Two loyalty industry topics emerged at the recent Forrester CXSF Conference: Chatbots and The Internet of Things (IoT).

During his session, “IoT and Connected Products: The New Frontier for Customer Experience,” at the recent Forrester CXSF 2016 Conference, Frank Gillett, vice president, principal analyst, Forrester, talked about the IoT−how a network of products or systems interacts and communicates with each other through the Internet−and its potential powerful impact on the loyalty industry.

“Negative customer experiences have a bigger impact, unfortunately than positive experiences,” Gillett explained. “Since the dawn of business, perhaps, we’ve been using the customer to find out when there is something wrong with a product or the experience. The IoT has the huge potential to flip things around. We’re going to use sensors in the products to learn about the customer’s experience.”

These two topics are also among the key themes promoted by Genesys as points of emphasis for loyalty marketers in 2017.

“Customer experience is the most powerful business differentiator, so it’s increasingly important for companies to stay ahead of the curve,” the Genesys study states.

Genesys CMO Merijn te Booij told Loyalty360 that the following are the key themes companies should focus on in 2017:

2017 will be the year of chatbots and micro apps. Micro apps are key to unlocking the next wave of customer experience since there’s no growth in overall app downloads, but there is in messaging apps. Managers need the ability to seamlessly include new tech like chatbots and IoT.

Virtual reality could be the next frontier in CX. With co-browsing, call center resource planning, and data visualization applications, VR can simplify and clarify customer experience management. Given customer demands for new channels of communication including video, VR is the logical next frontier in CX.

The Internet of Things is the biggest CX disruptor on the horizon right now. When an IoT product is powered on, companies are immediately connected to the user. With over 20 billion connected devices expected worldwide by 2020, there will likely be a huge demand for new ways of communicating through secure channels that are not readily supported. This next year, we’ll see companies lay the groundwork for IoT by designing and delivering omnichannel customer experience.

More companies will explore hyper-personalization to engage customers across even more channels. Hyper-personalization is the art and science of using data to deliver more tailored and more targeted content, products, and services. This will be extremely important in industries such as financial services and department stores, where physical locations are closing.

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