Explore the horizon where artificial intelligence meets human touch in customer experiences with our host, Jeannie Walters. We're traversing the fine line between the innovative prowess of AI and the essential need for empathy in customer service. Get ready to unlock the secrets of AI that don't just streamline processes but fundamentally enhance the quality of customer interactions. From personalized service to predicting needs and the seamless operation of chatbots and virtual assistants, we're delving into how these tools should be aligned with your brand's heart and soul, all while safeguarding the sanctity of customer privacy.
Join us for a conversation that promises to empower your organization with AI while keeping the customer relationship at the core.
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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:
Hey, hey, everyone, it is Experience Action. I'm Jeannie Walters, ready for your questions and, just like clockwork, we got another great question today. Let's dive inOther:
Hi Jeannie! My name is Jamie. AI seems to be the big thing these days. It's popping up everywhere, so my question is what is the right and wrong way to use that in the customer experience context?Jeannie Walters:
Oh, AI, AI. It is everywhere, isn't it? And I think part of what is so fascinating to all of us about artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially when it comes to customer experience, is this idea that you know what we are in a new era. We are in an age where things can be faster, more efficient, more personalized, literally with the click of a button. So, as we move into this new era, it's really important not just to think about all the opportunities and not just the anxiety over the robots taking over, or Skynet officially here. Really, what we have to think about is what's our role with this? So, when it comes to the context of customer experience, we really need to think as almost ambassadors to our customers. How can we protect them, how can we offer them the amazing conveniences and efficiencies that AI will bring them? While at the same time, being considerate of things like data security, privacy, all of those things that we've heard talked about, but maybe in our own organizations we haven't necessarily addressed. So I love the way this question is phrased what are the right ways and what are the wrong ways to use AI in CX? So, as we approach this question, from my perspective, we have to keep the customer top of mind. This is all about really considering not just the potential of the machine learning and the artificial intelligence for our organizations, but what will this really do for customers that will help them lead easier lives, have more effortless experiences or just simply more delight in what they do. So here are a few ideas for you. When it comes to the right ways to use AI in customer experience, I would say the number one thing that I'm seeing is it's a great way to enhance personalization and understanding of customers. AI can just do so much more in such a shorter amount of time than any human can. We can use AI and the tools available to us to analyze vast amounts of data, to personalize customer interactions and predict future needs, which is what customers tell us they want. They want predictive customer experiences. They don't want something to go wrong. AI will help us with that predictive experience. It makes their experiences more relevant and, quite frankly, engaging. Now, does this serve the company or the organization? Absolutely, because that provides a way to keep the customer engaged. Maybe they stay with you longer, maybe they spend more, but personalized experiences also provide a lot more for the customer. Another way I see the right way to use AI is with improving response times and availability. You know, we as customers often try to do something when we think about it, right? We think, oh gosh, I've got a call about that bill or I've got to follow up on that delivery that's late. But if we pick the wrong time, if that occurs to us when we wake up in the middle of the night, or when we are just waking up in the morning, maybe on our way to work, sometimes that's not the ideal time to contact the organization because they might just simply not be available. So now, with the use of chat bots and virtual assistants and again I want to stress, we can't just release chat bots out into the world we have to make sure they have the right data, that they are trained in the right way and that we are making sure that their tone and language matches our brand as well. So it's not just about, you know, tacking on a chat bot. What we want to think about is how chat bots can actually provide that availability at hours and times and days when maybe we don't have the humans to do that. We can overcome time zone barriers. This way we can do a lot in serving customers. When we think about it the right way. So, through chat bots and virtual assistants, AI can provide that instant support and information that customers do sometimes look for 24-7. They don't have barriers on their time. The chat bots can also address those simple queries, those things that people contact about what are the hours that you're open, how do I pay my bill the things that are repetitive and standard. Chat bots can handle that very, very well, and that actually frees up those human agents that we have to address those more nuanced and complicated situations or to just be that human if something's really going wrong for the customer. We want to make sure that our human agents have enough empathy in the tank to deal with those situations in a really personal and compassionate way, and empathy is not an infinite resource. We have to make sure that we are providing the right environment and support and resources for the people who are serving the customers to make sure that they can show up with that empathy, and one of the ways we might be able to do that is by offloading all of those repetitive, standard questions to chat bots or virtual assistants using AI technology. So another thing I'm very excited about when it comes to AI and CX is really optimizing customer journeys because we can really look at those AI driven analytics and insights that they find, because AI can identify patterns in some amazing ways. They can look through all of that data that we just don't have the horsepower to do in a timely manner and really make sure that we're looking for those pain points that maybe haven't quite made it to our feedback surveys yet. Maybe we have not identified certain points of friction yet because it just hasn't met that critical threshold of enough people saying it. But AI can start identifying those patterns earlier and so we can start enabling our customers and our processes and our people in organizations to streamline processes, to really look for those points of friction and fix them, and I think that will really provide just a more delightful, easier journey for our customers, and that's what they're looking for and that will also serve our organizations, because the easier we can make it for a customer to go through a journey, then that means that they're going to get to what they want to do. They're going to achieve their goal, which means that most likely we are providing the solution for whatever pain they have, and so that's ultimately what we want to do is make that journey so easy that they feel good about it, that we're serving them in a really human, authentic way. But at the same time, our organization benefits because they're buying more, maybe they're staying customers longer, maybe they're just becoming a customer because it's