How AI is raising the bar on Customer Experience
Chris Wyper, Director of Global Industry Strategy, Retail and E-commerce at Talkdesk, explores how retailers can leverage AI solutions to achieve more personalised CX and stand out in a competitive market.
The rise of personalised or hyper-personalised service is one of the most significant changes we’ve seen across the retail sector over recent years. It might seem a little ironic that, at a time when personal interactions in-store and on the phone have decreased, the process of making a purchase has actually become less transactional and more personalised.
Digitisation has paved the way for retailers to gather more data and analytics. Not only has this digitisation helped retailers better understand their customers, it’s enabled them to respond in real-time to meet their needs..
By creating custom and targeted experiences through the use of data, analytics, AI, and automation, hyper-personalisation is the most advanced way brands can tailor their service to the needs of individual customers. Through hyper-personalisation, brands can send contextualised communications to customers at the right place, at the right time, and via the right channel.
Leveraging the power of data
AI-powered solutions are now coming of age – enabling retailers to better leverage the power of their customer insights to create seamless CX across channels. No longer reserved for the tech-led giants developing their own algorithms, these AI-powered solutions are becoming a staple of many businesses. Contact centre leaders don’t need complex technical skills to make sense of vast amounts of data and act on it at speed.
Customer enquiries, feedback and off-the-cuff comments collected through contact centre touchpoints are a case in point. If evaluated comprehensively, these insights could offer a detailed picture of business performance, customer sentiment, and crucial trends. Without the ability to perform real-time analysis, though, connecting those dots becomes a time-consuming – if not nearly impossible – task. Customer interactions that could deliver insights and value might go unnoticed and untapped.
AI-enabled speech and text analytics tools are starting to change all that. They provide real-time insights into customer satisfaction (CSAT) trends, which in turn help retailers to build loyalty.
Solving customer enquiries
According to our own research, 68 percent of customers surveyed say a single poor experience will negatively impact their brand loyalty, while 44 percent will make a repeat purchase based on positive interactions with a brand. Being able to solve enquiries or problems quickly and effectively has always been an important differentiator for retailers. Customer expectations have risen exponentially in recent years, raising the bar to differentiate even higher along with them.
Retailers fundamentally know that the data they collect is valuable. Now, many are starting to recognise AI-powered solutions as the means for efficient and effective interpretation of that data at speed.
Self-service technology is a highly-efficient way of dealing with customer enquiries, especially for high-volume, uncomplicated enquiries such as order status. Chatbots or virtual agents are the most common, visible sign of deployed self-service capabilities and whilst they are getting smarter they have not replaced human agents – and for good reason!
There are always going to be occasions when emotional intelligence is required, such as dealing with vulnerable customers or more complex cases. AI-powered solutions, like virtual agents, offer valuable support for live agents, freeing up their limited time to concentrate on those complex enquiries that require human empathy.
It’s easy to see why contact centres are increasingly turning to solutions that can support their valued agents. Customer dis-satisfaction caused by long wait times can damage a brand’s reputation, which over time impacts the bottom line. Entrusting customer enquiries to virtual agents alone, however, risks lower resolution rates and removes that invaluable layer of human empathy from the process. So this technology shouldn’t be considered the silver bullet to resolving all enquiries. Agent expertise and compassion are very much still required.
Today’s self-service portals and digital virtual agents are intelligent, more integrated, and easier to train. These AI-powered tools can support agents by monitoring their interactions in real-time to provide relevant suggestions, shortcuts, and just-in-time customer insights.
When included as part of a contact centre platform, AI-technology can ensure that – at every step of the process – customers receive a level of contact appropriate to their individual enquiries and needs. Retailers can scale their contact centres without significantly increasing their workforce, while simultaneously enhancing customer experiences at every touchpoint. Transactional enquiries can be dealt with swiftly at any time of day, freeing up agents to concentrate on the more complex, higher-stakes interactions that ultimately drive loyalty, profits, and market share.
Focusing on the tangible results
AI, like any technology, should be implemented strategically. A way to unlock the benefits of AI-powered technology and build a case for wider adoption within the contact centre is to start small and keep a sharp focus on the tangible results to build internal support and skills before tackling more complex use cases.
Rather than thinking of the end goal and the process changes required to achieve that larger goal, start by making incremental changes and building as you go. Not only will this secure wider buy-in from the team, it can help to drive a longer-term strategy. Once initial results are achieved, the AI project scope can expand, and along with it greater potential for enhanced CX.
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