AI and the Customer Experience: Past, Present and Future
Dennis Weikle, PPT Solutions
In recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has reshaped how consumers are interacting with companies and brands. It has become evident that the advantages of this technology will be influential, if not vital, in helping businesses build Customer Experience models that will boost productivity, mitigate customer friction and reduce customer effort. As organizations strategize on their digital and AI customer engagement journey design, they will need to consider what matters most to customers when they are engaging with a company. AI is the future of Customer Experience and instituting the right tools now will be critical for future success.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Navigating amongst the myths and assumptions surrounding AI can be unwieldy so let’s address these upfront. AI is not a rogue army of robots attempting to overthrow the human race nor is it technology built to replace the human workforce. AI is limited and defined by the algorithms that dictate its behavior and is complementary to human interactions – not replacing human interactions altogether. The term Artificial Intelligence came about in 1956, but its recent emergence as a customer support solution has revolutionized both the Customer Experience and Agent Experience. In broad terms, Artificial Intelligence (AI) allows computers to simulate human behavior and decision-making. Combining this capability with the massive volume of information captured by Big Data allows the context of a customer's request and needs to be better analyzed and acted upon. The complex algorithms utilized by AI are continually learning in real-time.1 The more information the system is able to process and "learn," the more accurate the predictive analysis will become over time. Through self-service options like SMS, Chat, and Social Media, AI has been the catalyst in advancing the ever-evolving Digital Customer Experience (DCX) landscape and revolutionizing those support channels. Interactions powered by AI are quickly becoming the norm. The ability to talk to devices in your home or order goods and services using only your voice are moving from the realm of science fiction to reality in our daily lives. As AI-powered tools become a more prevalent means of interacting with brands and products, organizations must begin planning to implement this increasingly critical functionality to help maintain their competitive advantage.
The Current and Future State of AI and CX
Many organizations today are leveraging AI to seamlessly give customers the right information they need at the right time by offering self-service options which eliminate the need for a call to the contact center. AI also has the potential to give agents more information to help them handle complex issues that self-service cannot resolve. In the past, delivering good experiences through contact centers meant hiring, training and retaining the right agents with the right tools. Today, while all of that remains true as it relates to the contact center workforce, experiences are also measured based on the customer’s digital journey. Customer Experience leaders recognize that the future of their CX infrastructure will need to consist of a combination of human interaction and digital engagement. It is predicted that in 2018, half a billion users will save two hours a day as a result of AI-powered tools.3 With wider use of home products like Amazon’s Echo (Alexa) and Google Home along with AI-driven applications like Netflix (yes, Netflix uses AI to provide recommendations based on historical viewing), more customers are at ease with the concept of engaging with companies that use AI to assist with less complex inquiries. As AI matures, customers are only going to demand more personalized and instantaneous experiences with minimized effort.
AI Integration Outcomes
Customer Effort Decrease
Decrease in Cost per Call
Reduction in Hold Times
According to Chatbots Magazine, businesses can reduce customer service costs by up to 30% through the implementation of conversational solutions like virtual agents and chatbots.5 As brands integrate AI technology within their service model, they are looking to solutions that will help them realize these savings without negatively impacting the customer engagement journey. Integrating the right AI framework early on will be vital to meet the needs of their customers not only today but also in the future as engagement preferences evolve. A combination of machine learning and conversational AI will continuously improve self-service options and help companies realize higher cost savings over time. The AI of yesterday is not nearly as intelligent as the AI of today and will continue to improve with time exponentially. This phenomenon is opening the door to new possibilities and methods to service customers that were unfathomable just a decade ago. If they are not doing so already, business leaders should begin to treat Artificial Intelligence as a fundamental element of their Customer Experience strategy. Falling behind will only result in degradation of Customer Experience quality, increased customer churn and missed revenue. The future is now!
Contact PPT Solutions today to learn more about how we can help you design and implement the right strategic options for leveraging AI.
“Artificial Intelligence arms companies with data and optimized service options like never before. With AI, companies are delivering amazing proactive and personalized experiences, increasing Customer Satisfaction and driving down Customer Effort.”
Recognized by Inc.com as one of the nation’s fastest growing companies and a certified Great Place to Work®, PPT Solutions empowers clients with business solutions that deliver exceptional performance, outstanding customer experiences and measurable results.
6. AI Integration Outcomes: https://www.smartaction.ai/case-studies