Brands should focus on digital improvement more than innovation in 2018, say consumers

While voice assistants and mobile payments are on the rise, interesting in VR and AR seems to be tailing off for brands.

A new survey has revealed that many consumers want brands and businesses to improve their current digital products and services rather than rushing to introduce new ‘on-trend’ digital offerings in 2018.

The survey, carried out by digital agency Code Computerlove as part of its annual trends forecast, found that 38% of consumers polled said they were looking for improvements over new innovations and better integration between the various devices next year.

Only 17.7% said they were looking for ‘something they haven’t experienced before’ from their digital experiences in 2018. The survey also explored consumer appetite for some of 2018’s most talked about digital technologies and those predicted to be the biggest areas of growth in the coming year.

Five topics currently trending in terms of digital trends in 2018 were examined: voice assistants, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), chatbots and mobile payments.

While 35% of consumers polled said that they had encountered voice driven interactions via the likes of Amazon Alexa/Google Home so far, with 62% rating their experience as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, less than a quarter indicated that they’re interested in using voice assistants to interact with brands and businesses next year.

The second most used technology in the poll, mobile payment, is something that 23% of those polled were interested in using more of in 2018. 26% of consumers reported that they’d used mobile payments in 2017 and a massive three quarters said their experience was good or very good.

Conversely, only 60% of UK consumers who have experienced chatbots rated their experience positively and chatbots have only reached around 22% of consumers so far.

While people’s experience of VR so far was overwhelmingly good or very good (78%), only 15% are urging brands to use this more in the coming year. 14% have encountered it so far. It was a similar story with augmented reality, with almost identical results.

Commenting on the findings, Louis Georgiou from Code Computerlove said: “None of the five trending consumer technologies we looked at have reached true mass adoption yet, but voice assistants and mobile payments are the closest to becoming mainstream, while VR and AR still have the longest way to go.

“Although voice assistants were the most widely used trending tech in 2017, satisfaction levels weren’t brilliant. 33% of those questioned were indifferent and five% rated it ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’.”

Georgiou continued: “The findings around chatbots were particularly interesting. Only a fifth of those questioned had encountered a chatbot. This echoes similar reports that we’ve read during the year, despite this being an area that we know brands are investing in and adopting. This disconnect perhaps suggests that either customers don’t know they’re speaking to chatbots or the ones already in the market are not being met. Only nine% are interested in more chatbot technology in the coming year.”

Code Computerlove also gathered data from Google looking at the number of searches for these topics compared. This showed that voice assistants was by far the most searched for term followed by VR.

Georgiou said: “Brands and businesses looking to develop voice Skills and search have the most receptive audience it seems, and conversational user iterface is undoubtedly an exciting space, but the technology and application needs to be right for the service and brand – and not something that is undertaken at the expense of getting existing digital services and experiences right.

“Our advice is to approach this work as additional experimentation, learn fast and learn from real users to find if it’s the right solution for your customers – and, if the answer is ‘no’, recognise this before large scale investment.

“So maybe the real trend in 2018 will be a shift to continuous delivery coupled with discovery projects. Taking an iterative approach means only building things that work – and that real users respond positively to – as every iteration can be measured and the user data then determines the development path.”

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