The digital economy has empowered the consumer with the unprecedented ability to buy whatever they want when and how they want it. Understandably this evolution presents businesses with a new host of challenges (especially for IT) and opportunities (primarily for marketing).

When looking at the digital marketing trends that Signal recently published for 2017, these trends tell an interesting story about the importance of leveraging all available tools to constantly improve the user experience. This is true whether it involves the collection of utilization data to create and maintain stronger buyer personas or the organization’s ability to enhance each engagement opportunity using video collaboration capabilities.

Let’s look at the meaning behind these trends:

Customer loyalty becomes marketer’s top priority. (Trend #1)

This is nothing new. However, as buyers increasingly favor authentic, transparent, and principled brands, technology gives organizations the ability to deliver those attributes at a scale that serves their customers well.

Loyalty starts with understanding customer expectations and always finding ways to deliver the type of experiences the customer desires. A solid customer loyalty strategy has many facets designed to engage customers wherever they live, work and play. Video conferencing can be an effective tool to propagate loyalty, in part because it provides enhanced engagement that can help humanize otherwise cold interactions with valuable face-to-face contact.

Video conferencing can also play a key role in helping rebuild loyalty when signs show the relationship has diminished. For B2B companies, meeting face-to-face over video allows a sales rep to recognize when a customer is engaged in the conversation or has checked out. This kind of conversational disengagement is often the first sign that the customer is considering a competitor or simply not ready to do business at all, and it’s something that can be easily missed on an audio-only call. For B2C companies, offering video customer service when engagement data shows customers are at risk of leaving can mean the difference between a lost or loyal customer.

Customers demand life-enhancing experiences. (Trend #2)

There is a reason why 90 percent of Forbes Global 500 executives believe that improving the customer experience will be the key battleground in 2017. Simply put, customer expectations have never been higher. Today’s consumers demand exceptional customer service wherever they are, and whenever they want it. Oftentimes, with the right technology in place, the desired experience can be a seamless, touchless endeavor.

However, things happen, and even in a digital or mobile first society, there is a need for human interaction. These human connections can be key in enabling exceptional customer experiences, and video conferencing is often the solution that is simultaneously highly personal and scalable.

Customer identity will underpin all engagement regardless of the channel. (Trend #3)

Customers want their engagements to be easy and organized. They want you to already know their preferences and often appreciate when you can anticipate their needs. The only way to accomplish this effectively is to organize all engagements around a singular, yet complex identity that enables customized experiences regardless of how the customer chooses to interact with a brand.

Success here requires aligning with technology partners that prioritize integration, especially the ones that offer services to make it all work. The companies who get this step right often have a significant competitive advantage over firms still trying to make silos of big data relevant to individual customers.

It’s time to get a grip on your data, and understand how to turn it into a strategic asset. (Trends #4–7)

Having customer data is no longer a luxury. It’s data that drives how we create, manage and nurture consumer identities. As a result, it’s time to take charge of the data fueling your business operations – or risk losing control over where your organization is going in the future. This is true whether your data gathered through in-house transactions or procured through strategic partners.

Customer-obsessed CMOs need to break down departmental silos to succeed. (Trend #8)

Engagement isn’t just important between the brand and its customer. There’s a dire need to stronger communication between in-house teams as well.  Fortunately, leadership understands the need for improvement here. Specifically, over 50 percent of global CMOs say organizational issues are the biggest barrier to fully utilizing customer data.

Again, video conferencing can play a key role in helping organizations conquer the collaboration conundrum.  After all, video has the power to build bridges and give CMOs the data they need to own the customer experience. Properly utilized video makes it possible to dismantle silos, prioritize customer success, and integrate face-to-face collaboration into existing workflows to make consistent communication second nature.

Bottom line: Regardless of what technologies you are leveraging, it’s engagement that defines the user experience.  Success starts with understanding which technologies best align with customer obsessions, so you can create exceptional experiences and drive fierce loyalty from your buyers.