easier to do than ever before. Now, those are the things I'm excited about with AI and CX. But let's talk about some of the things that maybe as our questioner asked, what are the wrong ways to use AI in CX? So here are a few things to look out for, I'm going to say. Number one: I just wrote about this is about the overreliance on automation. We want AI to handle those simple tasks. We want it to offload things from our human agents and employees, but if we decide that it's a one-to-one replacement, that automation can just replace our humans, then that is very short-sighted in my humble opinion, because if we rely too heavily on automation, what happens is that's how it learns all those interactions. That's the data that builds the data set that actually leads to how machines and chatbots behave. So if they're all learning from automation, I can see a world where everything becomes pretty impersonal, very robotic, ironically, and really just missing that human empathy and understanding, especially for those nuanced and complex situations. So, while we love what automation can offer, we want to be aware that automation requires human training, and that's what I want CX leaders especially, but really business leaders in general, to be aware of. Think about how can you actually train the automation the right way to really serve you and not just replace human interaction. The other thing that I think is a big one that we all have to start grappling with is invasion of privacy. How do people feel about their private data being used and being reviewed in all these different ways? Now, some organizations in the past have had humans who do this right. There were some stories a few years ago about certain employees getting angry at somebody, at a customer, and then sending things because they had their home address. So the employees actually sent things to the customer anonymously because they had access to that data. Obviously, that is a horrible breach of conduct and ethics, and it also is something that we have to consider with really understanding AI, because AI will start really having access to data points that maybe we don't want everybody to have access to, either throughout the organization or even publicly, and so we need to think about consent. How will this look in a few years? I personally think that we're going to have some challenges and this will work itself out, but it's going to get a little bumpy before it gets smooth, in my humble opinion, because we have to make sure that we are getting that consent to use customer data and then, when we're using it on behalf of the individual customer, we need that consent too. So all of the great things I just talked about with personalization we have to make sure that the customer understands how we're using their personal data to make those predictions for them, to give them that next suggested product or whatever it is. We have to make sure that they understand how their data is being used and get really that consent. I personally think we're going to have to have some sort of control mechanism for each individual customer eventually, where they will be able to tell you exactly how to use their data and have control over it and turn it on and off in an easy way. Now, right now, today, we have to look for ways. Are there things set up that might breach that privacy with a customer, might erode trust or might just validate some regulations? GDPR in the European region is a big deal. We need to make sure that we follow the rules. There are other regulations like that. We have to make sure that our data and the way AI is accessing that data is fulfilling the right regulations around that. Another thing to consider, for one of the wrong ways to use AI in CX is really failing to disclose that we're using it, right. A lack of transparency about it. I'm starting to see some journalists say use a disclaimer at the top, saying this was not generated by AI. This was written solely by me. I think we're going to start seeing more of that and I think in customer interactions, we have to really think about that as customer experience leaders and provide that transparency from the beginning. We have to make sure that we are delivering on letting them know when they are talking with AI, when they are interacting with a friendly bot, when we are using their information and it looks human, we have to make sure that they understand when it's actually human and when it's actually AI. Now, sometimes it's both. We have contact centers who the agents will have to find information quickly and use AI to do that, but they can still have that conversation with a human and disclose, "This is what AI is telling me. This is what the bot we can brand the bot whatever it is and we can say, ok, this is what it's telling me, how does that sound to you customer?" So that it's this hybrid of really machines and humans working together, but being very transparent about when that is being used and how it's being used. Customers are telling us they feel sometimes duped or deceived when they are interacting with the bot that they think is a human, and they do not have that information because when you figure it out, it can feel very deceptive. So we have to be very clear about what we're doing with AI and how it's all working. All right, a few steps to take away from this conversation. One think about the ethical implications of anything you do with AI, and this is true for not just customer experience but for all industries. Think about privacy, consent, transparency. Make sure that the AI tone and values and the way that it's interacting with your customers actually lives up to the values and the brand tone that you have for your overall, overall organization. We also want to balance AI and human touch. We don't want to get too reliant. We don't want to just release a bunch of chatbots into the world and hope for the best, right. We want to educate and train our teams. We want to make sure that they understand the capabilities and limitations of AI and what we're expecting from them. So if we ask them to use AI, what does that really mean? Make sure we're getting very clear on what we're asking them to do when we ask them to rely on that technology. And then, really, this is a work in progress, folks. We need to continuously monitor and iterate. We need to make sure that we are responding to not just what the bots are telling us to do, because machine learning they're going to learn, they're going to have suggestions. We're going to learn a lot just by using this technology. But we also want to pick our head up and look at the world, look at the marketplace, look at expectations, just like we do in any other part of customer experience. So really think about your own values, your own ethics, how that lines up with your organization, and then think about that balance of AI and humanity and how we can better serve our customers to get better business results. Thank you so much for this question. I love hearing from everybody and if you want more of this type of information, I encourage you to check out CXI Flight School. Now, this is the group mentorship program that we've created for leaders like you. The waitlist is now open, so check it out at CXIflight school. com. Until next time, don't forget, you can leave me a message at askjeannie. vip , and you might hear your answer on this podcast. Thanks for being here. I look forward to talking to you next week. To learn more about our strategic approach to experience. Check out free resources at experience investigators. com, where you can sign up for our newsletter, our year of CX program and more, and please follow me, Jeannnie Walters, on LinkedIn.