BusinessDIT reports that in 2023, approximately 35% of businesses will be using AI, a number expected to increase exponentially. But what’s driving businesses to use AI?

AI works in a way that allows it to be used for various monotonous or highly detailed tasks that humans would otherwise have to do. It allows for time savings, accuracy, and quick decision-making.

In this blog, we’ll cover how you can utilise the tool to provide better customer service.

How can Artificial Intelligence Benefit the Customer Experience?

Forbes reported that nearly two-thirds (64%) of 600 business owners believe AI will improve customer relationships. The benefits of AI can enhance various businesses across industries.

Listed below are just a few of the benefits that AI can provide: 

Re-direction Requests

AI can look for specific information and data points involved in a customer request (query or logged ticket) that'll allow it to identify the nature and potential severity of the request. These could include common customer problems, such as delivery delays or refund issues.

The main benefit is that the AI can escalate requests to more capable hands (human agents) when appropriate. It also means that the more common customer queries are addressed without the need for human involvement. Therefore, they have more time to deal with more pressing matters.

Collecting and Analysing Customer Feedback

According to HubSpot, 28% of customer service experts leverage AI to collect and analyse customer feedback. Managing customer sentiment is crucial for providing the optimal customer experience as it measures customers' attitudes and opinions towards a brand.

Gathering customer feedback can be time-consuming as it requires data from online surveys, social media, and product reviews. However, collating customer feedback can increase customer satisfaction when needs are addressed directly. This is where AI can be a highly useful tool.

Addressing Customer Queries via Chatbots

Chatbots have changed the game in terms of enhancing the customer experience. The main goal of a chatbot or a virtual assistant is to provide the customer with the convenience of information. If the chatbot successfully directs the customer to the info they require, it should mean they have a better experience in navigating the website or app. 

Therefore, the benefits of integrating chatbots into the customer experience cannot be understated. Unlike humans, machines are unaffected by fatigue and can operate efficiently 24/7. Bringing them in should mean reduced wait times and costs whilst increasing potential leads and sales for your business.

Examples of Businesses Improving Customer Experience with AI Technology

Due to the acceleration in AI technologies, more businesses are turning to artificial intelligence to improve not just their standard of customer experience but also the perception of their brand.

Here's how some global brands have harnessed AI to enhance their user experience: 

McDonald's Interactive Kiosk Product Recommendations

Technology has gradually weaved its way into our lives at an exponential rate. The novelty of buying products and services from a human in a store is becoming less common with each passing year. Instead, more and more companies have opted for interactive kiosks. These algorithm-driven devices can offer a great user experience as most are accessible in numerous languages and offer seamless navigation between the respective companies' products and services. 

McDonalds are arguably the most recognisable brand on the planet. They consistently place innovation at the forefront of the customer experience. In 2015, they began rolling out interactive touchscreen devices across their stores worldwide. 

These machines were designed to give McDonald's customers the best possible experience across their restaurants. The upside to these AI-powered, self-service machines includes increased efficiency, faster service, and a more user-friendly experience. 

From a marketing perspective, the kiosks are a dream. These machines can drive sales by offering customised product recommendations based on factors such as the other items ordered or the weather/season. Customers can also customise their orders, providing a more personalised experience. 

Statista estimates that the interactive kiosk market revenue could surpass $45.32 billion by 2028, a staggering increase compared to the $28.34 billion worth of revenue reported in 2021. Therefore, it's safe to say that interactive kiosks will play even more prominent roles in the customer experience in the future.

Spotify's Hyper-personalised Customer Experience

Spotify is the world's most popular audio streaming service, boasting over 550 million users and over 220 million subscribers. The music-streaming service leverages artificial intelligence to provide its customers with hyper-personalised song recommendations. The AI does this by detecting the user's experience whilst interacting with various songs, artists and playlists within Spotify. It then suggests personalised recommendations based on that particular user's preferences.

It can be argued that this hyper-personalised experience that the customer receives sets Spotify apart from its competitors as the most popular music streaming service.

Macy's AI Store Assistant

It can be a frustrating experience for a customer needing to locate a store assistant on the shop floor to address their needs. Macy's (American Department Store Chain) recognised this need as an opportunity and pounced on it by introducing a cognitive AI technology (aptly named "Macy's on Call") to help enhance the customer experience within their stores.

This smartphone-based virtual assistant can provide personalised and responsive answers to customer queries. It can inform customers about the necessary information (product location/availability) within seconds.

The revolutionary technology can be considered a win-win for the customer, the company, and the staff, and is an excellent example representing a company that has turned to AI to address a customer's need. 

The Drawbacks of AI Technology:

While AI technologies undoubtedly bring numerous benefits, such as the ones we have mentioned above, there are also various potential drawbacks businesses could face regarding how AI could affect the customer experience negatively. 

  • Alienating Segments of the Market: Perhaps one of the most significant risks with adopting AI technology into your business is losing certain proportions of your customer base. Some people aren't comfortable using technology and are consequently less likely to want to use it. There are still grey areas regarding how AI uses personal data, which also puts people off.
  • Continuous Maintenance: AI simply cannot operate without its algorithms. The AI will likely generate incorrect or inconclusive information if these algorithms aren't calibrated correctly or updated regularly. Therefore, AI systems must be constantly monitored and maintained to reduce the likelihood of errors, which costs time, money and resources. 
  • Unpredictability: AI technologies are still in their infancy. We've barely scratched the surface regarding the technology's potential, so it's difficult to foresee how dangerous or unpredictable it may be in the future.
  • Lacks Human Touch and Empathy: Although artificial intelligence has come a long way, it still has a long road ahead regarding replicating human touch. Demonstrating empathy and emotional intelligence is paramount in more delicate customer interactions, as doing so will make the customer feel valued and appreciated.
  • Limited Understanding of Context: AI can generate outcomes based on the prompts fed into its algorithm. However, machines, as of yet, will struggle to comprehend anything beyond what it's been programmed to do. Therefore, when met with more challenging issues such as customer frustration or grievance – the technology will find itself out of its depth.
  • Fewer Customer Interactions: There are always two sides to a coin. Leveraging AI technology in your customer experience will save your human workers time and energy, which they can reallocate towards more complex tasks. On the other hand, more AI involvement will inevitably mean fewer human-to-human interactions between your business and customers.
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What Does the Future of Customer Experience look like?

The future of the customer experience is likely to be much more AI-centric. However, the value of the human touch and human-to-human interaction cannot be understated or ignored. Replacing employees with chatbots and machines in the customer experience can work in some instances, although at Netitude, we would recommend a more nuanced approach. 

Humans and AI can work together effectively, and best practice would entail getting both to collaborate and coexist efficiently. It's about identifying the strengths of both (the 24/7 availability of AI and the empathy that humans can provide) and combining them to negate the weaknesses of each (lack of empathy for AI, cost of a 24/7 human operator). AI's transformative impact on business and the customer experience is evident. Businesses, however, need to be conscious of the associated challenges and pitfalls that can accompany AI. 

Finding the right balance between human and machine involvement in the customer experience is the best way to ensure that your customer's needs are met at every touch point along their journey. At Netitude, we provide a Readiness Audit to highlight any deficiencies, opportunities or vulnerabilities you need to know about before proceeding to integrate new technologies.

If you'd like to explore the potential benefits and possibilities of a Readiness Audit for your business, please don't hesitate to contact our technology experts if you'd like to find out if your company is ready to take on AI! 

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