Making it personal: data, AI and customer experience evolution

Artificial intelligence (AI) has fast become one of the most important tools in delivering an enhanced customer experience (CX). Read on to discover how data and AI can transform CX to deliver memorable, personalized engagements.

It’s been five years since Gartner reported that more than two-thirds of marketers believed their companies competed mostly based on CX. During that time, the world has undergone unprecedented disruption that has fundamentally changed the supplier-customer dynamic. Consumers have become more virtual than physical shoppers, and e-commerce has accordingly thrived. Alongside this shift, customer expectations of the experience they get have changed, too.

What do customers now expect?

The State of the Connected Customer report by Salesforce found that 76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. A further 84% said being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business, and 59% said tailored engagement based on previous interactions is very important to them. The message from consumers is clear: we’re individuals with individual needs and wants, not just names or numbers on a contact center screen.

Personalization and a customized CX have become essential: 91% of consumers told an Accenture study that they are more likely to shop with brands that provide personalized offers and recommendations relevant to them. If your brand offers a good CX, you’re more likely to see revenues grow faster than your competitors who don’t prioritize CX.

Tactics you need to employ

Clearly, it is a business imperative to provide an enhanced, personalized, end-to-end CX. Treat your customers as individuals with personalized experiences, and you’ll reap the rewards. Loyal customers are great to have and difficult to replace: the rule of thumb in business has long been that it costs five times as much to onboard a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Personalization across your channels can increase overall customer spending by up to 500%, and 80% of customers are now more likely to buy from companies that offer personalized CX.

Data is at the heart of this customization and personalization initiative. And AI helps you exploit that data to enhance your operations overall and, by extension, the CX you deliver. For example, using predictive call routing improves CX by examining past customer behavior and preferences to predict what customers need. Here, AI reduces escalation time, gives customers the answers they want faster, and improves overall customer satisfaction.

Improving sales

This type of predictive analytics also extends to increasing sales. Because AI can analyze large amounts of data extremely quickly, you can leverage data, statistics and modeling to make predictions and generate real-time, actionable insights. This can help facilitate a sale using suggestions for related products and accessories, for example. Plus, on top of making it more likely that the customer will buy something else from you, the personalized nature of the CX engagement also strengthens the emotional connection the customer feels for your brand.

Better training

There’s a further personalization benefit that can be had from data and AI in terms of agent training. Training agents at scale is a constant challenge for contact centers, and it’s a key priority for contact center operators. Training employees effectively reduces frustration, increases engagement, improves customer satisfaction and, significantly, reduces costs.

AI can help in this instance by analyzing your agent metrics and customer responses and then recommending specific, on-demand learning that helps enhance agent performance. Using AI tools to analyze data and identify areas where agent performance can improve results can give your CX operation an edge you didn’t know existed. Customers like it: customer sentiment ratings have been shown to increase by 57% among companies using AI in their CX initiatives.

Privacy is critical

It’s also important to remember that you need to balance personalization with privacy. