As a customer, how many times have you waited to get in touch with a customer support agent on the phone, listening to a monotonous tune or promotions on loop, only to get frustrated and hang up without receiving any response to your query?
Of course, you never went back to that brand again. And, why should you?
According to Gartner, 89% of businesses compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. Another study indicates that 66 percent of consumers are willing to spend more money on top-notch customer service. The study also found that 55 percent of consumers abandoned a company after experiencing bad customer service.
Indeed, in the era of instant gratification, changing customer expectations demand businesses to adopt the latest technology to deliver a seamless customer experience or risk losing out to competitors who offer more personalized experiences to customers.
Yes, customer experience is the new battleground for businesses. And, AI happens to be a potent weapon that could help you win this war.
But first, what is AI?
In simple terms, AI refers to the intelligence showcased by machines that enables them to think and analyze vast quantities of data for valuable insights that can drive businesses in many spheres.
From smart devices to self-driving cars to chatbots – AI impacts various aspects of our lives.
In fact, AI is all around us. Did you know that 84 percent of people used an AI-enhanced product in 2017–most without even knowing it?
AI and Customer Experience
We are all aware that AI is transforming the way businesses operate in a big way. From data processing to supply chain automation to employee onboarding, AI and automation can save big bucks for most companies when leveraged correctly. However, AI can also make money for businesses by augmenting their marketing efforts and creating meaningful customer experiences, the key to a loyal customer base and higher returns.
Research from PointSource indicates a profound impact of AI in the field of customer experience. The study found that when AI is present, “half of (49 percent) consumers are already willing to shop more frequently, 34 percent will spend more money, and 38 percent will share their experiences with friends and family.” The report also pointed out that 83 percent of those surveyed were OK shopping with a brand or retailer that uses chatbots or other AI capabilities.
Interestingly, about 38% of businesses have introduced the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in their customer service department, and the number is only going to increase in the future. More so, AI will lead to a 10% increase in the quality of communications with customers.
Here are four significant ways in which AI is transforming the customer experience:
1. Empowering Self-Service
Customers’ preferences are changing and they are more comfortable using message-based communications today, making it difficult for businesses to engage with them effectively. Research indicates that by 2020, consumers will manage 85 percent of their relationships with a company without interacting with a human being.
Another survey pointed out that 70 percent of customers expect a company website to include a self-service option, and 40 percent of customers prefer self-service over contacting a support team. In the near future, the demand for instant gratification is only going to rise. Thus, it is safe to assume that customer demand for self-service is also going to increase, isn’t it?
Fortunately, AI can help. Here’s how:
Chatbots for Customer Support
According to Accenture, “$1.6 trillion is lost by American companies due to customers experiencing poor customer service and switching to competitors.”
But what leads to poor customer service, you may wonder.
Research sheds some light on the question by pointing out that 33 percent of customers feel frustrated by having to wait on hold or having to repeat themselves to multiple support reps. No wonder, 40 percent of customers want customer service reps to take care of their needs faster.
Of course, humans have limitations, and a customer support agent can only do as much.
But that’s not the case with chatbots.
Yes, an instructed chatbot can consistently chat for hours without any help from a human. AI-enabled chatbots with domain expertise are, therefore, perfect for responding to customer queries in real time, leading to faster response times and satisfied customers.
Here’s how an intelligent chatbot can transform your business and boost your engagement and leads by 3X:
Faster response time – Bots can sift through massive amounts of data at high speed, providing comprehensive information to users, instantly. Besides, bots do not experience fatigue or boredom or get irritated if a customer uses foul language or repeats a question incessantly. In short, a chatbot will always treat your customers politely, while servicing them 24/7, 365 days a year.
Reduced costs – Chatbots reduce the need for companies to hire and train several human customer service agents. This leads to lower business expenses and lower prices for consumers. According to studies, 29 percent of customer service positions could be automated through chatbots, leading to $23 billion in savings for US businesses.
