Artificial Intelligence For Customer Engagement

By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their interactions with an organisation without a human.
Gartner

By 2025, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) will account for 95% of all customer interactions with your organisation.
Servion

These two predictions by Gartner and Servion give a very clear indication as to where customer engagement is heading, especially at a time when competing purely on products and pricing in a competitive global market is tough.

The advancement in AI offers organisations who embrace it a competitive edge that can retain customers in a way never seen before. As Shashi Nirale, SVP&GP EMEA at Servion Global Solutions notes:

Businesses are realising that keeping customers is more profitable than acquiring new ones. If customers aren’t satisfied, the business can suffer a deathly blow to its bottom line.

Want a glimpse of the future? Enter augmented reality.

Augmented Reality

Rudy Abitbol, from Forbes Councils, details the experience of using augmented reality to assist electrical contracts working with Lumen (part of Sonepar), a leading distributor of electrical material.

Contractors were becoming increasingly frustrated that the discovery of parts installed many years previously were causing roadblocks in time and effort attempting to source a replacement or equivalent through traditional customer service channels.

In this case, the engineers would normally manually trawl through thousands of product and service identification code known as Stock Keeping Product (SKU), creating a knock-on effect that the rest of the workforce now had to down tools and wait for the part and fix.

This is where visual search comes in. With a smartphone and deep learning technologies offered by companies such as Clarifai, Google, and Fashwell, customers can take pictures of the products they’re searching for and then e-commerce sites interpret the images and make product recommendations.

Rudy Abitbol, from Forbes Councils

Levelling Up The Chatbots

Whilst augmented reality and other advanced forms of AI provide hugely exciting opportunities for customer service, chatbots too will go beyond their basic reply and response approach. We’re already through the first iteration of AI and its simplistic chat-bot style approach. Did you notice?

Level one chatbots can pick the low hanging fruit and reduce the strain of repetitive questions, all hugely important to your customer service toolkit. This type of “cause and effect” chatbot is indeed a great addition to the customer service toolkit (something you should be looking at as a bare minimum) and be programmed to provide a number of canned replies to a range of common questions 24/7.

Customers are evolving too and are often able to ‘spot the bot’. Whilst this is acceptable for the basics, more complex phrasing of questions and specialist advice often goes beyond the capabilities of the tool. You yourself may have experienced this sort of exchange with a chatbot:

  • Ask a question
  • Given answer
  • Asked, “Did this answer your question?”
  • Click “Yes” – fantastic, job done.

However…

  • Click “No” (usually because the request is more complicated)
  • Rerouted back into the main customer service channels
  • Frustrated customer

To understand how chatbots are evolving it’s important to consider the wider picture. Traditional customer service channels often work in isolation, keeping knowledge in silos and causing a lack of true understanding of the customer journey.

Customers will increasingly want something more advanced in the future as the simple question and response mechanism evolves into something smarter.

Time to level up.

Omnichannel End-To-End Journey

The solution is in how these emerging technologies work together to create a seamless multi-touchpoint experience for the customer. Whether it’s in the form of the chatbot, augmented reality or any other form of AI the technology is “listening” to every channel and every interaction in real time.

Every second brings new insight and understanding of what your customers need, what they’re asking for and what they’re interested in. The data from this can be used to redefine how you interact and engage with your audience to provide an intelligent, convenient and informed customer experience at any point along the customer journey

This will result in re-imagined customer experiences and end-to-end customer journeys that are integrated and more personal so that they feel more natural to customers.

Recommending and Personalisation

As AI helps you understand each and every one of your customers personally, it can also help you position new products and services that are uniquely appealing to them based on their interactions.

Rather than the more traditional experience of serving up an oversimplified and, at times, an overwhelming selection of options, advanced tech can take the wealth of information it has on the customer and present compelling information or calls-to-action in the most suitable and desirable way.

Everything from a gentle nudge to an all-singing, all-dancing touchpoint is possible based on the knowledge and data in your hand.

And the best bit? As customers engage with the personalised outreach generated from AI, those actions are already being captured and used by the technology for an even more personal experience, next time.

Customer service experience will only get better and better.