In today’s highly competitive business environment, the customer experiences a brand delivers are its single biggest differentiator, outpacing even product, price and quality. In fact, Gartner found that 89 per cent of businesses compete mostly based on customer experience.
This begs the question – what kinds of experiences keep consumers coming back?
Today’s customers are looking for more than just a transactional relationship. They want a deeper and more meaningful relationship that feels good regardless of where they are in the journey – whether they’re making their first purchase, paying an invoice or requesting service long after their initial purchase.
They also expect a highly personalised experience. Companies need to know them, understand their preferences, be available to them how and when they want to interact and even anticipate what they may want next.
To give consumers this kind of experience, businesses need to deliver consistent seamless service across all channels and tailor interactions based upon past customer behaviour, transactions or queries. In order to do this well, they need to use artificial intelligence (AI).
AI is fundamentally changing how businesses and consumers interact by ushering in a new era of personalisation. It’s capable of driving unprecedented levels of operational and business efficiencies. AI turns the mountains of data that businesses already have access to into actionable insights.
In 2018 alone, venture capital funding for AI companies soared by 72 per cent. One of the biggest drawcards for the implementation of AI is its endless potential to influence the customer journey. AI is no longer something that will impact businesses in the distant future.
It is here now, and businesses are already taking advantage of its ability to produce targeted outcomes, assist employees in responding to customer requests, automating mundane tasks and enabling consumers to “self-serve”.
Blended AI Leading the Customer Experience Model
Increasingly, organisations are in a race to stay ahead of the competition and transform their operations to become a true digital business. While this can create tremendous cost reductions, it can put customer experience at risk if not done properly.
Exceeding customer expectations and delivering a stellar experience is something businesses will continue to strive for, but when technology gets it wrong, the cost to the business can be disastrous and severely impact its bottom line.
Poor customer experiences regardless of which channel they are delivered on are detrimental to any business. We’ve all been stuck in an automated loop we can’t escape – when all we need is talk to a human.
AI provides the greatest value when it supplements and extends the capabilities of employees. This occurs when blended AI interactions, automation and machine learning are combined with real people, to provide customers with the best possible experience.
For example, companies can use automation to parse, prioritise and instantly surface relevant information from its omnichannel data streams to help their employees promptly provide the best answer to a customer query. Or, consumers can talk to a brand in a single web chat thread that involves seamless handoffs between humans and bots.
Customers Demand Instant Experiences
Customers are demanding faster, easier, and more personal ways to interact with brands and purchase products. The growth of mobile, voice assistants and AI is raising customer expectations and generating greater expectations to deliver at the right time, with the right offer, using the right channel and with the right resource messaging.
In 2019, Genesys predicted that if an organisation wanted to grow their market share, they would need to achieve three things:
- Real-time communications across any channel including concurrent channels
- Predictive intelligence and assistance
- More personalised and meaningful customer engagement
Meeting the demand for instant experiences is no longer just a trend, but an imperative of the new customer experience model.
The increased fascination with voice technology has seen a proliferation of voice assistants being used in our homes and businesses.
This technology presents an opportunity for organisations to use AI and machine learning to deliver smarter real-time customer engagement, literally when people ask. Businesses who can meet these customer needs will be rewarded with greater customer loyalty and sales growth.
The Commercial Impact
The good news for businesses large and small, AI is more accessible than ever. Organisations no longer need a team of data scientists to develop their own algorithms and code to implement AI. They just need a willingness to embrace new, ready-made technologies that can be adapted to their specific business outcomes to achieve desired results.
The growth of low-code and no-code solutions can have a significant impact for businesses, who in turn, require less advanced skillsets to implement and operate these platforms. These solutions alleviate pressure on development teams and allow business teams to move at lightning speed, enabling companies to implement highly successful technology to help them achieve targeted goals.
As AI and machine learning continue to develop at an unprecedented speed, so will customer expectations of what makes a great experience. To remain ahead of the curve, organisations need to embrace the use of AI and machine learning into the customer experience. Blending AI with real people will provide the ultimate recipe for success.
Find out more about how businesses are using AI to enhance their customer experiences.
Gwilym Funnell is Senior Vice President Asia-Pacific and Japan for Genesys.