Optimizing Customer Experience with AI

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Delivering an exceptional customer experience remains one of the most important differentiators for businesses today. Because we now live in a 24/7, 365 days a year on-demand world, companies are turning to AI and machine learning (ML) to step in and automate repetitive tasks and alleviate mundane functions which allows them to build better relationships with customers and focus on tackling more complex customer conversations. But for AI to introduce new value and break new ground, strategists must take an innovative approach to CX and consider its impact beyond its novelty.

Mr Ajit Rao, Former Executive Director - Brand & Customer Experience, Nielson with over 25+ years of experience in Market Research & Marketing across a wide range of sectors, including retail, hospitality, banking & insurance, CPG, Telecom and B2B talks about the key trends in Customer Experience this year and how companies can be best prepared to handle the new wave of AI driven Customer experience management.

 
Ajit Rao,
Champion in CX Research, Former Executive Director - Brand & Customer Experience, Nielson

 

“There will be greater focus on “optimizing customer experience” compared to “maximizing customer experience”. AI and machine learning technologies can make all of this happen and hence will become the game changer for organizations”  

 

1) What key trends do you anticipate for Customer Experience in 2018?

The year 2018 is going to witness a boom in the use of AL and ML to enhance CX. One has already seen the likes of Siri and chatbots. There will also be an increasing focus on unstructured data being integrated into structured data to generate actionable insights. Also given the vast number of brands in any category there will be a greater focus on differentiation and experiences will be aligned to enhance the differentiation

2) What are the biggest challenges for organisations today that might be hampering their CX journey?

There are several challenges facing organizations. The silos within an organization need to be broken to ensure faster and more effective responses to market changes. In this context, more organizations will create a “Chief Customer Officer” roles. Most organizations will start using data to make decisions and hence accountability of managers will go up more as compared to the past. Today there is a wide range of technologies available to an organization and making all of them work cohesively in the same direction will be another big challenge.

3) What changes do you expect to see in how Customer Experience is managed in companies?

Firstly, accountability for spends on customer experience initiatives will increase which means there will be a greater focus on “optimizing customer experience” compared to “maximizing customer experience”. And more importantly, measuring and tracking CX on an on-going basis will become inherent to organizations. Experience is all about “in the moment” hence real-time experience measurement will become the norm

4) How will AI lead the forefront in delivering better results for customer driven organizations?

Given the emphasis on accountability, there will be greater focus on use of data for decision making, a greater focus on productivity, speed of response to customers and increased effectiveness of decision making. This will require robust technology since there will be a fair amount of integration of different sources of data like – operational data, customer data, survey data, and social media data and so on.

AI and machine learning technologies can make all of this happen and hence will become the game changer for organizations who want to stay ahead of competition. Whether it’s integrating back-end CRM, enhancing commerce, personalizing experiences, introducing new touch points, predicting behaviour, trends and expectations- using AI tools and platforms to manage , measure and extract actionable information at the right time would be the key to a successful AI powered CX strategy

5) What advice would you give to CX organizations starting their AI journey?

Firstly organizations need to have a clear vision of customer experience. This is fundamental. There has to be clear metrics that reflect  if the organization is aligned to its vision or deviating from it - and this vision needs to be translated into customer strategies, technologies required, analytics, systems and processes, the organization culture etc. Some organizations like Amazon, Apple and Starbucks reflect this approach quite well.

Secondly, they need to understand that AI is not a bolt-on solution or a cure-all. But it is definitely an opportunity to streamline and simplify business processes across different siloes, which can significantly reduce costs and improve customer experience. Thus, when applying any AI strategy, businesses need to make sure that they understand the limitations and be transparent to their employees as well as customers.

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