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Guest Blog: How Will Artificial Intelligence Impact CX and Customer Service?

This week we feature an article by Lindsay Tjepkema who shares how people are using AI strategies and the impact they are having on the world of CX. – Shep Hyken

Introduction: AI in CX

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The CX industry is primed for a breakout in the application of artificial intelligence — as other fields like biotech, healthcare, automotive, and cybersecurity have also seen.

How? Self-learning machines can improve your website visitors’ personalized experience in a multitude of ways. For example, algorithms are able to digest complex customer data and provide relevant content to individuals at the right time.

AI-driven chatbots are being deployed more and more within customer support functions, but web personalization extends beyond just automated bots. Other areas of personalization include tailored product recommendations, personalized content widgets, and customized overlays that fire on exit intent. Of course, these kinds of functionalities typically rest with marketing, yet they very much impact the overall customer experience.

I wanted to go beyond just regurgitating facts, figures, and formulas that you can find scattered about the web about how AI is impacting CX. I wanted to glean first-hand knowledge and stories from some of the brightest CX minds I know — and who are implementing AI strategies every day — to bring you unique perspectives on the extent to which the CX industry is being impacted by AI.

Ask the Experts: How AI is Impacting CX?

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So, how is AI changing customer experience? I turned to a few of my colleagues to find out.

“There are two main angles that describe how AI improves CX for e-commerce companies, their end consumers, and own employees.

Customers receive far deeper personalization that they were used before. AI-powered self-learning algorithms consider more ‘moments in time’ and not just browse and purchase behavior as most typical recommendation engines do today. AI can consider channel behavior (in-store, print, SMS, social, web, email, support chat, mobile app, and more) as well as lifecycle stage of an end consumer. It’s not only showing the right content on the web or via email but can decide if these are even the appropriate channels to engage with a customer at any given time. It can also dictate the best kind of discount to give a customer based on lifecycle stage – like whether to show a discount at all and, if ‘yes’, which specific offer will increase buyer frequency.

For [customer support and marketing] employees, the main benefit is operational efficiency. AI relieves time-consuming tasks to help you get results quicker, and spend less time building segments and assets for channels, manually defining automation flows manually, and removing tactical work. You’ll ultimately be able to focus on strategy, and adapt much faster to the things that matter most.”

Daniel Eisenhut • VP, Services & Support, Emarsys • @eisenhut_danLinkedIn

For the customer, AI will create a better experience, especially in the retail realm where brands will know more and be able to do more with the data they’ve collected about a particular person. No matter what store you walk into, they will know your customer profile and your preferences. For example:

  • Restaurants will be able to recommend some new dishes to try (or to avoid) based on previous orders
  • Clothing outlets will be able to suggest certain sizes and colors — and let customers re-order their favorite pair of shoes as soon as they walk inside (and it will not require any human interaction).
  • Travel agencies and airlines can learn your preferred times of year to take vacations and favorite destinations to help you schedule your trips in the future
  • Health and fitness-related apps will be able to analyze your specific information to suggest certain fitness programs or diets, as well as perform intelligent doctor appointment scheduling

“The concept of ‘customer experience’ is truly a blend of qualitative and quantitative data. Human emotion and intellect will continue to influence the customer experience as long as people remain the purpose behind the numbers. The adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning presents the opportunity to enhance the customer experience while maintaining an authentic and meaningful connection with those who matter most: people.”

Cameron Halcomb • Customer Experience Consultant, Emarsys • @cam_hasslerLinkedIn

Customer service, specifically, is on the verge of mass adoption of artificial intelligence within the next several years. AI helps connect people with the right representatives and/or content. It’s not unusual to talk to a robot and get your problem resolved before you have to drive to a store or speak to a human representative. AI is making the support experience smoother – but is also affecting other areas like pricing, ordering, and product offers.

“Some companies use AI for dynamic pricing – depending on the visitor’s profile, a website or app can display the price most likely to convert them.

Or if you start a new hobby, you don’t have to go online and buy things separately. Just let the machine know that you want to start painting and it will order brushes, an easel, canvases, and some acrylic paints.

Simple, right? Every major life event is usually connected to purchases and it’s not just one purchase. The knowledge that AI systems harness can save you a lot of time and plan those purchases just by using one input – your event type. If you’re moving to a new house after graduation, for example, we know what people usually order during this kind of life event, so the machine can predict your needs and suggest purchases – until they’re at your front door.”

Alex Bekhterev • Program Manager, Americas, Emarsys • LinkedIn

Conclusion

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The introduction of AI to retailers and other e-commerce businesses has revolutionized customer experience in the last couple of years and will impact even greater change as AI readiness/demand is at all all-time high. For the most part, it’s easy to recognize (and get started) using machine learning and artificial intelligence in a customer experience/service context. Common use cases include:

  • Using AI-driven chatbots on your website to operationalize customer support
  • Anticipating and recommending new options for customers based on past history
  • Offering dynamic pricing depending on the likelihood of an individual to convert

Ultimately, AI will help make for a smoother, more enjoyable, more relevant customer experience and more efficient customer support interactions. The result of this increased relevance and personalization will be less of a need/reliance on your support team to handle mass quantities of incoming support queries.

I’m excited for the future of AI for customer experience practitioners, as I hope you are. Look for AI to augment and enhance, not take, your job, and watch efficiencies, customer loyalty, and sales rise to new heights.

Lindsay Tjepkema is the Global Head of Content for Emarsys. She and her team deliver resources that empower marketers to seek out solutions and strategies that will allow them to thrive by focusing on what they love – strategy, content, and creative – not the technology, itself.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: You Cannot Downsize Your Way To Profit: Newspapers’ Lesson In Customers’ Changing Habits

 

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