Latin American executives enthusiastic adopters of customer experience technology

06 September 2018 5 min. read

Business operators in Latin America are among the most enthusiastic as to the adoption of customer experience tools according to a global survey of executives by strategy and management firm Bain & Company.

Taking in the views of executives at 700 companies worldwide on the subject of customer experience tools such as biometrics, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, a recent Bain & Company survey report has revealed that Latin American business leaders are among the most bullish globally in terms of technological adoption and future expectations – eclipsed only by their counterparts in the likewise emerging economies of Asia.

The comprehensive international analysis assessed the adoption rates of 20 specific tools designed to enhance the customer experience, broken down into the broad categories of sensing, deciding, acting and managing. Overall, predictive analytics, sensors in products or operations, and personalized experience tools came out as those currently most favored across region and industry and for both the consumer and business-to-business markets.

Current and projected adoption rates for various customer experience tools

Broken down by region, 20 percent of executive respondents in Latin America stated that over the past five years their companies had used at least one customer experience tool, with four tools being used on average in the region – adoption rates which outmatched the 19 percent of executives in Europe and just 12 percent in North America. Latin America trailed only the Asia Pacific, which recorded a rate of 28 percent to be well ahead of the rest of the globe. 

The report suggests issues surrounding legacy IT systems as one of the possible reasons for the wider adoption rates in emerging markets over their more mature competitors, enabling the early adopters of Latin America “to experiment with innovative tools and adopt the latest promising technology from scratch, vs. having to integrate new tools into a rigid technology architecture.” In addition, the firm says, data privacy is often a less volatile issue in many emerging markets.

Customer experience tool adoption rates per region

As a contrast, the authors of the Bain report state that many Western companies and those in other established markets are encumbered by the challenge of simplifying their IT architecture and their operating models. “Large, complex organisations tend to be saddled with functions and departments that operate in silos. Developing a better customer experience increasingly requires modular, more flexible architecture that can support seamless handoffs from one channel to another, as well as integrate different data sources to assemble a single view of the customer.”

Yet, despite the general contention that businesses in advanced economies are primarily bogged down by their bulk, the survey also revealed Latin American executives to be among the most forward-looking with respect to future technological customer trends, again behind Asia, but closing the gap on the region and widening the one with Europe and North America – indicating, perhaps, that opportunity to adopt customer experience tools has been more of a hindrance to date for companies in Latin America rather than willingness or foresight. 

Future customer tool trends expected by executives per region

When quizzed on their expectations of a series of twenty-five future customer experience trends coming to pass – including cross-industry predictions such as ‘Customer sentiment will be transformed with the use of biological sensors (e.g., retina, body temperature, heartbeat) to detect customer emotions’, and ‘Virtual reality will turn the living room into a personalized showroom with products and salespeople,’ Latin American leaders agreed with the sentiments at an average of 60 percent – compared to 64 percent of those in Asia and just 46 percent in North America.

Altogether, the trends which executives worldwide were most confident of taking place before 2025 involved sensors in retailing and biometric payment systems. With respect to customer sentiment being relayed through biological sensors and nanotechnology being embedded in bodies – technologies which blend digital and human elements and were most hotly anticipated by the tool adoption leaders of Asia – in both cases Latin American execs were believers at an average of 52 percent compared to only 34 percent of their northern counterparts.

This long-view, and the higher than average current customer tech adoption rates in Latin America, places locally-guided firms on closer terms with global leaders (as measured by having 10 percent or higher revenue growth over the past five years and a high level of satisfaction with financial results), with such companies tending toward higher tool usage and the greater expectation of future customer experience trends – at an average agreement rate of 63 percent.