Today’s consumers have become accustomed to having instant gratification at their fingertips and businesses don’t always have the technology to facilitate the desired level of service. Ryan Lester, the director of customer engagement technologies at LogMeIn examines the gap between customer expectations and the customer experience many businesses provide, how AI is shaping the new customer experience landscape and how business can gain from using AI to humanise the customer experience.
Times are changing. We now live in a world of instant gratification where most people are not willing to wait for what they want. Long gone are the days when customers had no choice but to call a contact centre and wait on hold for service and support. Today’s customer wants both choice and flexibility when it comes to connecting with the companies they do business with. Phone calls and even more “modern” channels like email aren’t cutting it anymore. Accessibility through mobile apps, social networks, live chat, are all quickly becoming basic requirements for customers and there isn’t much margin for error. Recent research from Ovum revealed that 82 per cent of consumers have stopped doing business with a brand following a bad experience. But despite this reality, many businesses still struggle to meet customer expectations.
This gap between customer expectations and the customer experience many businesses provide boils down to prioritization and innovation. What worked for customers yesterday, no longer meets their needs today. This includes the tools and technologies used to power the customer experience. Most companies look at the customer relationship management systems (CRM) as the backbone of their customer experience. And while it was an early solution to managing customer data, it was essentially developed to capture data from a single point in time through single channel (phone) – and has not evolved to help agents provide the immediate and personalised service customers have come to expect.
New Expectations Breed Essential Innovation
As technology continues to evolve, customer expectations evolve alongside it. If one company can provide easy, seamless customer experience across a variety of engagement channels, customers then question why other companies aren’t following suit. For example, if a customer service rep at a technology company greets customers by their name, knows what products or services they have and can get right down to helping with the problem or inquiry – that customer will then ask themselves why their insurance company or bank can’t do the same. These questions leave customers open to competitive offers. So how can companies keep up with these new expectations? Emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) is helping companies in a variety of industries quickly scale customer service operations, help streamline internal processes.
The promise of AI is that it will help companies improve the quality of the customer experience they are able to deliver — without having to add new staff or overburdening their existing support teams. And it is delivering on that promise. First and foremost, AI is helping companies deliver consistent, always-on customer service. Simple, routine queries can be easily answered through a chatbot or other AI-powered self-service options ensuring whether a customer has a question early in the morning or the middle of the night, they may be able to get an answer quickly so they can move on with their day. In addition, during normal business hours these powerful self-service tools are helping customers avoid long queues and are opening agents up to spend more time with customers who have complex issues. In addition, AI-powered tools are also helping on the backend – both to help service teams do their job more efficiently by feeding customer information and recommendations to agents in real-time and to help the business pinpoint parts of the customer journey that are broken or can be optimized. AI is giving brands the opportunity to more quickly gather the vital background information they need to serve their customers better – resulting in higher customer satisfaction and long-term customer loyalty.
Using AI to Humanise the Customer Experience
Leveraging robots to offer a more human customer experience sounds counterintuitive, but AI is making it making it possible for companies to offer tailored, VIP-type experience for each and every customer. It’s not about taking away the human touch – it’s about arming support teams with what they need to provide customers with experience they want. AI allows customers who desire to self-serve the ability to do so, frees agents up to spend more time with the customers that need them and provides agents with vital customer information allowing them to provide a personalized, delightful experience from the get-go.
A lot has already been said about the potential threat of AI to the human workforce, but the real story is the benefits it brings to both the workforce and the customers. The experience is improved in every way imaginable and customers, regardless of their differences stand to gain immensely. With the current state of the market, businesses cannot afford to ignore AI but preparing for the inevitable doesn’t need to be painful. By starting to streamline the digital customer process now, organisations will be setting themselves up for continued success in the future.
By Ryan Lester
Director of customer engagement technologies