Experience Action

Balancing Humans and AI in CX

December 05, 2023 Jeannie Walters, CCXP Episode 51
Experience Action
Balancing Humans and AI in CX
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready to uncover the secret to balancing human touch with the scalability of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Customer Experience (CX)? Tune in and join Jeannie Walters on an insightful journey that takes us to the meeting point of tech and touch, where we examine the delicate dance between personalization and privacy. As we embark on this exploration, we draw inspiration from the likes of Amazon, Chewy, and Zappos, giants who have successfully integrated AI to create a human-centered experience on a mammoth scale. The role of consistency, authenticity, and the human-AI equilibrium in building solid customer relationships won't escape our analysis.

Venturing further, we delve into the transformative power of AI and its potential to make customer experiences proactive rather than reactive. As we navigate the ethically charged waters of AI implementation, we'll ponder on how to maintain balance and trust. Most importantly, you are encouraged to think about how AI can enrich human elements in customer experience and why ethical considerations should be your compass in these decisions. Buckle up for an exhilarating ride into the world where technology and human experiences intersect.

Thank you to Bryan Kramer (bryankramer.com) for the great question!

Resources Mentioned:
Experience Investigators Learning Center -- experienceinvestigators.com

Want to ask a question? Visit askjeannie.vip to leave Jeannie a voicemail! (And don't forget to follow Jeannie on LinkedIn! www.linkedin.com/in/jeanniewalters/)

MC:

Experience Action. Let's stop just talking about customer experience, employee experience and the experience of leaders. Let's turn ideas into action. Your host, jeannie Walters, is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker and founder of Experience Investigators, a strategic consulting firm helping companies increase sales and customer retention through elevated customer experiences. Ready Set Action. One, two, three, four.

Jeannie Walters:

I'm Jeannie Walters, you have questions, and this is the Experience Action Podcast. Now I cannot wait to share this next question with you, because it's a meaty one. Let's talk about AI.

Other:

I would love to know, now with all of this great AI that's coming out, how do we maintain the balance between AI, especially as it comes to user experience, and what will show up as great user experience, I would imagine, and maybe some human touch, like don't we want to see more humanity in and imperfection and things in user experience that makes us feel like there is a human involved? I mean, I got to ask, as the human-to-human guy, how do we maintain the balance when it comes to the human experience with all this technology and all of this AI.

Jeannie Walters:

What a great question, and for those of you who don't know my friend, Bryan Kramer, I would recommend that you check out his site, bryankramer. com. That's Bryan with a Y, b-r-y-a-n-k-r-a-m-e-r. He is a gifted coach and thought leader and focuses on human-to-human H-2-H. So I love that you reached out and asked this question, Bryan, and I think there's a lot to uncover here. Now, when we talk about the most pressing questions in the modern world around customer experience, this is one of the big ones, right? How do we maintain that balance between AI and human interaction and customer experiences, especially as AI technology continues to evolve really in ways that we don't even understand yet? So let's dive into this a little bit. The first thing I would encourage everybody who's exploring AI and really embracing it to think about is this idea of personalization versus privacy for your customers. Now, when we talk about AI, a lot of times we are talking about the ways that it can really understand the individual customer and provide that personalized experience. Amazon, for instance, has AI-driven recommendations that we all appreciate as personalized suggestions. These are products based on browsing and purchasing history, but Amazon maintains a clear data privacy policy. Now, you may not know it, you may not have sought it out, but there are things that we have to consider as we move into this world of highly personalized experiences for customers, with using artificial intelligence and the data that goes with that. So we have to give our customers control over their data and allow people to, for instance, delete browsing history or opt out of certain data uses. But this is a really delicate balance between offering a personalized experience and respecting privacy.

Other:

Man wants his privacy, I can respect that.

Jeannie Walters:

