DOES AI HOLD THE KEYS TO A BRIGHTER CX FUTURE?
It may not seem natural to say that something artificial can enhance something real. In the journey to achieve an outstanding customer experience, though, that’s exactly what artificial intelligence can do for a company.
After years of using AI the wrong way, companies are beginning to realize that using today’s high-powered artificial intelligence appropriately and to its fullest capacity allows them to transform their customer experience into something remarkable.
Customers are becoming more familiar with and receptive of AI. And it’s a good thing, too, as an estimated 85 percent of customer interactions by 2020 will be managed without a human at all, according to a Gartner report.
Managing intelligently the changing context of a customer’s journey will be a huge benefit to the customer experience. By proactively staying current on a journey, highly tuned AI can react to needs before some customers realize they have them.
Here are four ways that correctly deployed AI can significantly improve your customer experience.
1. By Improving Personalization
Today’s typical customers want to feel valued and appreciated. They want to be heard and have their time respected, and they each want to be treated as an individual rather than a segment.
One of the most effective ways companies can do this is to personalize engagement. Personalization methods fall on a spectrum from simple, yet meaningful, to advanced.
This can be as simplistic as better products and content recommendations based on previous purchases or viewing behavior. In more advanced ways, this can include personalized marketing messages tailored to each user.
UK-based company Thread does this well by personalizing clothing recommendations to each customer. Thread customers are asked to take a quiz that provides information about their personal styles; the company then feeds those customers weekly personalized recommendations. This makes marketing emails seem less like spam and the weekly personalized messages are more likely to produce better returns for the company.
Thread’s AI algorithm uses data to find patterns in what each customer likes and tailor its recommendations.
At the most advanced end, AI can allow companies to drill into the top of their customer food chain to deliver a truly remarkable customer experience. For a select group of customers, a company can manage a much more top-end personalization of the entire customer journey – from marketing messages to on-site and in-person shopping to checkout, thank you notes, and rewards.
2. By Enhancing Self-Service
Customer self-service is the inexorable evolution of customer service – particularly with the digital savvy. Service providers within the communications and media space have realized that most customer problems fall into similar or predictable categories.
Customer self-service has become a favored channel for many companies’ customer omnichannel experience. What the continued advancement of AI has done, though, is take self-service from simple troubleshooting steps to a more robust experience.
Today, customers can get a human-like experience powered by AI through virtual assistants and chatbots.
The goal of conversational interfaces should be to lighten the customers’ cognitive load and drive efficient engagement. Customers want convenience, not necessarily conversations.
Customers can type questions into a chat feature on a company’s website or mobile app, and a virtual helper will answer and walk them through steps to fix problems they might have. The better tuned the AI, the faster and more convenient the issue can be resolved.
While more complicated or highly emotional problems may require assistance of a human customer service representative or an on-site technician, AI is able to solve a lot of the “low-hanging fruit” support issues. This frees up customer service reps and solves a lot of problems quickly and painlessly.
3. By Hearing What the Customer is Saying … and Responding
Employing Customer Feedback Management (CFM) tools, companies rely heavily on customer surveys and online reviews to gauge how well they perform. They do this using technology to help people compile and analyze data so the company can improve customer experience in the future.
With AI, this entire process – and the fix – can be streamlined. One example is the Dorchester Collection, a luxury hotel brand. The company used AI to evaluate 7,500 guest reviews from 28 hotels and 10 brands to create one summary of findings. This enabled the company to provide almost immediate responses to their customer feedback in the form of improvements. This quickly showed customers that what they say is being heard, allowing property managers real-time opportunities to remedy situations before poor reviews are written.
4. By Consolidating Customers’ Lives
Voice-activated assistants such as Google Home and Alexa are popping up in more homes worldwide. At first, they were cute devices that would answer people’s questions or play their favorite songs.
Today, though, these devices help power people’s homes by turning lights on and off, lowering or raising the temperature, and locking doors. These activities are largely routine and can be learned from and improved with AI.
Other industries are getting in the game as well, linking with these popular devices to automate parts of people’s lives.
There are some banks, for example, that allow customers to schedule bill pays or transfers through Alexa or Google Home. Some movie theaters allow customers to buy tickets, select seats, and order popcorn and soda from their homes – without the need to use their smartphones.
In these ways, AI can create more human customer experiences. It may seem funny that something artificial can do that, but by understanding what AI can do and harnessing it appropriately, your company will be well on its way to creating a more robust, satisfying customer experience.