From Smartphones to Big Data to Artificial Intelligence, customer experience (CX) has been undergoing tremendous change.
From conservative reports that predicted an outright failure of AI to predictions about Bots replacing humans, Artificial Intelligence (AI), so far, has steered clear of both extremes. However, one thing is clear; that AI is here to stay. Big Data and predictive intelligence has already disrupted the consumer market and purchase journeys. Improving customer experience (CX) remains the top goal for organizations. In this article, we not only discuss how AI will impact on CX in 2020 giving companies possible trends to focus upon, but also indicate ways to harness data, analytics, and AI/ML to meet the end goal of understanding customers in the best possible manner.
A reflection on AI predictions of 2019
A survey conducted by Venture Beats in their webinar to find out how companies are looking to implement AI within CX met with interesting results. 69% of the companies were considering AI and about 16% operationalizing AI. 7% of the companies attending the webinar were not keen on AI at all. Forrester surveys, as mentioned in this Forbes article, indicate that companies are increasing and consolidating their initial tentative investments around AI.
Before we can go on to analyse the predictions for 2020, it will be worthwhile to evaluate how AI was received in 2019.
Fear of Bots replacing humans
Katherine Hird, Senior Product Manager for Bold360 by LogMeln feels that companies are apprehensive of implementing Chatbots to improve their CX. It stems out of a (misplaced) fear amongst employees, and therefore their employers, about Bots replacing them completely. She explains that companies need to understand that AI is a great tool to aid as well as boost human intelligence that will take customer experience to a newer and higher level. Bots present creative opportunities to harness AI and answer queries that often go unanswered during a customer’s journey and make their experience meaningful and enriching.
Lack of Trust
AI involves huge amounts of data collection. Naturally, the question of privacy and trust follows. Customers have a right to know how the information they feed in is going to be used (even if the product intends to make their lives easier). As Prince Arora, Director Product Management Alberstons Companies reveals, customers are ready to interact with AI assistants like Alexa or Google Home, but when it comes to data sharing, they are (rightly) apprehensive because the clarity in terms of security blurs at this point. As a way forward, 2020 should be the year companies look to harness AI for CX work to build trust and confidence amongst their users.
When a customer interacts with a Chatbot or voice-enabled AI assistants like Alexa, a natural language interface isn’t always the best response, especially for critical and sensitive information like a bank statement. Information with sensitive data can be best represented via a visual medium that makes it easier for the customer to access and use data. Ken Dodelin, VP, Capital One, emphasises that a blend of the natural language and graphical user interfaces is something companies will need to be work upon in the coming years.
Given that CX is the top goal for an organization, it is only natural that the discussions around AI eventually lead to having a better and improved customer experience with the brand.
The Top 5 AI predictions for 2020 that will impact CX
- IoT: Self-driven cars are a reality. In the coming years, they are predicted to be the norm with ease of driving, early warning systems, and stress-free navigation being the primary goals. AI in automation will aid and assist in navigating roads and vehicular movement as we know it today. Facilities like monitoring traffic in real-time, finding stolen or lost vehicles or even locating a missing person will be a possibility. Be it smart homes, assisted security facilities for the senior, FitBits or Apple watches, the demand for these IoT technologies will only increase. The increased demand will fuel the need to refine the next generation products and a new age of AI chips would usher in new age technology, says Orr Danon, Co-Founder and CEO, Hailo.
- Proactive AI-enabled services: Proactively anticipating a problem and then solving it using AI will take precedence over providing quick-fix solutions. Ken Dodelin gives us the example of how his company, Capital One, uses AI to warn the customers of a charge at the end of a free financial service rather than having to use technology to credit back the sum for an unintended purchase.
- HealthCare: Prince Arora, Albertsons, touched upon how AI in health care can revolutionize the way the health industry operates. AI-enabled products will assist diagnosis can be used to personalize treatments, recommend right food, and even exercises. Jim VanderMey, CIO, OST echoes the possibility and goes on to add that once the healthcare industry invests considerably in AI and can scale it up, the solutions can be hospital or department-specific.
- Employee Satisfaction: Bots or AI-enabled applications will move away from being seen as a threat to human intelligence. Just as customer expectations are on the rise, employees want more out of their workplace. Kathrine Hird, Bold360, argues that employees are the first customers of any organization and AI can be used to free up employee-time to offer better and creative solutions to brand engagement. John Bates, Director of Product Management, Adobe Analytics predicts that 2020 will be the year AI will be harnessed to provide better collaboration and harmony between man and machine. AI can take over being the “always-on-call” assistant, leaving creative tasks to be handled by human resources.
- Biometrics as currency with greater security: Can facial recognition go beyond phone locking systems and be used to clear security checks at airports? How about using biometrics to pay your next purchase instead of swiping the credit card? Facilities that seemed incredulous just a few years ago don’t raise eyebrows today because of AI. 2020 can be the year we move towards this possibility. Security and transparency go hand-in-hand. Building trust will be the foremost step in this direction. Government laws and company policies must go beyond the cursory terms and conditions to inform customers how such huge volumes of sensitive data will be used.
Using ‘Buyer Rhythms’ to know your customers
Speaking of volumes, AI involves using high volumes of data. Big Data has acquired a whole new meaning in this context. However, there’s already a lot of unused data and the real challenge will be to harness AI in creative ways to apply what’s available as opposed to pumping in more data.
Suyati’s Buyer Rhythms integrates all the customer touch points seamlessly to give you a single, unified view of his needs, wants, and purchase decisions. Furthermore, it allows companies to identify and focus on segments with the highest potential value.
Better and consistent customer engagement will involve capturing newer channels of communication without being intrusive and then using predictive technology to pick the one most preferred by the customer. Buyer Rhythms helps to move them from tactical interventions to providing a personalized experience through personalized Ads, and recommendations for a fluid CX.
Are you AI-ready yet? If you’re still evaluating your options and wondering how best to use this opportunity, our experts at Suyati can help.