The AI revolution is not on the horizon; it’s here, and customer experience professionals can already see the effects. From frontline interactions, like improved AI chatbots, to more complex applications, like predictive analytics and personalization, AI can be a powerful tool for enhancing CX and making your brand stand out.
That’s why it’s essential to have CX leaders who understand AI’s potential and are excited to learn more. Today’s CX hires should understand the fundamentals of AI and machine learning while being interested in innovative ways to apply AI to the customer experience. When it comes to AI, a future-looking perspective is essential.
AI-Driven Customer Insights, Analytics, and Interactions
As AI advances and becomes more accessible, its impact on CX grows. The clearest example is in the world of customer service, where AI is super-charging chatbots to transform customer service. In one survey, 15 percent of CX professionals strongly agreed that AI is becoming more effective at solving customer issues, while 13 percent disagreed.
At its best, AI can automate and streamline customer service’s ‘boring’ and straightforward elements, freeing agents to focus on providing more tailored, high-level service – with AI tools assisting them along the way. CX leaders need a firm grasp of what’s currently possible and what’s on the horizon to harness AI to improve CX and the Employee’s Experience (EX) in this vein.
Of course, customer service isn’t the only place where AI can boost CX. Today’s CX leaders must take a holistic approach to customer insights and analytics, leveraging the insights provided by technology solutions to better understand their customer base’s pain points and needs. Powerful AI tools can be applied to uncover more patterns in the data you collect while improving your predictive analytics. These insights, in turn, can be translated into strategies to identify the most likely buyers, target high-impact leads, upgrade lead scoring, segment audiences, and tailor marketing to improve the likelihood of conversion and ensure your marketing dollars are going to the most effective places.
Today, CX leaders should be clear about how to leverage AI to provide more personalized customer experiences. Customized experiences are expected by 71% of customers, and 76% get frustrated when they don’t get that personalization. Meanwhile, 76% say they are more likely to purchase from a brand that personalizes communications, while 78% say they are more likely to re-purchase and recommend. AI can assist with improving personalization, from streamlining the personalizing communications process (i.e., filling in fields in an email template) to improving predictions on how to personalize (i.e., what the personalized elements should look like for each recipient). Combining AI-driven insights with human creativity gives you a recipe for powerful CX and communications.
Looking into the Future
The future of AI and CX requires constant attention and reconsideration. Your CX leaders should always know what’s coming next, pursue training opportunities, and stay on top of the latest news and developments. A CX leader doesn’t have to be a tech whiz, but they should at least have a foundational understanding of technology and pursue expert insights on how it can be applied to improve the customer journey.
The Harvard Business Review suggests a five-part approach common to many successful companies that incorporate machine learning and other data-driven techniques for CX, as follows:
- Connect data signals and insights from a constantly expanding range of sources.
- Reimagine the end-to-end experience as a seamless flow powered by automated decisions.
- Activate the experience across channels, connecting touchpoints to engage customers wherever possible.
- Fulfill according to the customer’s context, always recognizing who and where someone is.
- Test relentlessly, inject innovations, rigorously measure their impact, and understand how things affect people differently.
In other words, customer needs and wants should drive the adoption of new technology, not vice versa. CX leaders must evaluate their customers’ (and employees’) unique needs and make decisions based on those results.
Adopting AI also requires intense ethical considerations. Generative AI remains a hot-button ethical issue, and it can be even trickier to navigate the balance between technological possibilities and the need for caution when sensitive customer data is involved. Ensure your CX team is mindful of privacy and ethical concerns with robust training on handling and using customer data and ensure customers are aware of when, how, and where their data may be used. Transparency and informed consent will go a long way toward keeping customers happy and secure.
AI technology is changing rapidly, which means that the most important attribute is not a specific “hard” skill but a sense of resilience, flexibility, and curiosity about what’s next. As technology advances, so will customers’ expectations of the brands they interact with. Preparing your CX team for the future means focusing on a spirit of perpetual learning and innovation, all while keeping human emotions and relationships at the core of everything we do. After all, machines may help us predict behavior and track metrics, but how brands make customers feel genuinely determines their success.
By Dawn Russell
About the Author
As Managing Director and CX Executive Search Practice Leader for Blue Rock, Dawn brings her Social Talent Black Belt skills and deep analytic abilities to bear, developing quality talent pipelines for a variety of diverse industries focused on Customer Experience. Dawn is the only Managing Director at Blue Rock Search that is equally knowledgeable in three of our five specialties, including Customer Experience, Franchise, and Human Resources.