How AI Is Revolutionizing the Way Customers Experience the Enterprise
Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions are transforming customers’ expectations of what constitutes exceptional service. A well-executed AI experience increases convenience for customers. However, a clunky or poorly orchestrated solution can actually increase customers’ frustration when interacting with your brand.
The challenge is that, in many cases, fast-paced technological innovation in consumer goods is setting the pace for customers’ expectations for enterprise interactions. Enterprises that are rushing to keep pace run the risk of missteps that will create a net-negative customer experience.
To ensure a positive AI experience for customers, it’s important that enterprises begin with clear goals for the value they hope to achieve through AI, and a strategic path toward achieving these goals.
How AI solutions add value
Customers see effective AI as a more convenient means for solving problems. That’s because AI-powered solutions, such as chat or SMS-based bots, typically allow customers to work at their own pace. Yet there’s quite a bit happening behind the scenes of this fast-evolving technology to create the convenience that customers expect.
On the back end, intelligent routing solutions are quickly connecting customers with agents who have expertise in a specific area or are already familiar with the customer’s open issue. Rather than having a customer express their concern, AI can access data that allows agents to dive right into solutions for a more streamlined customer experience.
AI provides agents with real-time resources that can resolve customers’ questions more quickly. For example, an AI application listening live to a conversation might provide an agent with articles about the most common problems involving the product in question. This capability also supports more effective offer management, with offers better tailored to a user’s needs. The resulting higher conversation rates shift call centers from a cost center to a revenue center.
AI solutions also provide a more customized experience. This might be as simple as greeting customers by name when they come online or onto the call, much the way their smart devices at home might. More sophisticated solutions might even know which customers prefer to switch over to a fully digital experience, deflecting traffic from busy agents.
AI can also create a more natural experience for customers. For example, voice-based AI solutions respond to a speaker’s cues, rather than requiring customers to wade through long menus. Voice-based AI solutions also expand contact to customers who might not download an app or turn to the web. Conversational AI solutions help bridge the digital divide.
7 ways to improve the AI-customer experience
Achieving the value described above requires strategic planning. Below are seven strategies we believe critical for creating the best possible customer experience for the most impactful return on investment.
1. Set expectations. AI technology has clear limitations; establishing these limitations upfront is important. For example, a chat bot that asks “what can I help you with” but can’t deliver a clear response to most questions risks frustrating customers. To prevent this negative experience, it’s important to contextualize the function of the bot upfront. Your customers will accept bots’ limitations so long as they know what to expect.
2. Don’t ignore your transitions. Bots’ containment rates are still fairly low, but it’s the transition from bot to agent that determines how this impacts the customer experience. The worst experience you can deliver is to follow up a bot’s failure to solve a customer’s concern with an agent who has no context regarding the customer’s needs.
Increasingly, AI solutions are being designed to provide information to agents about customers’ needs so that agents can quickly dive in and resolve the situation. AI won’t solve everything, so it’s important to ensure smooth transitions.
3. Don’t implement it and forget it. It’s a rare solution that is rolled out perfectly the first time. Ongoing maintenance and improvement are a must. This includes tracking bots’ performance to identify areas for improvement. And, as business expands and customer needs change, it’s important to expand AI capabilities to include new functions and features.
4. Upskill your staff. Designing web and mobile applications requires a completely different skill set from designing AI-driven voice and chat interactions. You have to understand customers’ intents and learn how to model that in language. This may require you to upskill your team or outsource this AI implementation and maintenance work.
5. Start with good data. Strong AI interactions start with good data, yet few organizations have CRM data that can effectively support their AI systems. What’s more, data is far more useful when AI can access information across integrated systems.
6. Streamline technology solutions. Multichannel solutions are of paramount importance, but this doesn’t mean investing in a multitude of new platforms. Today, telephony platforms, CRMs and technology companies like Google all offer AI-driven customer experience solutions. Most enterprises have some investment in each of these types of technologies, so it’s important to understand which solution best meets your needs, which channels offer the biggest return on investment, and how to integrate various technologies.
7. Work with reliable partners. AI technology is evolving fast, and there is much to learn. If your team does not have the knowledge to develop AI programs, you need to find a partner you can learn from and that can keep you on the leading edge of evolving AI applications that provide an exceptional customer experience.
Consumers have more options than ever for reaching out to a company with questions or concerns, but with more options comes higher expectations. Customers whose expectations aren’t met are increasingly proving that they will go elsewhere for their service.
It can be hard to fathom a life without customer service in it. Before remote desktop support, live chat and other contact center solutions, there were complex phone trees and outsourced call centers and before that there were buggy IVR systems and telephone switchboards connecting you to the store you purchased the product from.