When artificial intelligence (AI) changes our perception of customer experience, the consequences are pervasive. In my free e-book “Human-Machine Collaboration” I explore what our future with AI, service workplaces and CX is likely going to look like. Consider the following projections and scenarios regarding the future of your customers’ loyalty in a digital society.
Artificial Intelligence: Where are we at?
Hype or a reality to be reckoned with? This is the question many ponder about AI. Some rather mature AI solutions are already available today. Most providers’ approaches, nevertheless, are still in their infancy at this time. We are just now truly discovering the potential of artificial intelligence. We know that AI can understand and automate our processes. We know AI can soften the blow of skill shortage by supporting knowledge workers and autonomously executing routine tasks. AI offers customers intelligent service and could develop into a core technology for customer loyalty. The question is, how quickly AI will reach commercial market maturity and we will really begin implementing it.
Seamless customer experience with AI
You may wonder whether AI can be used as effectively in customer service as it is being used in autonomous driving, predictive maintenance and smart language assistants? Yes, it can. Especially in customer management, we can expect immense added value from the comprehensive implementation of this key technology. AI connects the essential elements of positive customer experience — an increasingly important factor for successful customer experience. In recent years, we’ve been mainly focused on one thing: formalizing processes to lower costs. We established call centers, launched websites, created service apps. All these innovations were always aimed at increasing efficiency in customer service. Customers fell by the wayside. Customers were missing simple processes, real apprehension and fluid communication.
Status quo: Great service experiences are rare
When was the last time you enjoyed a service experience? Where the customer service staff knows who you are and immediately grasps your problem. And they swiftly refer your request to the right team member in the appropriate department. The colleagues there quickly get the picture and your request is resolved in next to no time — without research, waiting time or multiple switching to a different contact person. This is what customer experience could look like — for you as a customer or at your company. Thus far, though, we’ve been too busy combating the symptoms of below-par customer management. Several departments at an organization are typically involved in the extensive endeavor we call the customer journey. The result: Investments in customer management are piecemeal, touch points are generally not interconnected, a lot of information is lost in space. The seamless, transparent customer journey remains wishful thinking.
AI in customer service: interconnectedness and transparency
Persisting transformation of your customer service requires transparency, interconnected processes and a customer service that is consistently conceived from the customer’s perspective. Nevertheless, a critical challenge remains: The costs of customer service must come down. This is exactly where artificial intelligence will bridge the gap to an infinitely great, digital service experience. The implementation of AI endeavors to truly unburden customer service. One of its greatest accomplishments: In times of ever-growing amounts of data, AI helps us to extract the right insights from the data chaos, which enables us to react quickly and precisely. AI makes customer service available 24/7, offering customers optimal convenience. No doubt, a human agent will always understand customers better than intelligent software. Empathy and instinctive feelings in customer service are more important than ever. Having said that, it is merely a question of time until machine learning platforms can emulate these abilities, too. Herein lies the future of artificial intelligence. To reduce its added value to mastering IQ tests and winning chess world championships would be too superficial.
Exciting development for AI and CX
Artificial intelligence is indeed developing at lightning speed. We will feel its omnipresence in customer service. It will change us. For now, we may still thinking it’s a little spooky when machines act humanly. But we will get used to smart machines, and one day, we will even come to expect machines to become more human. Studies show: Consumers are becoming more and more open to new experiences — this is particularly true for the experience during their customer journey. We should take this serious and get ready for an exciting future with AI. At this time, intelligent software can already understand the content of customer messages, automatically conduct dialogs, route to the right knowledge workers at the right time and provide updates and offer solutions. We should focus on these application areas right now.