Artificial intelligence was once an aberration found in the most sinister of sci-fi novels and cinema – how could you ever forget Hal? Today, AI is a part of our everyday lives and even invisible to most of us. There is big business in what many believe is predictive selling, targeting of buyers vs. shoppers, and the elevation of customer service. The ultimate in service is knowing what your customer needs before they do. Being at the forefront of this technology is the core principal of designed serendipity. Orchestrating experiences for your customer that predicts their wants and needs not only relieves stress and effort, but can give them a sense of good fortune. That winning feeling and rush consumers feel with a bargain or added perk is very sticky.

Sure this technology can almost seem spooky to some people, but the ubiquitous evolution of customer experience will nullify the fear and highlight the benefits. Already a generation of millennial consumers expect the ‘magic’ facet of designed serendipity to occur day to day. Why wouldn’t an e-tailer know exactly what I need when I need it? Predictive selling and service has become the absolute norm, what will be next to surprise and delight?

Planning for the future of consumer expectations requires innovative thought and above and beyond creativity.

Where will your shoppers be next? What will be driving their conversion? How will you capture their hearts and wallets? In the coming 2-5 years you will be challenged to read the crystal ball in an ever changing convergence of commerce, technology and entertainment. So what next? Invest and deploy the facets of designed serendipity where you can win. Applying the framework (a new twist, shared connection, magic, jackpot and give/get love) will help bring focus and heighten creativity. Shared connection through unique experiences and high perceived value is critical.

Get to know your audience not only as consumers of goods but as consumers of media.

An authentic ability to connect requires robust knowledge of the psyche of your most valuable consumers. What are their fundamental needs and how can you help them find solutions not only through product offerings but through original content that they value, share and anticipate. How can they get the maximum benefit from their purchase? Provide continuous learning and the latest advancements in your category. Educate them on trends and where to find them. Offer complementary lifestyle experiences in travel, beauty, fashion, cuisine, wine, decor. Even if your product is a finite tool or service, build confidence in their buying decision by sharing your brand story and why you make the difference in the causes you support, the labor you use, fair trade sourcing and new advancements in technology.

Investing in the development of a media pipeline and how to maintain one is key.

You cannot feed the content beast enough. Only a few years ago social media was taking hold. The employers I witnessed who jumped in, redirected their budgets and invested in the necessary talent to execute on this growing need are winning today. They took the risk and learned quickly. They are now the leaders in the social space. Today, the opportunity is for companies to employ content creators and strategist who can shape the conversation about the brand with your customers. Producers, writers, directors will be common place in organizations and may not report into marketing. They may be an entity unto themselves as this won’t be marketing, this will be growing connection and conversion. You must “give love to get love” and customers who are in love with your brand is good for business. There may be a “Chief Content and Conversion Officer” in the future.

In light of all the change, the focus on messaging value and deals won’t quietly go away. Loyalty programs and value propositions will be more robust and engaging through original content and advancements in technology. Your most valuable customers will be stickier if you know how to connect the dots between value, connection and service. While every brand has varying needs, the “jackpot, magic and connection” ecosystem must be built or you may be caught off-guard. Investing now in technology and talent should be on the agenda of every 2018 planning meeting and by 2019 you will either see the glowing results or be prepared to know exactly how to pivot. Exciting times require courageous actions.

For more from Loie Maxwell on how to create magic for your customers, check out the on-demand webinar, Designed Serendipity: Win Over Your Customers With a Little Luck.