How using AI can give your customer experience strategy the edge

22 Feb 2019

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Raman Venkatraman of Tata Consultancy Services discusses how AI can give your customer experience a major boost.

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Over the past few decades, consumer expectations have surged, and as a result have become increasingly important. Today, consumer is king – and companies are shifting their business models to meet the growing needs and wants of the consumers they serve.

The demands that consumers have, while they are growing, have remained quite simplistic. 70pc of consumers value speed, convenience and friendly service as part of what they perceive to be a positive shopping experience.

And, even though these services seem like a ‘no-brainer’ when it comes to creating positive customer experiences, the repercussions of not meeting these standards are severe.

A whopping 32pc of consumers will take their business to competitors after only one bad experience – and these negative experiences appear to be quite common. More than half (54pc) of US consumers believe that customer experience (CX) needs to be improved across the board.

With customers’ demands growing at such a rapid rate, and with those demands holding priority over all else, businesses are looking for new and innovative ways to provide exceptional customer experiences that are second to none.

With that effort comes the investment in emerging technology, to deliver unique interactions with consumers both in-store and out, as well as during and after purchases.

What may be the most valuable tech tool for businesses looking to get a leg up on their competitors in this department? The use of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is the next big CX tool

The global value of AI technology for businesses was projected to increase by 70pc year over year from 2017, reaching $1.2trn in 2018, according to Gartner. Even more astounding is how that number is expected to increase to $3.9trn by 2022.

The use cases for AI are limitless, but CX investments appear to hold the most potential for the disruptive technology. By 2020, 85pc of all interactions between customers and businesses will be managed without the need for a human. This would not at all be possible without AI. To illustrate this, it’s expected that 95pc of customer interactions will be supported by AI technology by 2025.

The many use cases for AI in CX

AI already has disrupted, and will continue to disrupt, many aspects of the customer journey – during and after purchase. One of the most common use cases for AI today is to provide customer assistance online. CX is redefined by the integration of conversational systems, AI and analytics.

The integration of all the three provides a real-time personalised experience for consumers. AI provides the intelligence and the decision-making capability to bring relevance in real time to consumers. Additionally, consumers truly value these interactions, as nearly 70pc of consumers would prefer to interact with a chatbot for quicker interactions with brands.

AI can help bolster CX capabilities in a passive way as well. For industrial equipment manufacturers who may have adopted a servitisation-focused model of operations – where equipment is sold as a service, rather than a ‘one and done’ interaction with customers – AI can be used to make sure that post-sale services are delivered seamlessly and without downtime.

AI-driven tools can help predict when and how a part will fail – communicating this information back to the manufacturer and initiating the manufacture, assembly and shipment of needed parts to the customer automatically – without any human interaction needed on the back-end. By using AI technology to optimise all aspects of the supply chain (including after-sales services), CX is optimised without the lift of a finger.

What can companies do?

Companies that are looking to invest in new technologies, specifically AI, to help improve their CX capabilities should first take the necessary steps to understand exactly what needs work. Innovating for innovation’s sake could end up doing more harm than good. If companies strategically implement AI to help improve in areas of need, the return on investment will be optimal – and the customer base will be more inclined to respond positively.

Companies who are new to such innovation should learn from others within and beyond the industries in which they operate. There is no shame in taking notes from other businesses’ success, and finding ways to pull inspiration to help guide one’s own transformational journey.

What’s most important is to understand what the consumer wants. These experiences are delivered primarily with the end user in mind, so companies that are taking the leap should fully understand what their current and prospective customers want and need, and shape any innovation around those specific things.

AI is paving the way toward the era of business 4.0, and a key consideration for those taking the transformational journey towards a digital future is the innovation of customer interaction and the overall consumer experience. Consumer is king, and that fact will only become more integral to business success going forward.

By Raman Venkatraman 

Raman Venkatraman has been with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for more than 20 years and held multiple leadership roles in the last 15 years. He currently serves as vice-president and global head of alliances and technology at TCS. His extensive experience spans geographies, having successfully advised large global corporations in smart sourcing, which has resulted in significant savings to these companies.