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AI in CX: Don’t Get Left Behind

Over the past few years, the barrier to entry for artificial intelligence (AI) solutions has lowered significantly due to technological advancements, increased accessibility, and better affordability.

These solutions are also shifting the landscape of customer experience (CX). With the rapid pace of change, is it worth it for customer service teams to deploy AI-enabled tools? And where is it being most often deployed? Let’s dive in.

The State of AI in CX Today

Customer expectations are evolving more rapidly than ever, fueled in part by the pervasive influence of AI. 

According to the Intercom Customer Service Trends Report 2024, a staggering 87% of support teams agree that customer service expectations have surged over the past year, and 68% say AI is directly influencing those expectations.

At the same time, many companies are struggling to keep up with the rapid evolution of technology, which is changing CX’s trajectory. Our recent report, which examined survey results from respondents in the supply chain industry, found that the most commonly cited CX challenge was a lack of technology.

The AI revolution in the CX space is reshaping not just interactions with customers but also business strategies. More than ever, customer care management teams must constantly revisit the question, “What new tech should we invest in, and to what extent?” Organizations that don’t adapt swiftly risk being left behind by the competition.

The Technology Behind the AI Revolution

Staying updated with AI trends in CX is crucial for businesses to maximize customer engagement, enhance operational efficiency, and gain a competitive edge.

The most commonly used AI technology in CX includes:

  • Generative AI (Gen AI): Harnesses deep learning models to create new content based on a given data set and a prompt, like text, images, and other content. 
  • Machine Learning: Allows AI to learn from data patterns without specific human intervention, understanding and repeating successful actions over time.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): Enables computers to comprehend human language, allowing for sentiment analysis, summarization, etc.

It’s important to note that these types of AI frequently intersect and build upon one another. For example, advanced chatbots like ChatGPT have combined AI and NLP to create human-like responses, a process that falls under the umbrella of Gen AI.

Real-World Applications

AI is often intermixed with people-driven CX processes, enabling front- and back-end support. Here are a few examples of how AI can be incorporated into an effective CX strategy:

  • Chatbots help automate customer support interactions, particularly routine inquiries, freeing up human customer support agents to handle more complex issues. This enhances efficiency and enables companies to provide 24/7 support with less overhead. 
  • AI aids in ticket creation and routing by gathering customer details, often through conversational chatbots, for a lower-friction experience than filling out a form.
  • AI-powered personalization tailors recommendations and support based on past interactions and preferences, ensuring seamless channel transitions.
  • Sentiment analysis identifies customer sentiments at the start of an interaction to route the issue to the most appropriate agent. This optimizes interactions and ensures that customer service strategies are emotionally intelligent and empathetic.

Challenges of AI in CX

The hype around AI can often lead to the misconception that it's entirely smooth sailing to implement. In reality, implementing any new system can be a complex, challenging process, and AI systems are often uniquely challenging.

Common challenges associated with AI-powered CX tools include:

  • Cost. In addition to the cost of initial setup and integration into your current tech stack, there are ongoing expenses for development, support services, training, and more.
  • Time to value. Incorporating AI into your business isn't an overnight task. It takes time to plan, test, train employees, and make adjustments, and some disruptions may occur during the process.
  • Balancing AI with human support. AI can enhance efficiency, but it can’t provide the empathy and nuanced understanding that a human can. Customer preferences should be considered and taken into account as you find the best ratio for your organization. Clear communication is also crucial—customers should always know if they're talking to an AI or someone.
  • Managing data sets. AI is only as useful as the data it’s fed. The data you put into the system must be accurate, directly affecting how well your AI tools perform.

While it's important to be aware of these potential obstacles, they don't need to scare you away from AI altogether — they just require some extra strategizing and planning to mitigate.

Benefits of AI in CX

Why has AI taken off so quickly in the CX arena, and why is it so valuable? When implemented thoughtfully, AI can deliver:

  • Improved customer satisfaction. AI can boost crucial KPIs like first-time resolution rates and CSAT scores by reducing wait times.
  • Enhanced scalability and business growth. AI can automatically handle high volumes of routine requests, allowing your business to efficiently manage growing customer service demands.
  • Consistent and accurate customer support. AI is utilized for both front-end experiences and back-end processes, and all agents are equipped with the same information, ensuring a seamless and reliable customer experience.
  • Reduced agent burnout. By automating repetitive tasks, AI allows CX agents to focus on complex issues requiring creativity and empathy, improving the employee experience and lowering turnover rates.
  • 24/7, multilingual customer support. AI can fill operational gaps when human agents aren't available and extend customer support in different languages, improving inclusivity and accessibility.
  • Advanced data analysis. AI can process vast amounts of data, identifying essential trends and patterns, from customer churn to opportunities for improved resource allocation. This quick, accurate analysis can be used to make more timely business decisions. 

AI technologies are undeniably transforming the customer experience. When successfully implemented and leveraged with human support, AI can be valuable to any customer care strategy by elevating customer satisfaction, enhancing scalability, streamlining support processes, and more. Businesses that recognize and seize AI’s potential will shape the future of customer experience.

Curious about other trends that are shaping the future of CX?

Download our report, 2024 Customer Service Trends in the Supply Chain.

Download here

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