The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Customer Experiences

It’s 2020, and most will admit we aren’t where some scientists and experts thought we would be when it comes to flying cars, teleportation, time travel, and other futuristic concepts. But the technology and computer capabilities we have today are light-years ahead of where we were even 20 years ago.

Yet many of us are still weary of some of the most recent advancements – and this includes Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Artificial Intelligence refers to computers or other machines developing the intelligence and capabilities of human cognition. Examples of this include speech recognition, problem-solving, learning, and planning1.

It’s basically creating neural networks in machines, linked like a human brain is wired, allowing machines to make connections similar to how humans function and think.

AI has many useful functions, and many of the things you use in everyday life incorporate AI in some way.

Ever asked Alexa for a recipe or song name? She’s AI. How about Siri? Have you looked up directions on your phone recently to get somewhere, using something like Google Maps? The app incorporates AI to provide an estimated commute time based on the speed of traffic and number of cars on the route.

Other examples include ride sharing apps, mobile deposits, and even things as simple as your Spam Filter in your email program.

So as CX Professionals dedicated to improving the customer experience, how we can make AI work for us?

It’s safe to assume AI is here to stay, in such a technologically advancing day and age. That being said, how can we embrace its capabilities to drive positive customer experience outcomes, and utilize it to make our jobs easier while still helping us drive retention, positive reviews, and increased revenue?

Here are 5 ways AI can help you get more and achieve greater success with your customer experience program:

1. Reduce the Number of Surveys Sent to Your Customers

Customers are burnt out from the number of surveys they receive. Think about it – throughout a normal day, how many businesses do you interact with in some way? If I’m being honest, I can come up with at least three on a regular basis – breakfast, lunch, and a stop on the way home to grab something from Walgreens or a similar store.

If every one of those locations sent me a survey after each of my experiences there, I’d get at least 21 surveys a week. That may be a bit extreme, and if I am frequenting the same location multiple times, it’s likely they will have a process to de-duplicate my name in some way, but you get the idea.

AI solutions help solve for this burnout by allowing organizations to use data from past customers and surveys to identify patterns and trends. This is true not only of the customers who have already completed surveys, but also those who have yet to complete a survey – and even those individuals who are not yet customers.

Using this AI capability, you can more fully understand the customer experience, and where it might go wrong, without needing to send more surveys. You don’t have to ask customers if they had a good or bad experience – you can make an educated guess based on the experiences of others. You can then use this knowledge to inform action plans.

2. Decrease Customer Churn

Similar to the previous point, AI can help you reduce customer churn. AI can use all survey data available to identify common characteristics and experiences that cause you to lose customers.

You can detect patterns in an automated, scalable way to pinpoint at-risk customers.

With this information, you can then take proactive action to alleviate any concerns and improve the customer experience in a specific moment, allowing you a better chance to retain the customer’s business.

The result: reduced customer churn and increased revenue.

3. Gather More Abundant and Informative Data

Responses to surveys are just one way customers let you know what they think of their experiences with your brand. Often, customers also turn to other methods for sharing their thoughts, including social media.

Think about how many times you’ve been scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, or another social media platform and seen someone posting about their experience with a certain airline, restaurant, or store. Beyond these more “passive” reviews, think about how many reviews are available on Google, Yelp, and other sites specifically created for reviews.

AI allows your organization the opportunity to look at all of this non-survey data, what we call “unstructured data,” and incorporate it alongside results from your survey. By doing so, you get a more comprehensive picture of how customers truly feel about the experiences you provide.

Beyond analyzing unstructured data, AI can help you get more from the surveys themselves. AI tools can be used to probe customers to provide more insight or information about their experiences. Often, when faced with an open-response question, respondents tend to provide short comments lacking in detail or, worse, no comments at all.

AI probe technology allows your customer experience platform to “nudge” the respondent to say a little more about a topic with customizable prompts based on number of words, content, and other factors.

Some of this technology can also dynamically recognize key content, generating alternative questions to encourage richer feedback. It can automatically probe customers on various aspects of their response during a digital survey experience – much like a real human interviewer would probe and dig deeper. AI technology like this has proven to deliver both a higher volume of feedback and more detail.

As CX professionals, we know that any additional text-based feedback directly from customers is highly valuable in the customer experience improvement process. This is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

4. Make Sense of Complicated, Overwhelming Data

With the amount of data people get from standard customer experience surveys, it often feels overwhelming. AI can help you make sense of the data.

Data-mining algorithms can analyze patterns in data sets and highlight areas that can help improve key metrics – all within seconds.

Analysis that manually would take thousands of hours can be done with just a click of a button, resulting in high-value insights often hidden in experience data.

AI can spit out detailed information about how customers tend to react to certain situations and experiences, identifying patterns that you may never have been aware of if done manually. It helps you structure the data, so it makes sense and is more actionable.

As a result, you can do more with the data you gather.

5. Improving Experiences at Scale:

When people think of AI, what comes to mind may be one of those Chat Bots or other electronic assistants/communication tools on websites.

Think about when you visit a site, and something pops up saying “How can we help you?” – that’s typically an AI-enabled technology. Virtual assistant technology and experience-based chat bots can be helpful in understanding customer experiences in the moment and taking action to mediate issues proactively.

Additionally, AI technologies like these can help you collect survey data from consumers in the environments where they live and work. These bots can pop up to ask how things are going and provide suggestions or tips to help alleviate any concerns. They can point people in the right direction and get them the information they need without ever interacting with people.

The benefit for organizations is that you can reduce the number of individuals assisting with minor questions or requests for information, and customers get information faster, more often than not resulting in better experiences.

Artificial Intelligence is a very broad term, and to many it may be a scary and overwhelming concept. However, when understood and utilized effectively, it’s actually a very useful tool in helping drive better experience outcomes.

As you are considering how to build out your patient experience program and get more from your data, as well as what next steps to take in order to improve your efforts, consider asking how the topics discussed here could be incorporated into your program.

It will save you time and effort in the long run, and your customers will thank you.