AI: The Ace Up the Sleeve for Businesses Looking to Improve Customer Experience

In today’s day and age, consumers are cutthroat. As they grow savvier, and with so many options available to get the goods and services they want, businesses throughout all industries are having to beef up their “customer-first” strategies lest they face the wrath of a scorned customer.

According to research from Search Engine Land, 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Fool them once, shame on you; fool them twice and prepare for the barrage of backlash on everything from Twitter DMs to Yelp reviews.

Great customer service is the cornerstone of any successful business. Still, as technology continues to evolve at such a rapid pace, the same chronic customer experience issues persist. Technology has revolutionized many business operations, but many companies have been slow on the uptake when it comes to adapting these innovations to improve customer experience. Which is crazy, considering artificial intelligence (AI) is practically begging to be used for this very purpose.

Businesses Want AI in Their Hands 

AI isn’t just some nebulous “future” technology – it’s the brain behind smart customer experience. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Sutherland and Kelton, 78% of businesses believe AI is crucial to customer experience, while 71% see benefits to using AI to handle customer service issues. Nearly two-thirds of businesses (64%) agreed that AI could greatly improve one area of customer experience: shorter wait times by removing human interaction.

Consumers, while less friendly toward AI, can still envision the potential benefits of businesses utilizing it. For example, 66% of those surveyed say they would interact with AI to resolve their customer service issues because it would allow them to do so at any time of day. In this case, both parties agree – AI is a crucial tool that can modernize and improve customer experience.

Playing the AI Card

A number of businesses have already leveraged AI tools for the purpose of improving some aspect of their customer’s experience. BMW has used a tool called DigitalGenius, which employs AI and natural language processing (NLP), to help companies automate their customer support through email, mobile and social media. The luxury vehicle company set up their own software using this tool to power a live Q&A format on their website and social channels. Not only was BMW able to achieve an average response time of 1.2 seconds and a 99.5% accuracy rate from doing so, but this AI-based format succeeded in scheduling hundreds of test drives for potential buyers. 

Other tools like InMoment, a cloud-based customer experience platform, offer a comprehensive look at what customers view as important and what they’re actively talking about. Companies like Target and Nike have used this tool to pick the most critical issues among customers that deserve immediate attention and rectification. This is all done through an AI-based analysis of customer experience and feedback, allowing companies to be much more responsive to customer support issues. This in turn creates the sense that businesses can predict the ailments a customer might face, fostering a greater feeling of security and trust toward that business from consumers, ultimately leading to brand loyalty.

Education company Pearson uses an AI tool called Freshdesk to automate their workflows, making it possible to categorize, prioritize and assign incoming support tickets. This increased efficiency led to faster and more helpful customer response. Speaking of customer response times, Autodesk saw their customer response times increase by a whopping 99% after employing IBM’s Watson AI tool.

Contact centers in particular have seen great success in adopting AI to improve customer experience. Chatbots, like Taco Bell’s TacoBot which lets customers order food off of Slack, offer a customer experience more closely tailored to the actual consumer by providing features that would prove extremely cumbersome and expensive if executed by humans. AI-powered chatbots have also been able to reduce wait times, build unique customer relationships and offer 24/7 customer support (the main advantage consumers see from interacting with AI).

The Endgame of AI & Customer Experience

A war is coming for businesses, and that war is centered around customer experience. Research from Gartner suggests that 89% of businesses will compete mostly around customer experience in the coming years. With 9 out of 10 businesses gearing up for this battle, it’s clear that AI is the weapon of choice for this impending war. So far, around 38% of businesses have already taken the AI plunge. That number is expected to increase by 62% next year alone.

The cards don’t lie – for businesses to have a fighting chance when it comes to modernizing customer experience while retaining and growing their customer base, AI forms a winning hand.

Still curious about how AI and customer experience tie together? Be sure to check back on the Sutherland blog and follow our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) for more insights.