This CX Mini Masterclass provides an overview of artificial intelligence and its emerging role in CX management. Show host and customer experience expert, Julia Ahlfeldt, shares some of the highlights from her 2019 keynotes talks on the topic of AI and customer experience, including the history of this technology and the 3 main applications in CX. If you’re looking for a practical overview of a not-so practical topic and some food for thought about how AI can help your team’s customer journey improvement efforts, then this episode is for you.
A little background on AI
Regular listeners of the show will know that I’m a huge fan of providing basic definitions. In the business world, we bat around a lot of buzz words, often people establish a basic intuitive knowledge of the meaning through context, but it never hurts to provide a clear, concise definition.
Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a machine to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. This includes things like the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.
The field of AI research started at Dartmouth College in the US during the mid-1950s, as an intrepid group of researchers developed computer programs that could solve algebra word problems and learn to play checkers. AI technology has evolved leaps and bound since the 1950s, and when you add in the great sea of consumer data that most companies have – courtesy of digital touch points and eCommerce, you create an ideal environment for AI to augment customer experience.
The symbiosis of AI and customer experience
AI has many applications in the field of CX. If we have the power to process lots of information about our customers, it’s not a huge leap to understand that there are many powerful applications for this technology when it comes to improving customer journeys and how experiences are managed.
Within the current AI technology, I see 3 distinct categories of AI application for CX.
- Personalized experiences – To provide a personalized experience, we have to understand the user. AI provides the opportunity for organizations to do this on a scale that was previously unimaginable. Ecommerce “recommended products” was one of the first ways that we saw AI applied to the mass customization of experiences, but personalization has evolved beyond this. Brands like Disney and Netflix are using customer data to create experiences that are tailored for the wants and needs of their customers. Not all personalized interactions are created equal, however. The goal with personalized experiences is for a brand to provide relevant information at the right time through the right channel…without becoming “creepy”.
- Service support – Chatbots are an obvious application of AI in CX. As more and more consumers are adopting digital self-solution options, it makes perfect sense to offer an automated first line of defense that can quickly answer simple issues. When things become more complex and human intervention is required, internal chatbots can be used to support the humans who are delivering cusotmer experience. Organizations such as South Africa’s media giant, Multichoice, are using in-house chatbots to help their agents help customers. When we think about AI, we should remember to think about applications that the customer sees, as well as those that happen beyond the line of customer visibility. And if you’d like to learn more about that, check out episode 59 in service blueprinting.
- Augment and virtual reality – Special guest, Jacques Oberholzer and I spoke about this in episode 61, but AR/VR is definitely an exciting space. By way of just one example, American beauty retailer, Sephora has leveraged this technology to augment the way it helps customers explore and experiment with its products. Through its Virtual Artist app, Sephora enables customers to virtually “try on” different makeup products with augmented reality. Only time will tell, but AR/VR has a lot of exciting potential in the world of CX.
Tech rule of thumb
If you are thinking about how AI can help your organization’s customer experience, there’s a lot to get excited about. Just remembers that the journey should lead the tech, not the other way around. An idea might sounds like a great idea on paper – or in in a vendors pitch presentation, but the important test is if it adds value to the customer journey.
Want to keep learning about CX?
If you’d like to checkout more of these CX Mini Masterclasses or listen to my longer format CX expert interviews, check out the full listing of episodes for this CX podcast.
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Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business achieve its CX goals, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services (including B2B CX strategy) or get in touch via email.