When analysing the recent evolution of customer experience (CX), one factor has played a bigger role than any other – technology. Where a friendly smile was once the hallmark of quality customer service, today’s CX leaders are the people developing, deploying and demanding cutting-edge tools and solutions that improve efficiencies, increase productivity and empower consumers through omnichannel engagement.
The rise of the internet in the 1990s allowed customers to engage with brands at any time of the day. Automatic call distributors (ACD) ensured incoming calls were received and distributed to available agents faster than ever. Chatbots stepped up to provide the 24/7 customer service that humans could not provide.
It has been an incredible journey and we have now arrived at the point where artificial intelligence (AI) is not so much improving CX as underpinning it.
Recent years have seen a significant rise in consumers demanding better, more convenient and personalised service, and brands are fortunate it has coincided with an increase in cutting-edge CX tools that incorporate AI. From interactive voice response (IVR) and automatic speech recognition (ASR) to virtual agents and intelligent call routing (ICR), artificial intelligence is powering a range of technologies to create more powerful customer experiences and, in turn, boost profitability.
The power of conversational AI
Conversational AI is the synthetic brain power that makes machines capable of understanding, processing and responding to human language. It primarily works due to two functions – machine learning and natural language processing (NLP).
The former allows technologies such as virtual assistants and chatbots to collect information from their own interactions and improve the more they are used. Meanwhile, NLP enables software to understand spoken (or written) words and phrases and has evolved to the stage where it can process language to determine a caller’s true intention and sentiment and respond accordingly.
Using AI for customer service
The global pandemic has created a world where the adoption of tools like AI and automation are no longer luxuries but necessities. One 2022 study of more than 300 contact centre executives across North America revealed 75% experienced call volume increase on all channels during the past year, with one in five reporting volume spikes of more than 50% compared to the previous year1. AI adoption is the ideal solution to meet such demand and it is not surprising to learn that nearly 70% of business leaders believe they need an AI strategy to keep pace with today’s competitive environment1.
Conversational AI for customer experience is clearly here to stay and many organisations are already reaping the rewards of investing in the technology. A 2022 study of more than 1,000 executives found almost three out of four businesses have already made AI investments but the startling fact was an incredible 89% reported the deployment had been a success, sometimes in multiple areas2. The combination of human agents and AI-enabled tools such as IVR and ASR are clearly creating more efficient and productive contact centres while providing the empathetic and personalised customer service that consumers demand.
The modern consumer has also evolved to become an active participant in their interactions with brands. Rather than patiently waiting to be served by live agents, they are increasingly keen to help themselves and AI-enabled technologies like virtual agents and chatbots are allowing them to self-serve across various channels. Web and mobile self-service overtook all other service channels in 20151 and natural language processing is helping create more meaningful and productive customer experiences and giving live agents more time to deal with urgent and more complex enquiries.
With 80% of customers more likely to buy from brands that deliver a personalised experience, delivering exceptional CX has never been more important and investing in conservational AI is a crucial part of ensuring that happens both now and long into the future.
Discover how implementing a dynamic IVR system in your contact centre will improve CX management processes by presenting customers with an intelligent, intuitive and reactive point of contact.