Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly become an integral part of modern business technology suites, promising to revolutionise various departments. However, as organisations rush to adopt AI to outpace competitors, many are missing the mark on the ultimate goal: enhancing customer experience.

The hype vs reality of AI in CX

In the last few months alone, the application of AI for better customer experience has seen explosive growth, with technologies like chatbots and knowledge management assistants, powered by Large Language Models becoming ubiquitous. While these innovations offer substantial benefits, there is a growing concern that businesses are focusing too much on the technology itself rather than the end goal of improving customer satisfaction.

Businesses often fall into the trap of selecting AI solutions based on business needs or technical trends rather than customer needs. This misalignment can lead to investments that don’t deliver the expected value. For example, a business might deploy a sophisticated chatbot to handle customer inquiries, but if the chatbot lacks the capability to complete their inquiry in an automated manner, it can lead to frustration rather than improved service.

Move forward by working backwards

To avoid these pitfalls, it’s crucial for businesses to start with the end goal in mind. Businesses should work backwards from what they want to achieve for their customers and then choose the tools and capabilities that will help them reach that objective. What do customers genuinely need? What are their pain points? By understanding these aspects, businesses can select the tools that directly address these issues where some of these may or may not be enhanced with AI. This approach ensures that the technology serves the customer, rather than having the technology for the sake of it.

One effective strategy is to map out the customer lifecycle and identify specific touchpoints where AI can add value. For instance, in the initial stages of customer interaction, AI can be used for highly personalised recommendations based on the customer’s context such as their browsing history or recent transactions and then use the way they respond to those recommendations to determine their next best action.

A crucial mistake businesses can make is neglecting the importance of human involvement in AI-powered customer experiences. While AI can handle a myriad of tasks, from answering frequently asked questions to summarising lengthy blocks of information, it cannot replicate the empathy and nuanced understanding that a human can provide.

Human oversight in AI systems is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures that AI systems remain aligned with ethical standards and customer expectations. Without human input, AI can sometimes make decisions that, while logical, may not be in the best interest of the customer. Not to mention the business impact if organisations aren’t able to justify decisions AI made because of a lack of human judgement in the loop. Secondly, human involvement provides a safety net for handling complex or sensitive issues that AI might not be equipped to manage.

For example, in a customer service setting, while an AI chatbot can handle routine inquiries efficiently, it should have the capability to escalate more complex issues to a human agent. This blend of AI efficiency and human empathy can significantly enhance the customer experience.

When implemented correctly, AI has the potential to transform customer service into a positive and even enjoyable experience. AI can take over repetitive and mundane tasks, freeing up human agents to focus on more complex and engaging interactions. Furthermore, phone conversations between parties can be transcribed to automatically fill out forms for customers, reducing time needed for manual input or used to provide sentiment and context to drive highly relevant real-time next best actions that will be valuable to both the customer and the business.

Embrace AI but don’t forget humans

AI should be seen as an enhancement rather than a replacement. In the race to adopt AI, businesses must not lose sight of the primary goal: improving customer experience. By choosing AI solutions that align with customer needs, maintaining human involvement, and leveraging AI to enhance rather than replace human interactions, businesses can truly revolutionise their customer service. Work backwards from the end goal – a satisfied customer – and let that guide your AI strategy.

By adopting this customer-centric approach, businesses can ensure that their AI investments pay off in the form of happier, more loyal and more valuable customers. AI holds a great potential to transform the customer experience, but it must be implemented thoughtfully, with a clear focus on enhancing the human touch and ultimately delighting customers.

Wilson Ta is principal solutions consultant at Pegasystems.