to-24-year-olds crave “wearable tech,” which the report defines as a smart watch, smart wristband, or Google Glass. That’s a lot of young people - which, in business terms, means potential lifelong customers - hankering for gadgets to attach to themselves.

Not too long ago, kids had to make the effort to reach into their pockets if they wanted to use a computer. But those smartphone days were simpler times.

By 2018, it’s estimated that the wearable device market will be worth some $12.6 billion (£8 billion), according to stats by Statista.

For those of us who work in the field of Customer Experience Management, it’s time to buckle our seatbelts. Wearables may soon become a key part of customer journeys and revolutionize the CX arena.

Just how will they disrupt our world? Let's have a closer look.

Precision User-Data Collection

Because wearable devices are physically attached to consumers, they enable customer service reps to collect new levels of granular data, going far beyond simple things like web-browser history or previous purchases.

Wearables could capture details of in-store experiences by using geotracking to monitor shopping patterns throughout a store, for example, and perhaps even detecting how long customers looked at particular products.

On the contact center side, one likely use of a wearable device might be to detect when an agent is experiencing an unusually high degree of stress, and then immediately advise a supervisor to intervene. Naturally, this supervisor will have received the notification on his or her own wearable device, be it a smart watch or connected contact lenses.

An Augmented Reality (AR) of Customer Journeys

One of the key benefits of wearable technologies, especially things like Google Glass, is that they can function as an immersive extension of the web or mobile brand experience.

By potentially adding augmented reality (AR) to the web and mobile channels - providing, for instance, 3D, life-size, “touchable” examples of clothing in one’s field of vision - wearables offer a great way to help customers truly experience what a product has to offer, how it works, or how it can be fixed or assembled (hello, IKEA), while delivering a unique fun factor to the customer journey.

The potential uses of AR for both improved customer experiences and customer service are numerous indeed.

Better Service for Service Reps

The Human Cloud At Work (HCAW), a study from RackSpace, shows that employees with wearable devices increased their productivity by 8.5 per cent and their job satisfaction by 3.5 per cent. There is much to suggest that these numbers would apply to customer service workforces in the same way.

Among other things, wearables will undoubtedly enable call-center staffers to be more continuously “heads up and hands free,” so they’re better equipped to provide customer service and not as rigidly glued to a script .

The same applies to retail sales associates. It’s counterintuitive, but all of this extra tech might just help to humanize things.

Already, Amazon’s Mayday service allows customers to see the customer service agent they’re speaking to, right on the display of their Kindle Fire HDX.

Using Cognitive Systems for Great Customer Service

Miniaturization and convenience are considered to be the hallmarks of wearables. But in his article “Why Wearable Computing Is Waiting for A.I.,” Mike Elgan of Computerworld writes, “These qualities are irrelevant in the face of the real revolution. Wearable computers will find out what you want to know, then make you know it.”

Indeed, wearable devices offer not only convenience but also all of the information-processing power that comes with computers’ increasingly advanced artificial intelligence (AI).

Wearables are therefore bound to become the natural access interface between computerized cognitive systems and human service representatives, offering front-line employees instant access to a vast big-data reservoir of knowledge that enables them to serve customers efficiently and with genuine smiles.

In short, customer service contact centers should prepare to be disrupted, mostly for the better, by the incoming avalanche of wearable tech.

The ability to quickly support any new digital channel and customer touchpoint that emerges on the market will be key components of any future wearable-ready contact center, and if the desires of today’s youth are any guide, your company had best be prepared.

Merijn te Booij is executive vice president of product and solution strategy at Genesys.