Companies are always looking for an edge with their customer experience (CX) capabilities. After all, a harmonious CX is an absolute necessity to ensure that brand messaging and consumer engagement remains uniform across multiple touchpoints and channels.
Despite the growing importance of CX—Dimension Data's 2017 Global Customer Experience Benchmark Report found that more than 80 percent of companies identified CX as a key differentiator—companies are not always successfully executing their CX initiatives. According to the same study, only 13 percent of businesses would give their current CX delivery capabilities a 9 out of 10 rating or above.
Artificial intelligence and natural language processing have emerged as methods to enhance CX, but implementing these solutions is not as simple as turning on a light switch. Any AI- or NLP-focused CX projects must be strategic and meticulously planned out to guarantee success.
"AI and NLP can help make digital interactions more targeted."
What can AI, NLP do for your (human) customer experience?
It may sound counterintuitive to turn to machines and algorithms for help engaging with customers, but AI and NLP present an opportunity to make digital interactions more targeted. One of the clearest examples of this is the rise of chatbots and web-based customer service chat windows. AI and NLP can analyze a customer's question or comment, break it down into individual components and divine the individual's intent. The AI program can then make suggestions based on the interaction, existing response templates and other available customer data. This leads to a seamless interaction between man and machine that achieves the same, if not better, results as a human support rep sitting in front of a computer screen.
There are opportunities to take these capabilities even further. One of the more well-known examples of AI-based CX in action is 1-800-Flowers.com's digital concierge service. The online retailer created a virtual concierge platform that allows customers to order flower arrangements directly through Facebook Messenger. Using AI and NLP, the concierge picks up on user preferences, probes for more details and considers numerous variables such as the recipient's relation to the customer and the occasion in question. It is then able to make specific recommendations that will meet the customer's needs, depending on the situation. The platform ultimately achieves two of the primary goals of modern customer experience strategies: allowing consumers to use whatever channels they prefer and providing more targeted interactions between the brand and customer.
Keep it strategic
While the possibilities for better CX through AI and NLP are seemingly endless, it's important that adopters take things slow at first. Business goals must be crystal-clear, and project leaders will need to be able to measure tangible results to determine what's working, what's not and what is the best way forward.
This all starts by laying out firm project goals and establishing metrics to measure success. AI is, after all, a fairly new component of CX, and company leaders will need to see clear-cut business cases before getting onboard. With so many potential artificial intelligence applications, businesses may run the risk of trying to do too many projects at once or launching CX projects that lack a defined endgame. By narrowing your focus and determining at the outset precisely what your organization hopes to achieve with an AI-based CX project, you can establish measurable KPIs and objectives. This will make it easier to conclude if your AI initiative achieves a better overall level of CX than your existing processes and systems.
Your organization also needs to be willing to implement changes to CX processes across all touch points, depending on the results of these initial trials. It may feel unnatural to some stakeholders to allow AI to drive any aspect of CX. That is why organizational buy-in and C-level support is so critical. Fostering the cultural shift required to completely embrace AI and NLP starts from the very top, and leaders' seal of approval can effectively remove many of the barriers to project success.
Having an experienced guide on this journey will further improve the effectiveness of your AI-based CX efforts. Contact Clarity Insights today to find out how we can help you get your next CX project off the ground.
Written by Clarity Insights
Clarity Insights is the largest consulting company in the US that focuses exclusively on data strategy, engineering, science and visualization.