Untapped Potential: How AI Will Disrupt Customer Experience

Chatbots help us troubleshoot problems with our cable TV box, and algorithms point us to products most likely to fit our interests. Yet, even as artificial intelligence (AI) weaves its way into the fabric of everyday life, a majority of consumers remain skeptical about interacting with the technology. In a survey of U.S. adult Internet users, the Brookings Institute found that 61% say they’re somewhat or very uncomfortable with robots. 

Part of the problem is that early iterations – just like any emerging technology – don’t work as smoothly as people expect. Thus, consumers form misconceptions about AI’s true capabilities, believing it can’t do much to improve the customer experience. Instead, they envision a future of impersonal robots of limited help.

There are only a few real-world examples in which AI has been fully mastered and implemented, but the technology has enormous untapped potential and grows in capabilities each month. Though consumers may not realize it yet, artificial intelligence will improve everyday life in many ways, and the area it is poised to disrupt the most is customer experience. In implementing AI, companies will also change the way consumers view robots. What follows are just a few early examples of how AI is starting to transform CX.

Personalize to the extreme

Companies know personalization has large appeal for customers, but it’s also yesterday’s news. Elements of personalization such as user-specific page layouts or emails are the expectation, not the exception. With AI and machine learning (ML), businesses will be able to deliver extreme personalization—also known as the move from customer segments to the audience of one, says Forbes. 

For example, the Royal Bank of Scotland uses AI to transform its customer experience by leveraging data intelligence for new interaction opportunities. When a customer repeatedly overdrafts his or her account, the AI conveys the data to the appropriate bank personnel to contact the customer with financial advice. This flag allows the bank to go above and beyond for its customers by responding to specific product use and behavior in real time.

Automate customer experience processes

AI also has the potential to automate many “behind-the-scenes” processes, including targeted marketing and messaging, according to a report by IBM. For instance, one North American retailer automated marketing campaign workflows to better tailor its content to the right audiences. As a result, the marketing department reduced the time to design and launch emails to one-and-a-half days from four days, enabling faster responses to business needs and boosting email open rates overall.

Likewise, companies can automate sales processes to deliver a richer customer experience. Using CRM data, AI can handle the heavy lifting of analyzing a prospect’s needs at every step in the customer journey. When a salesperson picks up the phone, they’re presented with pertinent information about what the prospect needs at that moment and which of the company’s solutions are the best fit.

Transform customer interactions with AI bots

With AI and machine learning, chatbots will become smarter, more helpful and more personable. In the contact center, these technologies enable a more intelligent customer experience. For example, with natural language processing (NLP) and natural language understanding (NLU), virtual agents learn the context of requests, allowing them to search for and deliver the right answers in real time. In addition, if a bot can’t find the answer, it will bring a live agent into the conversation with detailed notes. The virtual agent then remains as an observer, assisting the human agent by finding and sharing relevant information based on the conversation. 

These are just a few of the ways in which AI and machine learning will transform customer experience in the near future. Customer experience is the new battleground, and companies will need to tap into the potential of AI to stay competitive. Consumers may be reluctant to interact with robots today, but exposure to intelligent customer experiences will transform their views of the technology.

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