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Improving Customer Engagement with Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on everyone’s lips and has created a lot of buzz recently. As a customer or business owner are you ready to embrace it? AI technology doesn’t come without its challenges. Below you will find a few things to think about when incorporating AI into your customer engagement system!

author: Anita Ajdinian

.10 November 2017

Not so long ago, in the first half of the 20th century to be exact, we met for the very first time the ‘heartless’ Tin Man from the great musical Wizard of Oz. Even though this was fantasy, his character led to a cascade of interest and ideas on the concept of artificial intelligence. Later, in 1950 the great polymath Alan Turing shared his scientific findings about “thinking machines” and wrote a paper called Computing Machinery and Intelligence where he published insights on how to build intelligent machines and the way to test their intelligence. A quick jump to 2017, and it looks like every industry is using new technologies, especially AI, for their customer engagement process.

Artificial intelligence is one of the most, if not only, powerful technologies nowadays. Wherever we go, smart solutions surround us. We’re using software that solves our problems and transforms data into valuable information. When we use AI effectively, chatbots or predictive analytics solutions help us to work faster. We can easily improve our customer’s loyalty and their satisfaction. But it’s not all a bed of roses. Challenges and problems occur. Many companies struggle to understand the concept of AI and how it should work to bring profit instead of loss. Below you will find a few tips on how to demystify the mystery of artificial intelligence and make strategic use of it!

Give them something

First of all, let’s admit that most people are either skeptical or afraid of AI. How do we know this? Pegasystems, one of the leading software providers for customer engagement and operational excellence, conducted a survey to show “What Consumers Really Think About AI”. They discovered that 72% of interviewees are afraid to use AI. But interestingly, 68% of interviewees want more AI in their life – provided it is something that will make their life easier. These data show that people’s awareness nowadays is still limited and companies must include in their planning consumer education on how AI can be a big advantage for them. AI will help you, for example, with faster customer service, more relevant messaging from your favourite brand and of course better product offers.

The Role of AI in Customer Engagement

Transparency is the key in customer engagement

Would you fully trust somebody if you had any doubts, even the smallest ones? I don’t think so. That’s why this factor might be the most important one. Your first base should be to gain consumers’ trust. Second base should come naturally (of course, along with the development process) with real engagement. How? Companies should make clear where they store their consumers’ data and how or why they use it. Of course, don’t forget about privacy and data protection. This matter is essential if you want to gain trust. Companies should be clear with the customer about their aims in AI usage to avoid overselling themselves and then underdelivering. You can tell them what to expect, or what not to expect…if you’re creating a not too complicated bot be sure that customers don’t think it will be the next Alexa or Gebo!

Why was I so afraid of AI?

Most employees are afraid of losing their jobs because of AI solutions. They say the company won’t need them anymore if the chatbot assumes their responsibilities. There’s no doubt that AI is already transforming the world of work everywhere. But let’s be honest. Robots will only take on a narrow range of tasks in the upcoming decades. As a company, you have to disseminate knowledge among your employees about how they can benefit from artificial intelligence and so allay all their fears.

How?

If we talk about customer service representatives, chatbots won’t focus on mundane tasks. Instead, they will work on high value activities. For example a telesales operative can use AI to prepare a better proposal for a renewed contract so the company can retain a client. Of course, employees can do this on their own, but why? If someone or something could help us to get it done faster why not make use of that help! Nevertheless, there’re activities where human interaction is essential, like with an insurance provider – personalized advice is must have. The better employees understand the advantages of AI, the better a company will be able to adapt AI solutions and exploit the potential company offers.

Knock knock, who’s there?

Yet, even as AI takes over the world, real humans are a critical part of the customer experience process. The Pegasystems survey mentioned above about consumer engagement reveals that more than 64% of interviewees that indentify with a specific brand or company would choose in-person interaction while shopping  rather than a virtual assistant. So, you think you have to choose? Don’t. You can have them both. Whenever a chatbot is not able to sufficiently fulfil a customer’s requirements or needs, an employee could take over the conversation and continue it. That’s how most big companies work nowadays.

It’s extremely important to maintain the right balance while driving your customer engagement. I would like to quote Paul Greenberg, who said: “Customer Experience Management (CXM) is a business science that has the purpose of determining the strategy and programs that can make the customer feel good enough about the company to want to continue to do business with the company.” If we rush into robots and machinery, we might lose the humanity which creates emotional engagement with our customers. On the other hand, without AI we might fall behind in the intensifying  world – wide race for customer engagement. We have to find a way to link both AI and humanity in order to create the best possible system.

Anita Ajdinian

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