The Full Story
Technology has always been at the forefront of business innovation, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no exception — it’s reshaping how businesses interact with their customers, and how employees do their jobs.
The adoption of AI has skyrocketed over the past few years. Businesses are constantly finding new ways to leverage it to drive value for customers, improve operational efficiency, limit repetitive work for employees, and reduce costs.
As AI technologies continue to advance, they’re becoming an integral part of the customer experience (CX) strategy for many companies. Generative AI — which uses deep-learning models and natural language processing capabilities to generate high-quality content — is of particular interest in the CX sphere, as it allows for lightning-fast personalization, data synthesis, and more.
So, how can AI improve customer experience, and what’s on the horizon for the next few years? Let’s dive into the possibilities.
Augmenting self-service support
When customers are able to access self-service support options, they can often solve problems or get their questions answered without the need to speak to a representative — which benefits both the customer and the company.
AI chatbots can be trained using various documentation (e.g. company policies, FAQs, knowledge bases) so they can provide quick answers to customers 24/7. This limits the amount of repetitive questions CX agents must field, freeing up their time and resources to handle more complex requests.
Depending on the sophistication of the chatbot, however, customers may find themselves going in circles and becoming frustrated. Therefore, chatbots should always present the option to connect with a real human.
Helping CX agents level up their customer service
AI can support human agents with a human-in-the-loop (HITL) approach, where a human decision maker is always present in the loop of AI learning.
For example, using sentiment analysis, AI can interpret messages from customers and help agents reply more intentionally when buyers behave in a specific way. This minimizes escalation and helps agents approach customer inquiries in the best possible way. It also saves time by assisting agents in formulating a response — and what customer doesn’t love a shorter response time?
AI-driven personalization is becoming more and more important in the CX landscape. As companies collect more customer data, customers expect them to use that data to personalize their experiences. This personalization can include:
- Addressing each customer inquiry with a personalized response (rather than an impersonal canned response)
- Offering personalized assistance based on previous behaviors, inquiries, and / or purchase history
- Providing assistance in a customer’s preferred language
- Making recommendations for related products or services based on purchase history
Some AI chatbots can accomplish these tasks, while others can assist human CX agents with them.
Enabling more efficient call routing
AI can drive efficiency in CX call routing by leveraging tools like natural language processing and speech recognition to analyze customer intent, preferences, and emotions.
Based on this analysis, the AI can determine which calls are most urgent, match customers with the best available resources, and provide any necessary context to the selected agent. For example, based on particular keywords identified by speech recognition, a customer can be routed to the department most associated with those keywords.
Getting customers transferred to the right person with the right skill set to assist them the first time prevents the frustrating experience of being passed from one agent to another.
Data management and insights
AI isn’t just helpful for managing CX while it’s in progress — it can also make the most of data gathered after calls end and tickets are resolved, providing actionable insights for stakeholders across the organization.
AI-powered insights offer companies greater visibility into opportunities for improvement, KPI trends, customer sentiments, and ways to improve AI CX performance in interactions with both customers and employees.
How will AI impact the future of work?
There’s no getting around it: AI and the future of work are intertwined. While we may not know exactly how things will play out, here are a few things we’re confident about:
- Companies will continue using AI-powered tools to automate repetitive tasks. Many companies are already reaping the benefits of AI’s accurate, efficient work on detail-oriented, repetitive tasks, and we expect this trend to continue. With generative AI, around 30% of hours worked today could be automated by 2030, which would free up a significant amount of time and resources for other critical tasks.
- Organizations will continue to explore the ethics of AI. Ethical questions come with every new and powerful technology. In the case of AI, many people have concerns about privacy, copyright issues (i.e. AI pulling from existing content), potential bias in algorithms, transparency challenges, and more. Companies will need to have productive discussions about AI, how teams should be trained to use it, and where to draw boundaries between humans and AI.
- Closed AI systems will be the norm for many companies. In a closed AI system, intelligence is built only from content that is intentionally fed to the database (e.g. company policies, company-approved answers to questions, inventory details). In addition to being more secure, this approach allows companies to be in total control of their AI.
- AI won’t replace humans entirely, especially not in CX. Some people are understandably concerned about AI “taking over” human jobs, but the reality is that AI — at least at its current level — lacks the empathy, creativity, and complex critical thinking skills that humans use to solve problems, elevate moments in the customer’s experience, and provide great service. For many workers, AI will simply change specific tasks and processes rather than replace their jobs fully.
- AI and people do better when they’re working together. Collaboration between AI and humans is the best of both worlds. It combines the human capacity for complex problem-solving, empathy, and creativity with the technological advantages of being able to pull information, parse data, and complete repetitive tasks far faster than humans can.
Better together: AI-enabled CX teams are the future
AI-enabled teams bring a much-needed balance to CX. Companies get the benefit of gaining insights from large amounts of data quickly, and customers still get the human touch they’re looking for when interacting with a brand.
The best thing about AI is that you can integrate it into your organization’s CX in a way that makes sense for your team and allows you to reach your goals — without compromising your data privacy, brand values, or the quality of your customer service.
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