Consumers are more discerning and demanding, so organisations must find ways to engage and serve clients while improving both the customer and employee experiences. The pandemic has illustrated that these organisations that have not leveraged the capabilities of AI risk being left in the dust by the digital transformation disruptors. According to Nimbus Ninety’s 2021 Digital Trends Report, the number one challenge for organisations when it comes to serving customers effectively is an inability to deliver a consistent experience across all channels.
Customer experience professionals sat down with experts from Wipro and AWS to discuss both the opportunities and challenges of revolutionising the customer experience through AI-driven omnichannel strategies. The discussion explored new ways of leveraging emerging technologies for lasting loyalty, tackling the “AI fear”, and how to decide where to draw the line between AI and the human touch.
THE AI-DRIVEN OMNICHANNEL: MAPPING THE OPPORTUNITY ROADMAP
The customer experience market is changing faster than ever before. Ravi Mhapankar, Head of Customer Experience & Transformation, Wipro Digital Operations and Platforms, explained how the customer experience market is changing on four fronts:
- Market needs: there is an increasing demand for connected journeys, experience culture, and combining online and offline experience. This need is frequently neglected by organisations.
- Emotional needs: consumers need both emotional satisfaction and experience-focused outcomes. This need is frequently neglected by organisations.
- Technology shifts: there has been an accelerated move to digital self-serve and conversational interfaces.
- Operational shifts: there have been improvements in the journey of CSAT, ASAT, PSAT, and agile and multi-modal delivery.
To keep pace with these changes and deliver an exceptional experience, organisations need to re-design their journeys to create the three “R’s” of a successful customer experience environment:
- The reimagined environment: building omnichannel interfaces and putting AI and the digital journey first.
- The reinforced environment: designing IVR and AI assistants and utilising data and analytics to identify and track business metrics.
- The resilient environment: creating nimble and adaptive target architecture that is seamlessly integrated and does not disrupt services.
CUSTOMER JOURNEYS: WHY DESIRABILITY IS EVERYTHING
Martin Delfer, Head of Commercial, Designit for Europe, took a deep dive into the psychology behind the customer journey. From a customer perspective, they want experiences that are simple, digital, and right first time. With 66% of customers switching brands due to poor customer experience, this equates to a $1.6trn annual cost of customer churn to organisations. What is more remarkable is the lack of awareness from corporations that this is the current state of the relationship between organisations and their customers, with 80% of companies believing that they provide a superior customer experience and only 8% of their customers agreeing with this statement.
So how do organisations tackle this rocky relationship? Martin illustrated a plan of action for organisations to take their relationship with customers from “it’s complicated” to wedded bliss:
- Start with desirability: organisations must consider the desirability of services for consumers before the feasibility and visibility stages. If the solution is not sticky and intuitive to the consumer, it will not enhance their experience.
- Develop a people-first strategy: the strategic direction of a new service should be to wrap the service around consumer needs, not their needs around a service.
- Make it all about the interaction: understand how consumers think, feel, and act by spending time with them, not just listening to them. Understand how to create breakthrough experiences by analysing real behaviour.
- Map the highs and lows: by mapping the highs and lows of the customer journey, organisations can identify the pain points. By mapping this both vertically and adjacently, the pain points can be augmented by AI. If every touchpoint is supported by AI, these pain points can then be supported by human interaction.
TO BOT OR NOT TO BOT
A poll was conducted to understand the challenges participants faced in their digital and customer transformation journeys. 61% identified finding innovative ways of working as the biggest impact the pandemic has had on their organisation. 61% also identified people as the biggest obstacle stopping them from adopting cloud-based and AI-driven customer experience transformation. Wipro and AWS then took a deep dive with participants to discuss how to deliver seamless experiences, design customer journeys and maintain the human touch. The discussion identified the primary challenges and opportunities when it comes to organisations leveraging AI and illustrated how people were indeed at the root of many of the challenges, as well as the key to its success:
- Tackling the AI fear
Many organisations struggle with understanding how to get started with AI. Although AI is no longer reserved for technology and IT experts, it is still daunting for many organisations and executives. This barrier needs to be tackled on a cultural level to continue to change the perception of AI technologies and highlight its accessibility. The best way to tackle this is to boost understanding, by using case studies to exhibit the ease and value of AI. By using a variety of case studies to demonstrate the practical use of AI, as well as starting small in the organisation’s AI journey, a culture of reinvention can begin to be cultivated in the business.
- Utilising historic data
Another barrier to utilising AI for an improved customer journey was that of poor data quality. The “AI engine can give an intelligent response”, but only when it is given high-quality historical data. Adequate historical data can allow AI to give an appropriate response to customer issues and improve the customer journey. Once again, this was identified as also a people issue with the necessity of inputting high-quality data to enable the AI to maximise its value.
- Understanding where to draw the line between AI and the human touch
Many organisations attempt to wholly replace the human touch with an AI replica when delivering customer experience. It was acknowledged that consumers are intelligent and want to be treated as such: pretending that a bot is a human rarely works with consumers. However, once this is addressed, consumers are very quick to embrace AI solutions and interactions. If a response requires the human touch, services should be supported with this at key consumer touchpoints.
- Understanding the ROI
Many organisations are still hesitant about investing in AI solutions. Within the discussion, it was identified that the ROI seemed difficult to justify when organisations would still frequently require a human element to support the customer journey. These concerns over the extra cost and potential low return were established to be tackled by “starting small and failing fast”. This could be done through free trials to exhibit the benefits of AI without the cost risk. However, the necessity of AI solutions during the pandemic has illustrated the ROI of AI: with substantial improvements to customer experience, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
This event was in partnership with Wipro, an information technology company that provides digital, technology, and business solutions, and AWS, an on-demand cloud computing platform and API provider.