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How Conversational AI can Improve the Customer Experience

Note: This blog was originally featured on The Australian Marketing Institute’s blog – “Marketing Voice”.

When people talk about customer experience (CX), they typically think about the traditional sales and marketing touchpoints along the customer journey. For example, friendly customer service, eye-catching store merchandising, or beautiful apps and websites that minimise friction for customers.

But as the world changes and technologies develop, so too has CX. So, how can we best make use of these evolving technologies to improve the Customer Experience?

Leverage the right Customer Experience tools

95% of leading organisations cite CX job roles as critical to achieving business growth—the highest of any job role. While the number of CX roles has increased in recent years, “many CEOs don’t adequately appreciate what CX analysis platforms and applications can reveal” (HBR).This means that while many organisations have CX specific roles or functions and tracking programs in place, only a proportion of these are maximising their investment in CX.

One tool in a CX professionals’ kit bag is Conversational AI, which is a set of machine-learning technologies, including Natural Language Processing that enables human-like interactions with consumers.  This technology manifests itself in a couple of different ways when it comes to CX. 

The first is as a service-bot interface that helps reduce the cost to serve for organisations by triaging CX related queries.  The second, and emerging space, is when Conversational AI is used to dive deeper into the psyche of your customers. In this context, an AI-powered chatbot replaces or augments traditional surveys (think of using this where you’d typically have your open-ended questions), allowing you to have two-way conversations with your customers. This enables you to understand your target market’s true feelings and motivations, while delivering a positive brand experience for your customers.  It’s not just about uncovering a deeper level of insight, it’s also about creating a connection between a brand and its customers.

Fear of what the AI-powered data may reveal

For some leaders, this may be confronting as the results can uncover areas of improvement or disprove certain opinions they may have. Nevertheless, it’s helpful for marketers and CX professionals to come to these conclusions sooner rather than later. The earlier you can get honest, meaningful feedback from customers, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

Let’s take a clothing store’s in-store experience survey as an example. A customer may rate their experience a 6 out of 10 and leave the following open-ended comment: “I had a horrible experience at your store”. Unfortunately, there is no way to better understand this person’s experience and what aspect needed improvement.

With Conversational AI, a chatbot can probe and ask about this negative experience, to which the customer might reveal that they were unhappy because the product they wanted wasn’t in stock or they had to chase down a store person to get help. This level of detail is essential in making improvements to the customer experience, providing the opportunity for organisations to close the loop in communications and ultimately drive customer loyalty through an exceptional proposition.

How to capitalise on AI within CX

Having the ability to gather this much feedback from your customers is great – but then comes the tricky task of analysing the data and garnering insights. Luckily, text analytics has progressed a great deal in the last few years.

Think of text analytics as your translator.  Gone are the days of manually coding a proportion of your feedback – auto-coding 100% of text responses into categories and sub-categories most important to you and your business is eminently achievable.  AI models that drive these conversations and code the responses can be developed quickly, using terms commonly used in your industry and improve over time with the more conversations you have with your customers.

And it’s not just topic-coding.  Advanced text analytics methods used to analyse and visualise feedback at scale are becoming more prevalent – sentiment analysis, text clustering, and emotional thematic analytics provide organisations with the opportunity to truly listen to their customers and make data driven investment decisions.

Leading CX from within

The vast amount of data being harnessed presents many opportunities.  Many organisations have mature reporting when it comes to customers’ buying habits, incomes, and other characteristics used to classify them – but they often know little about the thoughts, emotions, and true state of mind of their customers, which the latest CX technology can harvest.

Linking behavioural data, preferences, organisational data and CX feedback can be a key input into the strategic planning process, identify tactical opportunities to convert sales and be a basis for marketing campaigns and loyalty programs through personalisation. 

Maximising ROI on CX investment however requires the curation of insight and story-telling to inspire action.  This is not easy, and hence role of the CX professional within organisations has never been more critical.

Find out more

Human Listening is an AI-powered insights platform with EVE, a Conversational AI companion, allowing you to have a meaningful conversation with your customers, and delivering up to 5x the feedback of traditional surveys.  To find out more about how Human Listening and Conversational AI can power up your CX program, check out our website.

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