How AI can help to understand the customer

Ahead of us is a significant change in the way brands use customer experience (CX).  We are already starting to see the switch from companies competing on price and product to competing on CX. But what exactly do we mean by CX? Gartner defines CX as a customer’s perceptions and feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.   

Previously, the communication flow between customers and companies was either in person, writing or via a telephone call to the support line. Now, there are increasingly more ways customers can interact with brands, and when they do, they expect a high-quality experience “on demand.” 81% of marketing leaders were expected to mostly or completely compete based on customer experience by 2019, as revealed in the 2017 Gartner Customer Experience in Marketing Survey.  

There are many tools already giving insight to CX, such as NPS and Customer Success Scores. However, when companies need to make quick decisions, real-time insights are what’s helping decision makers. Technologies such as AI are now gathering these insights by allowing companies to organize and categorize data based on business needs, helping to make sense of all these interactions.  

To understand the customer from a CX perspective, and give some real-world examples, we can filter down a myriad of AI technologies and categorize them into three buckets: 

  • Speech Analytics: understanding, interpreting and analyzing voice conversations. Example: understand sentiment, IVR systems.
  • Image: capturing, processing and analyzing images, photos and video. Example: customer patterns, social media image analysis. 
  • Natural Language Processing: analyzing human expression and emotion. Example: text, chatbot, email analysis.  

The below table shows CX use cases and examples of these AI technologies in action:  

Source: Gartner 2019

Are data scientists the only ones needing to understand these technologies? No, it’s extremely valuable to both marketing and CX teams to gain an understanding of these tools. Every company has unique needs depending on CX goals and business objectives. Teams need to make a well-informed decision and understand which tools are most useful to their business, which will essentially lead to more accurate decision-making and a customer-first approach.     

Now, are people rushing to adopt these new AI technologies for CX? In Gartner´s 2018 Enterprise AI survey, it was revealed that businesses that are already deploying AI, 26% are implementing it to improve customer experience. Although it may not seem urgent to start implementing these technologies right away, it’s important that businesses are aware and start to familiarize themselves with these AI applications.  

A good place to start is mapping out a customer journey and finding the ‘dark spots’. These are the areas that could benefit from deeper real-time insights, such as understanding the mood of a customer when they are talking with a chatbot. Having these insights will allow you to hand over the conversation to a human based on the customer’s emotion.  

Companies are dealing with an increasing number of interactions happening across multiple channels and devices. With customer expectations are at an all-time high, it’s not easy to connect all these touch points and deliver an excellent customer. AI can help provide rich insights allowing you to get faster, real-time understandings, and optimize the overall customer journey.