In the old days if you wanted to go automated you could only provide your customers with basic canned responses to predictable questions. These old systems weren’t particularly effective when it came to understanding detailed questions and providing complex answers. They often provided an un-empathic response to a customer, creating a negative experience.
Artificial intelligence has been around since 1956, however brands have only recently started to adopt it for core consumer services. The reason for the shift is the improved customer experience. Now Artificial Intelligence allows customers to ask complex questions and be provided with a response that is more relevant and more empathic than ever before.
Here are the five ways in which AI is changing the customer experience:
AI can help you to reduce the amount of friction they might have faced before using old systems or speaking to a human. Streamlining your processes will improve your customer experience by making it simpler for them to purchase from you. For example, a customer may want to track their parcel. Traditionally this might mean phoning a contact centre and waiting until an operator is available. To streamline the process, you could use an AI Chatbot instead. This would enable the customer to enter a few details and receive a friendly response detailing where their parcel is in the delivery process.
Natural language interfaces
Speech recognition technology has come a long way with advances in natural language understanding. This enables customers to speak to an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system in a natural way. This is a vast improvement than old systems which required one work answers to specific questions. Customers can now provide more complex requests. For example, a person could say “I want to pay my bill” or “could I please settle my account” and both would be recognised as the same request.
Every customer is different and you want to be able to use AI to understand and respond to this. Using AI enables you to provide your customers with a personalised experience. You can use AI to simply respond to customers with their name in a messenger service or you can use web technology to pop open a Chatbot on a website when a visitor is having difficulties (eg. Not completing shopping baskets).
Chatbots are designed to understand specific phrases in written requests, and then respond to customers accordingly, but now they are also self-learning. This technology is only getting started, but it has the potential to handle complex enquiries once technologists have discovered a way to cope with the problems of written language. The more information a Chatbot receives, the better it’s accuracy and the more natural it’s responses will be. Using messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Chatbots are now able to check the weather, flights, bank balances and even send flowers, all without downloading an app or talking to a human.
The marketing world is all a buzz for the potential to integrate both offline and online, omnichannel customer experiences using AI. When your map out your customer’s journey, you will probably find you have offline and online touchpoints. AI holds the potential to remove this barrier. For example, a hotel might use AI to provide a virtual host for guest self-service. They could use the AI to request a variety of hotel amenities such as towels, room service, information about the local area and record complaints.
Finally, there is a lot of potential with AI and marketers see it as the next big thing. You can personalise responses to your customers providing a better experience than the old dusty canned responses of the past, but you need to be careful. Providing personalised experiences is great, but don’t enter that privacy zone. Once your business knows too much about the customer it can turn into a negative experience. Be careful to strike the right balance.