Customer Experience News & Trends

AI is changing the customer experience: What you need to know

Customers expect a genuine experience. So what will Artificial Intelligence (AI) do to genuine customer experiences? 

AI might sound like a dream come true for customers: It already allows them to do things such as schedule appointments, select features on custom-made items and chat with interactive bots (who seem oh-so-real) while online retail browsing. When AI works right, customers love the convenience and timeliness.

“But when technology gets it wrong – say by misunderstanding the customer request – customer experiences go seriously awry,” say Scott DeKoster and Bailey Nelson, who recently researched AI and the customer experience for Gallup.

AI will continue to evolve, improving the depth and quality of customer experience without human-to-human interaction. But it will never replace the personal touch.

“Every and any human-to-human interaction with a customer is a chance to form a meaningful connection that drives loyalty and profitability,” DeKoster and Nelson say.

Whether you have some AI in place, plan to initiate it into your customer experience, or just want to stay ahead of what could come, Gallup researchers suggest these three critical strategies for AI management in customer service:

Start at the top

Managers have the greatest impact on the customer experience whether it involves AI or not. Managers who embrace AI, invest time and resources in their people and communicate that they care foster the more successful customer experience initiatives.

When managers coach and engage with their front-line employees, those people serve customers better and satisfaction is higher, researchers say. So they’ll become better equipped to handle more complex issues if smaller and routine transactions happen through AI.

Understand customers first

Gallup researchers suggest companies get a much better understanding of what their customers need and want before taking on or enhancing an AI initiative.

Start with the customer analytics and data you already have to uncover the ultimate customer experience. Follow customer perceptions by getting continual feedback on their experiences across the board – personal interactions, online transactions, problem resolution, etc.

Understanding what works in traditional service, and evolving expectations, will lay the right path for AI in the customer experience.

Get more people involved

“Even the most advanced customer analytics are powerless if companies don’t respond with action. Successful leaders encourage desired actions – and, in turn, promote world-class customer experiences – by creating a workplace culture that revolves around customers,” researchers say.

Customer-centric cultures tend to grow out from the areas that are directly involved in the customer experience – service, tech, sales, marketing, fulfillment, delivery – and seep into every area of the organization through upper-level champions.

To build that kind of culture, Gallup suggests companies offer incentives to anyone who helps resolve customer issues quicker and encourage employees to spend time to go the extra mile with customers, rather than meet a need and move on.

When human-to-human interactions run smoothly, customers are more likely to embrace AI in other situations.

“One constant remains: the profound importance of employee-customer interactions,” researchers said. “As enterprises use AI to save money and streamline customer experiences, leaders must continually empower their employees to deliver unparalleled customer service.”


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