Enhancing Customer Centricity: 5 Key AI Strategies

What is Customer Centricity?

Customer centricity is a business approach that involves deeply understanding and anticipating the needs, wants, and preferences of customers. It’s about aligning the organization’s actions and strategies with the customers’ expectations, ensuring that every decision made is centered around providing value and satisfaction to them.

This concept goes beyond merely responding to customer needs; it’s about proactively identifying and fulfilling these needs effectively.

Why Customer Centricity is Important?

By prioritizing the customer’s experience and satisfaction, businesses aim to foster long-term loyalty, drive sustainable growth, and differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace. This approach to customer relationships not only leads to enhanced financial returns in the private sector but also enables nonprofits and government entities to more effectively meet their objectives and serve their constituents.

Crafting a Customer-Centric Strategy: A Five-Step Blueprint for Business Success

In an era where businesses jostle for attention, those that put customers at the heart of their strategy enjoy a distinct advantage. A customer-centric approach is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity. But how does one pivot from theory to execution? This guide provides a structured, fact-proofed pathway to ensure that your business doesn’t just claim customer centricity but genuinely embodies it.

1. Deep Customer Research

Dive into the heart of what your customers truly desire. Adopt both qualitative and quantitative research tools—surveys, focus groups, interviews, and real-time feedback. This step ensures you’re building your strategy on solid ground. Instead of making assumptions, you’re drawing from genuine customer sentiments, laying down the cornerstone for a strategy that genuinely aligns customer value, with your customers’ aspirations and requirements.

2. Customer Journey Mapping

Imagine walking in your customer’s shoes. That’s precisely what customer journey mapping achieves. It traces the entire arc of a customer’s interaction with your brand—from the first inkling of awareness to the post-purchase phase. By charting out this journey, you can identify key touchpoints, unearth potential challenges, and spot opportunities to delight your customers. In essence, it’s about ensuring every twist and turn in the journey is smooth and memorable.

3. Institutionalize Customer Feedback

A strategy that doesn’t evolve is one that stagnates. Setting up systematic channels for feedback—be it monthly surveys, quarterly check-ins, or annual NPS evaluations—ensures you always have your ear to the ground. But gathering feedback isn’t enough; acting on it is crucial. By continually iterating based on what your customers tell you, you send a powerful message—that their voice matters, and you’re here to serve them better, every single day.

4. Employee Training and Empowerment

Your employees are the custodians of the customer centric brand and experience. Equip them with the knowledge and tools to champion customer centricity. By instilling in them the significance of a customer-first mindset and giving them the autonomy and resources to make customer-centric decisions, you ensure that every interaction your customer has with your brand is consistent, positive, and value-driven.

Crafting a customer-centric business strategy might seem daunting, but by following this blueprint, businesses can ensure they’re always in tune with their customers’ needs. After all, in the words of Sam Walton, “There is only one boss. The customer.” Serving this boss right ensures sustained success.

5. Leverage Technology and Data Analytics

In the digital age, understanding customer behavior goes beyond just feedback. Employ advanced data analytics tools to glean insights from customer interactions across digital platforms. This not only helps in personalizing experiences but also in anticipating customer needs, even before the customer vocalizes them. Technology, when wielded correctly, can be the magic wand that transforms a business’s customer-centric aspirations into tangible outcomes.

How to Leverage AI to be a Customer Centric Company

Valuing the customer as the source of revenue and competitive survival is now a given. But it hasn’t always been that way. Poor customer experience is often the reliable–and relatable–fuel of stand-up comedy. On a more serious note, it stands to ruin a full 30 percent of digital business projects, according to Gartner. AI Customer Service is making strides in the AI industry to provide customers with top-of-the-line customer experiences.

Nobody wants to be the statistic in that prediction. So what must businesses do to become more customer-centric and improve customer experience? Simply, it must win at every interaction the customer has with that organization, says Olive Huang, Research Director at Gartner, quoted in a Smarter with Gartner article authored by Laurence Goasduff.

Technology, in the course of delivering innovations, has empowered customers like never before. And they are flexing their muscles; they’re not only noisy about their experiences, but 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 when it comes to customer experience. Interactions that must be “won” range from a precise marketing campaign to responding to pre-purchase questions to contact center interactions regarding orders and deliveries; in other words, every interaction with every customer.

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 standards, 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. Companies 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 receive 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. 

In this product demo video, discover how the retail industry is harnessing artificial intelligence to champion customer-centricity.

“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 that front-ends the automation of complex tasks–and ultimately shortened resolution times. 

As customer service becomes even more imperative, businesses are committing themselves to delivering 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 the agents who assist them.

So improving the experience of both customers and employees–especially those in customer-facing roles–has become a favorite entry project for CIOs looking to implement AI to automate manual tasks and streamline processes.

Personalized customer experiences happen on the web, in mobile apps, and in contact centers, but the future of seamless customer experience lies with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Consider its ability to serve as virtual personal and customer assistants through omnichannel interactions.

Next-gen omnichannel tools that automate 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 customers.

Organizations that gain the ability to resolve customer requests autonomously can look forward to achieving 80 percent MTTR, up to 85 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 technology to create a 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, cases, call logs, or past social care messages? Identify the areas where historic data exists as well as new data is generated regularly. Then find the proper customer service 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. Visit our Resources page to learn more about AI Service Management (AISM) or AI-powered Customer Service solutions that can help you deliver a customer-centric AI Service Experience.

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