AI and GigCX: Delivering personalized customer experiences
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) should be a carefully considered proposition. Because most companies have places in the customer journey that can benefit from AI, the question is not whether to use it, but rather where to use it in the customer journey.
Brands frequently overcommit to AI, replacing important aspects of customer communication in their desire to automate and perhaps streamline the customer experience. AI in the form of chatbots and other automated services need to act as aides in the customer journey, not a replacement for other methods of contact.
If chatbots are deployed and people are thinking about them as a way to contain customers and eliminate agents, that is just going to be a disservice for everybody. I am seeing companies take advantage of the analytics technology that is available to gain feedback on the full customer experience by unlocking the “dark data” that sits ignored in the contact center. Every call to the contact center is recorded, then it is promptly stored on a hard drive and ignored. AI can now turn that unstructured mess of bits into useful information that can be used to understand why people are calling a brand. This information can be used to find product flaws, trouble with the company’s website, or issues across the entire customer journey. When contact centers can share out this information they bring new value to the entire organization, raising their profile and helping them move beyond the limits of a tight cost center focus that so many contact centers struggle with.
Customer experience is at the heart of a business’ relationship with its customer. Monetary transactions are an important part of the customer experience, but for most businesses, add-on sales and future sales are critical to their bottom line. Too much focus on AI to the exclusion of relationship-building will eat into future profits and long-term customer value.
To balance the role of AI in the customer journey, it can be helpful to split customer interactions into transactional and relational points of contact. Transactional points of contact are those times when the customer is expecting a touchpoint of a larger interaction. For example, order confirmation, tracking number, tracking status, and delivery notification are all transactional if they are working as expected. Relational points of contact are any point in the customer journey where the customer doesn’t know what to expect or isn’t getting what they expect.
AI is a great fit for transactional points in the customer journey, but a terrible fit for relational interactions.
On the flip side, conversations with fellow brand advocates will resonate with customers, result in a positive experience, and build a positive relationship. Brands should invest in human connections that create an empathetic response. Not only does this approach improve the consumer lifecycle, but it also gives organizations a distinct point of differentiation.
Where to start when personalizing the customer experience
Brand advocates - otherwise known as GigCX Experts - are the core of a personalization strategy. Experts have skills and areas of expertise that AI cannot mimic today. They provide a human connection, a feeling of community, troubleshooting, and specific knowledge that is tough to capture in information repositories, AI’s source for information.
With GigCX, brands can react to customer needs in real time, give them what they are looking for, and help them, where they are, within the customer journey.
The buyer journey is no longer linear, so engaging with them on a closer and more personal level via gig experts will enable brands to better help within an unpredictable journey. Humans are equipped to do this. By offering greater direct interaction with customers, brands can develop customer relationships as they help with whatever specific issue the customer is having.
It’s critical right now that organizations look at how they are using people versus why they are building bots and creating automation in the enterprise. We don’t necessarily need people to help with very basic billing queries, but companies do need to ensure they are augmenting the people they have in the enterprise and using human empathy where it is needed. Humans are our primary resource pool and that is unlikely to change over the next 10 years, so we should be building to optimize that primary resource pool instead of building to get rid of it.
GigCX recommendations are likely to be much more useful than enterprise recommendations because they are based on empathy and customer experience. What we saw during the pandemic was that many companies wanted to accommodate, and wanted to digitally transform, but they couldn’t move past self-help channels. GigCX, on the other hand, allowed those companies who had invested in it to plan, forecast, and create for engagement across their channels. In the model, no agent is idle, and the digital storyline becomes vastly effective.
Helping people with their specific issues makes people feel heard and valued as customers, which has a direct correlation on their perception of your business and their likelihood to return. Customer loyalty can no longer be assumed based solely on the product. What really counts is the personal connection and relationship established by your brand.