How to Be Customer-Centric with AI

Valuing the customer as the source of revenue and competitive survival should be a given. But it hasn’t always been that way. Poor customer experience has become the reliable fuel of stand-up comedy, but on a serious note, it stands to ruin a full 30 percent of digital business projects, according to Gartner.

Nobody wants to feel the impact of that prediction. So what does a business have to do to become customer-centric? Simply, you must win at every interaction the customer has with your organization, says Olive Huang, Research Director at Gartner, quoted in a Smarter with Gartner article authored by Laurence Goasduff.

Gartner Next-gen CX AI

Technology, in the course of delivering innovations, has empowered customers, users, and employees as never before. And they are flexing these muscles; they’re not only noisy about their experiences, they’re also volatile enough to jump ship if their concerns are not addressed.

“Your business results depend on your brand’s ability to retain and add customers,” says Huang.

That seems simple and logical enough, but carrying out the mandates is anything but simple. Interactions that must be “won” range from a marketing campaign, to contact center interactions to invoices and deliveries; in other words every interaction of a company with those who work for it or who buy its products. This is an expansive mandate and a life-or-death business challenge. Low customer satisfaction can seriously damage an organization.

There are really two sides to the concept of improving the customer experience: one is the will, and the other is the means. Fortunately, technology is rapidly delivering the means, and tools are becoming readily available as digital transformation hands them over. The good news is that AI and ML are delivering the means businesses need to improve the customer experience, elevating customer service across the board from request through resolution. Businesses now need only supply the will and commitment.

Digitally Transforming the Customer Experience via AI and ML

Because customer service has traditionally been seen as a cost center, it didn’t received the attention it deserved as an attractive technology investment—let alone a vital one. But those days are over.

“Among the many technology trends shaping 2019 and beyond, the adoption of AI when it comes to CX is one of the most exciting,” says Jessica Ekholm, VP Analyst, Gartner. 

“The use of AI technologies such as machine learning, natural-language understanding and natural-language processing can help analyze customer sentiment and customer feedback at scale, precision and speed not achievable through humans.” Increasingly, today’s customers expect self-service, automation of complex tasks, and shortened response times. 

As customer service becomes imperative, businesses are committing themselves to deliver exceptional customer experience as never before.

Let’s examine the means at their disposal for accomplishing this.

Among Gartner’s 10 technologies that leaders should begin to incorporate into their roadmaps and strategies, Machine Learning (ML) led the list. ML is a type of artificial intelligence, of course; it derives knowledge and patterns from observation. ML is rapidly enabling improved efficiency for both customers and employees—whose needs incidentally often intersect at the service desk. So the service desk has become a favorite entry project for CIOs looking to implement AI to automate manual tasks and streamline ponderous processes.

Personalized customer experiences happen on the web, mobile apps, and in contact centers, but the future of the customer experience lies with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Let’s take its ability to power virtual personal and customer assistants through the omnichannel.

Next-gen omnichannel tools that automate the conversational interaction, and their “killer app” are replacing human service assistants. As they quickly gain in sophistication and agility, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to foresee how they can cut operational and other costs while raising efficiency and paving the path to more satisfied users and customers.

Businesses that gain the ability to resolve customer requests autonomously can look forward to achieving 80 percent MTTR, up to 50 percent increased CSAT/NPS scores, and cost reductions ranging to 90 percent.

Using AI to Create a Superior Customer Experience

Now that the importance of the customer experience is an established reality, investing in the technology to create superior customer experience is becoming a natural priority. How can you use technology to make sure each and every customer journey inspires ongoing loyalty?

When you embark on using AI to improve the customer experience, try first to formulate a customer experience vision, and then gain a good understanding of how AI can improve your customer journeys and benefit the business.

Even if you already have data from service and sales reps, social media, Net Promoter Scores, and Customer Effort Scores, you may not have the deep insight you need. So use AI technologies to categorize, organize and analyze customer data. Do you have data that AI can learn from, such as historic emails, call logs or past social care messages? Identify the areas where there is a lot of historic data as well as new data generated regularly. Then find the metrics to track the success of your AI/CX initiative.

Look for projects that can be tracked easily and reveal success (or failure) quickly—high-volume customer queries that are highly repeatable, for example, identify the specific scenarios that AI can solve for. Visit our Resources page to learn more about AI Service Management (AISM), AI ITSM or AI Customer Service solutions that can help you deliver a customer-centric AI Service Experience.