When it comes to great customer engagement, AI enhances your experience. It can be your best friend. Or, an inadvertent foe. When used in the right way, AI can eliminate many challenges faced by both customers and agents – reducing operational costs and agent stress, allowing greater personalisation and a seamless experience for consumers. However when used incorrectly, AI can swiftly turn customers away.
This is because at heart we all crave the same thing – human connection. AI in the place of human interaction can quickly infuriate customers and drive them into the arms of another brand – but AI that fosters better, more meaningful human interaction can keep customers happier and for longer, creating greater lifetime customer value.
So how can companies get the balance right? A good starting point is looking at challenges within the CX pipeline that can be easily solved by AI, as well as best ways to leverage these gains for the long-term benefit of your business.
Benefits of AI and automation in the customer experience
The interest in and investment in AI for CX is creating new and exciting opportunities for brands. Good implementations can achieve benefits like:
- Reduced operational costs – At a time when macroeconomic forces are creating uncertainty, marketing teams need to do more with reduced budgets. The use of Conversational AI can reduce human involvement and lengthy manual processes, for example by reducing inbound calls to contact centres, resulting in better use of resources and greater cost efficiency.
- Better experience for customers – AI has changed the way customers engage with brands both online and through contact centres. Conversational AI can guide customers through their online purchasing journey and reduce the number of steps in the process, rather than trying to navigate often complex search categories. In the back-end, AI can also streamline an agent’s understanding of customer’s needs, making it easier for them to deliver tailored solutions that directly solve problems; in fact, the latest contact centre solutions now use generative AI to prompt agents with the next best action based on the customers’ specific history and needs.
- Reduced agent stress: AI can play an important role in reducing an agent’s workload and level of stress by deploying features such as transcription and automated report writing. AI also serves to bring together disparate data points, giving agents simple, actionable insights to work with. When workloads are reduced and agents are equipped with data rich insights, more time can be spent on providing meaningful human connection.
How AI enhances without the drawbacks
While there are many benefits, improper use of – or full dependence on – AI can often lead to poor customer experiences, negating the reason for implementing it in the first place. Here are some tips on getting it right.
- Always have an escalation point: Nobody likes talking to a chatbot if it isn’t helpful in solving their problem. The best technologies help ensure a seamless interaction, but it’s still always important to ensure that there is an immediate hand-off to a live agent when the customer is not satisfied with the chatbot responses. Real-time data access from Conversational AI solutions can help agents to intervene promptly when the AI engine cannot grasp the full context of the customer’s enquiries.
- Create human-like conversations: All conversations today need to feel human – even if they’re not. While chatbots operate based on straightforward rules and often rely on predefined content, Conversational AI systems use natural language processing (NLP) and more recent advancements in Large Language Models (LLMs) to generate complex sentences independently, understand the user’s intent, and respond to customers as humans would. When this capability is paired with the deep customer insights that live within an organisation’s Customer Engagement Platform, the customer experience can become even richer.
- Enhance the agent experience: While Agent Assist Technologies are growing in importance, many agents are still working with multiple dashboards in front of them including knowledge systems and CRM. Especially when speaking to high value customers, agents should be able to access all intelligence on a single dashboard, otherwise job complexity, stress – and also likely a negative customer experience – will result.
AI is an incredibly valuable tool for brands in the current market. While it can enhance customer experiences, it should never be a replacement for the human connection that lies at the heart of great brand-customer interactions. When used in the right way, AI can create greater human interaction, and ultimately help create loyal customers who will drive greater lifetime value for your business.
Nicholas Kontopoulos is the vice president of marketing, Asia Pacific & Japan at Twilio.