Consumer behavior has witnessed a whirlwind of changes in the past decade. Technological developments have enabled all industries to embrace digital transformation at scale. According to IDC, by 2023, digital transformation investment is expected to approach $7 trillion as companies build on existing strategies and investments, becoming digital-at-scale future enterprises.
The Customer Experience Officer has snatched away advertising budgets. And, rightly so. Customers no longer care about which celebrity is promoting the products. They demand the finest experience across all touchpoints – online and offline. Experts predict that by 2024, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
In order to align with the changing customer behavior, brands have shifted their focus from “what we want to sell” to “what the customer wants to buy”. Deeper segmentation and laser-sharp targeting – that’s been the mantra for every company.
Customers are giving more and more preference to brands that are constantly enhancing their Customer Experience strategy. Every company wants to win and retain more customers and here is where a top-notch Customer Experience strategy helps. According to research from PWC, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. Customer Experience (CX) will be the center focus as more and more brands embrace digital transformation.
What makes a Good Customer Experience?
Let’s start by understanding what CX means. The business engages with the customer across many different touchpoints. CX is the sum total of how the customer feels about your brand “while” and “after” interacting with you. As soon as he enters your ecosystem (online or offline), he starts to make his judgment. CX is not just restricted to existing customers but also extends to potential customers. Every interaction allows your brand an opportunity to build or ruin what the customer thinks about you. Remember, one bad experience can ruin 10 good experiences!
So what really contributes to a good CX? Here are a few points to consider:
Know your audience
This is the most important part while framing your CX strategy. It’s important for you to know who your customers are. From how they behave, what motivates them, what upsets them – you have to know it all. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Customer behavior is dynamic in nature. As a CX professional, you have to closely observe how customers are evolving and what your business can do to cater to their new needs. The marriage of data analytics and behavioral economics will help you uncover the CX strategy your business needs.
Build with empathy
With all the noise around AI, ML, NLU, NLP, Cloud, this element often gets overlooked. If the past decade was the technological revolution, the coming one will be a psychological revolution. Companies need to build technology that connects with customers. Most high-tech products will fail if they’re not built with empathy. To create a CX that truly stands out – you have to empathize with your customers. Talk to them in person, do social listening, create scalable customer feedback solutions, etc. Do anything to know what moves your customer, build technology on top of it and serve it back to the customer.
Going above and beyond
To create delightful customer experiences, one has to think beyond what is already being done. Every stage of the buying process needs to be constantly re-evaluated and elevated, if necessary. Taking that one extra step that goes beyond customer’s expectations will ensure enhanced CX and customer loyalty.
Gone are the days when one geography was treated as a single market. The advancement of technology has allowed businesses to create solutions that talk to each customer in their preferred manner of communication. The scope of building a relationship with customers has never been more. Customer Experience elevates when brands talk to customers in a more personalized way. Brands need to humanize their communication and make customers feel that they’re conversing with just another human being.
The Evolving Role of AL and ML in CX Strategy
In the past year, customers have welcomed digital businesses with open arms and have become more tech-savvy. As this trend continues to grow, companies will have to focus on redefining what CX means to them.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet Inc. and Google was quoted saying that AI will be a more profound change than fire and electricity. Well, we can only wait to see if this is true. What is true is that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have significantly changed how businesses imagined CX.
AI and ML have allowed businesses to enhance systems and processes, provide rich customer insight, build better products, help marketeers with personalized targeting. All of which are extremely important for a well-integrated CX strategy. IDC states that at least 90% of new enterprise apps will insert AI technology into their processes and products by 2025.
The growth in these two areas of technology has given birth to many different business solutions. Every industry is leveraging AI in some shape or form. Global tech giants are spending a huge amount on researching and developing this technology which is set to reimagine how businesses looked at CX.
One of the many solutions powered by AI and ML is Conversational AI. Conversational AI is the use of chatbots and voice bots to create conversations with customers on different channels of communication. According to Forbes, 70% of millennials report positive chatbot experiences.
One thing to notice is that it is not easy to provide a CX that meets every customer’s expectations. The term “Customer Experience” is relatively new. Companies are facing different challenges when it comes to creating a memorable experience for their customers. Hiring and training support staff shoots up the customer support costs. To handle support queries at scale, companies need to hire thousands of agents who can work round the clock to assist customers with their issues. Agents when overworked do not provide the desired support. They are unsatisfied with their job and do not take an active interest in solving customer’s queries. This is a recipe for a bad CX.
Another challenge faced by CX professionals is providing the right buying assistance to your customer. Sales agents are often the reason why a visitor did not turn to a customer. A sales agent is often as clueless about the product as the customer, they talk so much that they forget to ask the right questions, and they lack genuine social empathy. After all the efforts that went into bringing a prospective customer to your ecosystem, the last step ruins it all.
This is where Conversational AI steps in.
How Conversational AI helps Improve Customer Experience
Businesses across different verticals have adopted Conversational AI. CXOs are responsible for providing a best-in-class experience to customers and oversee the entire customer lifecycle. Let’s look at how Conversational AI adds value to a CXO:
Conversational AI solutions have a number of use cases. One of the most common use cases is handling Customer Support queries. Unlike standard AI assistants, a chatbot can resolve queries faster, more efficiently, be available 24*7 and talk to your customers in their preferred language of communication. A chatbot that is built to handle queries at scale will always lead to cost savings.
