Images from the movies and popular culture might have you believing that machines are taking over the world. Cars carry on conversations with drivers or just drive themselves, robots are depicted as suitable dating partners, and that smartphone you keep on hand 24/7 probably recognizes your voice, face, and other biometrics. Contacting your utility company, buying groceries online, and ordering pizza delivery may not involve interacting with a human at all. In the world of business, Gartner estimates that by 2020, 85 percent of customer experience tasks will not involve a human.
However, while it’s true that many functions in society can be automated, there’s still no substitute for the human touch. Many people are fairly adept at determining whether they’re dealing with a human or a machine and show a strong preference for the former. For that reason alone, fully automated customer experience tools are frustrating for many consumers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a place.
When it comes to engaging your customers and crafting meaningful communications, you can draw on the best traits of human intelligence when combined with artificial intelligence to create a quality customer engagement experience. For example, you might use an AI tool to walk customers through very common tasks or questions. But when a complex problem emerges, and you have an exasperated client on your hands, you need a human to de-escalate the situation, share insights and find creative alternatives that preserve the relationship with the client.
How does AI Helps in Customer Engagement?
- Data management: Customer service is more data-driven than ever. Demographics, buying preferences, touch points, and many other factors contribute to a massive set of data that no one person can cross reference and analyze alone. Artificial intelligence excels in that arena, but it’s still impossible to map out every possible scenario of behavior where humans are concerned. Buying decisions and concepts like customer loyalty are purely emotional concepts. Pairing a robust set of data points with a human mind that can interpret the emotions of a customer and pivot accordingly to is a winning formula.
- Faster response times: Even if the response to the customer is delivered by a human, using AI tools in the background to generate responses and possible courses of action make your representatives more agile and efficient. No more “brief holds to research this matter” unless it’s a lengthy and complex problem. Simple and common questions can be handled in their entirety by machines faster and more accurately than your human agents. You can even configure the AI tools to lead customers down a particular path and divert them to a human representative under certain conditions.
- Always available: Artificial intelligence tools can work round the clock every day of the year, so even when your human staff is off, automated responses can help clients find basic information. Customers who are ready to buy can do so on the spot. When your employees return to the office, they can focus on the more complicated tasks rather than wading through piles of routine requests that can consume the day.
Why Does It Matter?
A 2013 Zendesk report found that:
- Survey respondents indicated that customer service was the primary factor in whether or not they trusted a vendor.
- A good customer service experience led 42 percent of B2C customers to buy more from that provider.
- A bad experience led 52 percent to stop buying from that vendor.
More than half of the companies surveyed by Gartner are using or will be using some form of artificial intelligence to improve customer experiences by 2020. If you’re ready to develop a plan for implementing artificial intelligence tools into your business processes, contact me today.