Streamlining your support function – Depending on the nature of your business, a chatbot can be designed to pass on qualified leads and complex queries to customer support, ensuring that straightforward and common queries are quickly resolved by the chatbot, saving time and effort for both the support agents and customers.
Proactive customer service – Done right, chatbots can streamline the sales path by making the buying process easier, fun, and more rewarding.
For example, intelligent chatbots can begin the conversation and inform customers about various sales and promotions or other content such as blog entries, video tutorials, or products matching to their recent searches to increase engagement on the website.
For transforming the customer experience, it is important to deliver customized support to your users out there. What better than using co-browsing software for achieving this task!
With cobrowse technology, your agents can see your customers’ browsers without visiting their physical location and fix their issues instantly – resulting in up to 18 percent improvement in first call resolution and 14 percent reduction in call handling times.
Cobrowsing also serves as a perfect self-service tool, as it teaches the customers how to do things rapidly and effectively. This benefits the customers as well as your company by saving time at both ends while dispensing the need for hiring a huge support staff – which is an added cost for any organization.
2. Making Sense of Customer Feedback
Feedback is a gift; but only if you can act on it.
Today, most companies are bombarded with comments and queries — in survey responses, support tickets, and social media — and it is a herculean task to go through each comment and process the feedback manually. Fortunately, AI provides an easy solution to this unique problem in the form of sentiment analysis.
By using text and sentiment analysis, companies can transform unstructured qualitative feedback into actionable insights within minutes.
Using Natural Language Processing or NLP, AI can sieve through thousands of comments and categorize them as positive, negative, or neutral. It can also tag the feedback according to specific issues to give you astute information, such as 50% of your negative comments are about a delivery, or 80% of your negative comments are about quality, etc. The best part is that the data and information are updated in real time, allowing you to discover problems instantly and also check whether the implemented solutions to those problems are working or not.
3. Improving Personalization
According to Segment’s 2017 State of Personalization Report, only 22 percent of shoppers are satisfied with the level of personalization they currently receive. Meanwhile, Deloitte reports that 36% of consumers express an interest in purchasing personalized products or services, while 48% are willing to wait longer for a personalized product or service.
AI algorithms use billions of data points such as, purchase behavior, on-site interactions, demographics, previous communications, etc. to build specific customer personas. Such personas make it easier to match customers to the products or services they are most likely to be interested in, improving the customer experience and engagement considerably.
Take the example of Netflix’s recommendation engine. According to data, a typical user spends up to 90 seconds to pick what they want to watch before giving up. However, Netflix’s AI-enabled recommendation panel saves the company up to $1 billion each year through personalized recommendations that have successfully increased customer retention.
Thus, whether it is recommended movies and videos on YouTube and Netflix or music on Spotify, personalization is integral to the customer experience. And, the use of AI makes it easier to deliver personalized experiences.
4. Providing Assistance for Everyday Life
“Alexa – Where is my order?”
Yes, that’s all you need to say to find out the location of your order on Amazon in real time!
It is also common to turn to Alexa to ask for recipes, play music during parties, or dim the lights, as you hit the sack at night. But voice tools such as Alexa, Google Home, and Cortana aren’t just for life assistance – they can do a lot for your business, too!
For example, banks are linking with Alexa and Google Home to enable customers to schedule bill payments seamlessly. Movie theaters across the world now allow users to book tickets and pre-order snacks without even looking at their smartphone screens.
Yes, the age of voice search is upon us.
It is time to move over keyboards, soon consumers may be shopping for products or services without using a keyboard or screen at all! In fact, some companies are also investing in technology to enable customers to converse with their chatbots for query resolution.
Of course, right now the number of AI-enhanced applications is exploding, and it is only a matter of time before we see use cases everywhere. Thus, it falls squarely upon businesses to invest in technology to deliver a more interactive and personalized customer experience and benefit from the first mover advantage.
With the penetration of Artificial Intelligence into daily life, it will be interesting to see how brands will develop products to attract millennials & to deliver customer support enriched with technology. Definitely, AI has started a new era of “self-service”!
Learn more about making sense of customer feedback with Wootric CXInsight™.