Limiting a customer’s ability to engage is increasingly deemed unacceptable in a 24-hour global environment. Technology solutions with automation platforms have been getting exponentially more sophisticated in terms of giving customers Artificial Intelligence (AI)- enabled options for how they want to engage.

Whether the customers are internal or external, ensuring their needs and expectations are met and exceeded should be the first order of any service provider or enterprise. After all, an unhappy customer is not good for a brand or the bottom line.

Multiple options such as texting/SMS, telephone, email, live or AI chat, or self-service allow the customer to select channels based on factors like the type of business, complexity of the question, generational preference, and urgency.

The AI value can be seen in nearly-standard methods such as automated chatbots for frequently asked questions. Answers are more easily sourced by the customer, who turned to the chatbot after difficulty navigating the website. Additionally, the service desk is freed from routine tasks and can use its customer-facing time to develop a stronger relationship and understanding of needs.

According to CX Consulting Director Lori Carr of management consulting firm RevGen Partners, AI enhancements like chatbots and interactive voice response can prove beneficial to employee job satisfaction, customer retention, and ease of doing business. But adding chatbot technology shouldn’t be mistaken as a fix-it-and-forget-it solution, and if the technology is not geared for the right audience, it can cause more frustration. A tech-based audience may understand some chatbot prompts that would leave someone else confused. Software is trending toward personalization, according to a Forrester study commissioned by Ontario, Canada-based software company Ada.

According to the report, “most of the currently available conversational platforms that automate interactions across the customer journey are not business-friendly (being geared more toward the IT user), not able to access enterprise-wide data to personalize interactions, and are primarily focused only on providing answers to frequently asked questions.”

In its conclusion, Forrester sums it up this way: “If organizations continue to invest in tools which actively fight against the typical business user, they will not succeed. AI-powered chatbot technologies, that can be customized and operated by CX teams, must be embraced.”

While the concept is understood in general, the importance of measuring results and their impact on ROI is always the standard when considering investments. Carr points to American Express and Amazon as enterprises whose AI is so sophisticated that the experience is seamless. And more companies should strive to emulate them in terms of customer experience.

Basic AI integrations can reduce labor costs by upwards of 20-30%, she noted. Customer sentiment and satisfaction can be tracked in several ways, including CSAT, net promoter score (NPS), and customer effort score (CES). Carr said the type of data needed will drive which score impacts the business.

CSAT, or customer satisfaction, is generally transactional while NPS is a measuremore geared toward relationship satisfaction. Both are more subjective scores in terms of the customer’s personal experience. CES is a bit less subjective because it measures effort required through mechanisms offered.

Customer retention, expansion, and lifetime data can illustrate the long-term value of implementing AI-enhanced software.

“When you put how people feel and how they behave into metrics, you can tie that back to a financial performance,” Carr said.

“What are you waiting for?” Carr said she would ask any company questioning the value of incorporating AI software into its business plan. “I think the industry and the approach are mature enough to show you’ll get a return on your investment. From employee and customer points of view, they want it. AI avoids spending time when it could be freed up for things that matter to evolution and growth of their company.”

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Shelly Sack

Shelly is Manager of Content programs for AOTMP®

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