Sam Chandler, Senior Customer Success Consultant at Zendesk, offered insights into artificial intelligence (AI) and how it can play a key role in an omnichannel customer experience strategy during her presentation to Argyle's CX membership at the 2018 Customer Experience Leadership Forum in Toronto on March 6. In her presentation, "Passing the CX Turing Test: Incorporating AI into Your Omnichannel Strategy," Chandler provided tips to help CX professionals simultaneously leverage AI and other state-of-the-art technologies and maintain a customer-centric focus.
According to Chandler, connecting with customers across a variety of channels offers many opportunities for CX professionals. Yet building an omnichannel strategy is merely the first step to delivering outstanding customer experiences time and time again.
CX professionals must allocate time and resources to build an omnichannel strategy from the ground-up. By doing so, CX professionals can establish goals and metrics and boost the likelihood of long-lasting success.
"Strategies have two things in common: they are measureable, and they are scalable," Chandler said. "Just saying that you are going to go above and beyond for your customers is neither of those things."
AI and other technologies can help CX professionals enhance the effectiveness of an omnichannel strategy. But CX professionals must have a strategy to maximize the value of these technologies too.
"If you don't have an [omnichannel] strategy defined already, there is no amount of AI and no amount of channels or agents that will pull you back from that," Chandler stated.
CX professionals often strive to exceed customer expectations – a lofty goal for CX professionals who want to help a company distinguish itself from the competition. However, surpassing customer expectations has not been shown to deliver meaningful results for businesses.
"[AI] can help reduce your user effort … so you can focus on high-touch interactions."
Instead, CX professionals should explore ways to generate meaningful customer insights and use these insights to tailor their CX efforts accordingly.
"Relying on delighting your customers and exceeding their expectations does not work because it is not scalable," Chandler pointed out. "There is no data that shows that customers whose expectations have been exceeded are actually more loyal than customers whose expectations have simply been met."
Today's customers anticipate that companies will understand what they need before they actually need it. Furthermore, customers expect high levels of service, and they expect service to be delivered quickly and efficiently.
Ultimately, journey mapping offers a valuable tool to help CX professionals keep pace with customers. It provides many options to help CX professionals analyze the customer perspective. Plus, journey mapping ensures CX professionals can understand the context behind customer interactions.
"Journey mapping takes many forms … and the most important element of customers choosing which channel they're going to go with is contextual based on where they are and what they're doing," Chandler said.
Many businesses struggle to differentiate multichannel and omnichannel, yet there are notable differences between the two.
Whereas multichannel involves the use of many channels to connect with customers, it fails to account for providing consistent experiences to all customers, at all times. Comparatively, omnichannel involves the use of many channels and requires CX professionals to determine the best ways to deliver seamless experiences across these channels.
"What omnichannel strives to do is create a seamless experience for the customer along the entirety of the lifecycle of their resolution," Chandler noted. "When you look at omnichannel from that perspective … it starts to change the way you measure the customer experience."
Thanks to AI, businesses can become more productive and efficient than ever before. But many companies still fail to see the long-term benefits of AI investments.
Learning about AI is paramount for companies of all sizes and across all industries. If companies can define the value provided by AI, they can incorporate this technology into everyday processes and systems. Also, CX professionals can use AI to discover innovative ways to connect with customers.
"AI can take a lot of different forms … but really all an artificial intelligence system involves is a system that can take data and start to learn from it on its own," Chandler indicated.
A broad approach to AI can make a world of difference, particularly for CX professionals.
"If you don't have an [omnichannel] strategy defined already, there is no amount of AI and no amount of channels or agents that will pull you back from that."
CX professionals can leverage AI to drive improved data analysis and automation and reduce their workloads. Perhaps most important, CX professionals can streamline mundane tasks to focus on what is most important – finding the best ways to engage with customers at all stages of the customer journey.
"If you only think of AI in terms of bots, you might wonder how [AI] applies to what you're doing," Chandler said. "But [AI] can help reduce your user effort … so you can focus on high-touch interactions."
As a Senior Customer Success Consultant with Zendesk, Sam Chandler partners with CEOs, managers and customer service teams to develop support strategies that consider the entire customer experience and effectively scale with an organization's growth. After spending the last 15 years becoming acclimated with every customer service role, Sam knows what truly drives loyalty — and it definitely doesn't involve the promise of differentiated customer service sans a strategy to back it up. It's about aligning your service goals with your organization's larger objectives and calibrating your measurements of success to reflect that mission.