So that's the first thing to consider when we're balancing that human experience with the personalization and the way that AI can tap into our data. Next, I wanna think about efficiency versus empathy. So when we think about how AI can be used, one of the big ways is for operational efficiency. We see this right now, today in the contact center and in the customer experience world because, for example, instead of digging through the knowledge base, we now have natural language processing tools that can find the right information for that contact center agent to give the very specific advice about a very specific problem in real time. That's a lot more efficient, not just for the employee, the person on the phone who are in the chat or however they're contacting the customer, but also for the customer. We are no longer asking them to wait so that somebody can really dig through a knowledge base trying to find the right information. Now one example and it's kind of the same, I'm sorry is Zappos does this really well. They are really renowned for their human centered customer service, the way that they respond to customers and they really empower their representatives to genuinely connect with customers, address issues with empathy and understanding. Another example of this is Chewy. They are very good at leveraging different data and AI to provide a very human experience. Frankly, that is full of empathy. They are known for sending extra treats, they are known for recognizing pet birthdays and when pets die, they often send something in condolence. So they really show up with empathy and understanding. But at the same time, that is because they're able to do that at scale thanks to the efficiency that AI can give them and tapping into understanding kind of your customers real life journey in very powerful ways, because you're not tracking things by just writing something on a calendar. You have these reminders, AI can read some signals. So, for example, if somebody cancels a pet food subscription, that can be a signal that maybe they've lost a pet. So, really understanding, how do you really connect that operational efficiency and empathy at scale, which can be so powerful and it's a great way to show up in a very human way for our customers. Yeah! Another consideration here is I can give us consistency and we also want to consider authenticity. So when we are looking for how to connect with our customers, of course we need to be consistent. We need to make sure that if they have an experience with one employee or franchise or location or digital touch point the next time they show up. It's consistent. It's not something that feels different or unfamiliar, and so when we talk about, you know, consistency, it is a very, very important part of the customer experience and the customer journey. Consistency! We want to make sure that we're not sacrificing authenticity. Authenticity every time. One example that I would think of and I'm not sure if this is exactly right, but you know, I love Peloton, and part of why I love Peloton is because you kind of know what you're getting into. It's very clear about things like how long a class is and what Type of class and things like that. But every instructor is a little different. They bring their own kind of special, unique qualities to each workout, and so it's that really wonderful balance of I know. It's consistent because I know that they're going to meet the goals of the class. They're going. It will always be the amount of time that they promise, things like that. But every single one is a little different because there's an actual human who's allowed to be themselves, and I think that's really important too. So when we look at that consistency that we want to provide in the customer journey, I would encourage anyone out there designing customer journeys or looking for specific touch points where you want to kind of turn up the volume a little bit. On that authenticity, think about what can you do to help the employees that you have, the humans, actually show up as themselves, be very authentic. And then, if we think about this a different, a different way, you know, Starbucks is an interesting example of this because there's a very consistent way to submit a digital order, through the app, for instance, and then you go and you pick it up and there's a place to pick up mobile orders. But the authenticity of the Starbucks experience is really about those baristas who engage personally and try to foster that community feel. So, as we're rolling out these tools and technologies like artificial intelligence, we have to consider not just the touch point of the tool but the touch point of what happens next for that customer. During the pandemic, a lot of grocery stores suddenly had to figure out digital ordering and pickups, and what they found was they could really knock the digital ordering part out of the park. They got that very well, but when it was time to pick up, customers got confused. They didn't know where to pull up their car, they didn't know who to ask, they didn't know who to call, and so they figured out you know what we need to have special signage and instructions and maybe prompts in the mobile app, so that we can connect the employees who are going to walk out with those groceries with the people in their cars." That is an example of how to use this for both consistency and like encourage our people to have authenticity as well by thinking about those very human interaction points that happen even when we have digital orders, even when we use AI. All of those things can be true. And then you know, I brought up scalability. I think this is another good thing to think about. When we are talking about scale, we can't lose sight of connection, and so when we're looking for ways to really leverage AI or other technologies for that purpose of scale, we don't want it to make somebody feel like they are a number or they are a transaction. We don't want to lose sight of the fact that every single time we interact and engage with a customer, that is an individual human being, and this is why I love that Bryan asked this question, because he is so focused on this, on this idea of human to human, and I think we all should be right, like we all have to think this way. A lot of virtual assistants, I'm not sure if that's the right term even, but you know, when you go to your banking mobile app, for instance, they might have a personalized or humanized kind of virtual assistant. I believe Bank of America has one called Erica.

MC:

Hi there, how can I help you?