Employee & Customer Engagement:
Employees are the biggest asset of every company. Happy employees = Satisfied customers. Conversational AI solutions can streamline many HR processes and enhance employee engagement. This helps boost employee satisfaction and in turn affects CX positively.
Apart from handling customer support queries, a sophisticated Conversational AI solution can also assist in customer engagement programs. This helps you create a meaningful relationship with your customers that goes beyond a transaction.
Remember the last you walked into a retail outlet and there was no one to assist you? Or you spent hours looking for a product online but couldn’t find adequate information? All these are components of a bad CX. Getting people to your business’s ecosystem is hard and not turning visitors into customers is unhealthy for your business growth.
Conversational AI has plentiful use-cases and they differ as per different industries. The growth in AI, ML, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) has enabled chatbots to create use-cases that can be utilized by every industry. Let’s dive into three use-cases that are industry agnostic and can be deployed across all businesses.
The customer service chatbot can be deployed across different channels, hence providing brands an opportunity to create an omnichannel CX. AI-powered chatbots are capable of delivering service 24/7 which means that there’s always someone (not really) to answer customer’s questions anytime! This is significantly cheaper than having live agents with rotational shifts.
If the customer support query is complex or beyond the scope of the chatbot, there is a seamless process to hand off the query to a live agent based on their skill sets and current workload. This also helps the customer support agents to focus on customers which require a detailed solution for their difficult problems. This is where the magic happens! The marriage of AI and traditional customer service is the way forward.
Conversational Commerce has revolutionized eCommerce. Over the years, brands have realized the true potential of messaging platforms. Conversational AI is being leveraged by some of the largest brands to provide shopping assistance to customers. This is indeed a great opportunity to reduce costs incurred for hiring sales agents and training them. A robust conversational commerce tool is capable of providing superior customer service than a sales agent.
You can truly understand user requirements and provide expert-like guidance to nudge visitors ahead in the buyer’s journey. An intent-based recommendation engine helps you automatically match user requirements with your product catalog, descriptions, customer reviews, and other historical data to offer relevant buying guidance and increase conversions. Know more about how Haptik’s Conversational AI platform can help you sell seamlessly across all messaging platforms.
Support agents need vast amounts of customer information to provide the assistance that customers need.
Conversational UIs (user interfaces) can monitor the conversations – whether by voice or chat – the agent is having with a customer and provide relevant information, screens, or prompts by intervening at appropriate times.
This reduces the hold time and there is no need to transfer the call to another agent because of not having access to enough customer knowledge. This results in a superior CX lowered support costs and high employee satisfaction.
One of the biggest advantages of using a Conversational AI solution is that you can integrate it with your existing systems. This allows your agent to have a 360-degree customer view on a single interface. With this, you can access variables such as the entire user history, chat transcripts, and customer data that assist you to provide a hyper-personalized experience.
What are the results of deploying a good CX?
There are umpteen benefits of an ace CX strategy. Different industries care about different metrics. On a whole, a robust Conversational AI solution can help you decrease your customer support costs by automating queries and boost revenue by powering conversational commerce. Not only it helps enhance the support and purchase experience but also reduces operational overheads. Let’s look at how these things translate into results:
Brand Loyalty & Customer Satisfaction:
According to PWC, 73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties. It is a known fact that it is easier and cheaper to retain existing customers as compared to winning new ones. CX plays a huge role in customer retention. A good CX guarantees brand loyalty and increased customer satisfaction. Globalization has led to cutthroat competition in every industry. There’s no shortcut or hack to winning customer loyalty. Brands have to fight and fight hard to win the CX game!
Word-of-mouth marketing and recommendations:
Brands can splurge all the money they want on advertising but nothing beats word-of-mouth marketing. Happy customers will always talk about the product to their friends, family, and colleagues. Good marketing can’t save a bad product but a good product can almost market itself. A good CX promises more customers, more revenue, and more profits!
This is the end goal of every business. But very few companies prioritize a customer-centric approach. Developing a CX strategy requires you to be obsessed with your customers and what drives them. Increased brand loyalty, customer satisfaction, and positive word-of-mouth marketing assures lower costs and increased profits.
A recent study states that 70% of the buying experience is based on how the customer feels they are treated. Hence, Customer Experience is every businesses’ key area of focus. As more organizations take the digital route, this focus will intensify even further. Companies need to broaden their definition of CX. It is not just limited to customer interaction but extends to how a customer feels about your brand. A well-crafted CX strategy is stitched at the intersection of data, customer behavior, marketing, and empathy. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have created unparalleled scope for companies to enhance customer communication. It’s now time for brands to integrate technology and psychology to take CX to another level.
A key component of every brand’s CX strategy is Conversational AI. Conversational AI has allowed brands to think beyond basic conversations. Chatbots engage and build relationships with customers which go a long way in boosting CSAT and NPS. In case you’re interested, here’s an eBook we’ve put together that shares the experiences of a diverse set of CxOs as a part of their journey to identify feasible, realistic solutions to solve the challenge of repairing a broken customer experience and scaling high-volume customer queries with AI Automation. You can get your copy here.
Join us in our journey to transform Customer Experience with the power of Conversational AI.