Jeannie Walters:

And Erica can help you with your banking inquiries. So if you are using that very digital touch point, it can still feel like a human experience. And actually they found that some of the human ways that we interact with different customers or people that we're serving, if we have a bad day as a human being, empathy is a finite resource. We do not have an unlimited supply of empathy. AI does, in a way, and so we could actually save some of our people and the empathy resources that they have for the very tough human situations, maybe things that need more compassion, more understanding. We can kind of reserve our human employees and make sure that they have what they need so that they can show up in a way that is full of empathy and compassion. You know, when we talk about those virtual assistants, one study that I saw recently was they had doctors actually answer the same question digitally as an AI bot and what they found was with the same exact prompt. Customers didn't know who was human and who was the robot, and so they were asked which one of these feels more understanding and did you feel empathy in the response? And they actually scored the AI higher. And that's because doctors are busy people, so they didn't necessarily have the time to respond with a lot of empathy, and the difference was that doctors would say things like, oh for that, take two you know antacids, and call me in the morning, and the bot would actually say wow, it sounds like you're really uncomfortable. I'm really sorry to hear that. Here's what I would recommend. Here's what to do. If it doesn't work within the following ways, here are some other ideas for how to make your symptoms a little less acute. Time is also a finite resource, and what AI can do for scalability is really help us connect in a very human way, in a more scalable way. And then we also want to look at things like how can we use this for proactive engagement rather than reactive service? So I talk often about how I believe customer experience should be intentional and proactive in order to be positive. Many customer experiences are purely reactive, and what that means is we're only solving problems, that people wave their hands and say, please help me solve this problem, instead of looking at what can we actually do to improve this in a proactive way so they don't even have this problem? AI can help us identify some of those root causes so that we can go correct that we can go make that experience better so that they don't have to call service. So looking at ways that we can do that really help the customer, the human, get to what they want to get faster and in a more pleasant way. And the amazing part about all this, of course, is that this is a continuous learning and adaptation and evolution, and so the more that we learn about what our customers like and how they react to these different AI tools, the more that the AI, the artificial intelligence, and we, the humans, will be able to really collaborate on that in order to make sure that we're delivering more of what the customers need. We're doing it in a human way. We're making them feel like they are understood and heard and valued, and yet we're doing that at scale, so that we're not making one customer feel more important than the other. We're actually able to scale things like empathy and compassion, which I think is really exciting. But instead of looking at this as us versus them or AI versus human, I like to think about it as really a human AI collaboration, especially in fields like healthcare or education or places where it is hard to scale those conversations. But if we can use this amazing technology for specific tasks, like, in healthcare, analyzing x-rays or identifying certain patterns, but then the conversation about what to do next and having that discussion, that's up to the doctor, that's up to the humans, that's up to the healthcare practitioners out there, and so it becomes this really nice synergy of what we can do together. Now I want to say all of these things really, we have to sprinkle in that conversation about ethical considerations and trust. So what are we promising around this technology? We have to be very transparent to our customers when we're using it. We have to help them have control over their data and privacy. All of those things are absolutely critical when we talk about responsible AI practice. We want to build that trust by demonstrating a commitment to ethical AI development. Ethically speaking. So those are a few ideas, and so I would really encourage you, as a customer experience professional or a business leader, to really think about the incredible opportunities for enhancing customer experiences, but recognizing this is not a one size fits all solution. We need to find that sweet spot where AI enhances rather than replaces human interaction. We need to use AI to handle some of those routine tasks and let our human employees focus on the areas that require emotional intelligence and creative problem solving, and so, when we think about how AI will continue to evolve, our challenge is to use it in ways that really complement the human elements of customer experience. We need to focus on empathy and personalization and these ethical considerations in the beginning of the conversation, not as an afterthought. We want to strike that balance, and so I really appreciate this question, Bryan. I think that there's so much that we are peeling back the layers of the onion to really understand the power of this, and power also requires great responsibility, as every superhero has ever taught us, and so I really encourage us, as these leaders, to think about what can we do to balance that incredible efficiency and productivity and scale that AI can give us with the incredible humanness of the people that we're serving and that are being served. We want to make sure that we are balancing that with the humans who are part of this equation. This is not a replacement. This is that collaboration that will really serve all of us for a very long time, as long as we keep these ethical concerns at the forefront. So thank you so much for this wonderful question. We are very excited that we are about to celebrate our year anniversary of this podcast. So I encourage you, if you have been listening for a while and you have not yet asked me a question, now is your chance to really reach out. Get your question answered in 2024 by leaving me a voicemail at askjeannie. vip. And that's Jeannie j-e-a-n-n-i-e. I'm so happy you're here. Thank you for all you do. I know that you are the humans making all of this happen and I'm so proud that you are part of this community. So thank you for all you do. I can't wait to celebrate with you very soon and I can't wait to answer your question. Thanks everybody. To learn more about our strategic approach to experience, check out free resources at experienceinvestigators. com, where you can sign up for our newsletter, our year of CX program and more. And please follow me, Jeannie Walters, on LinkedIn.

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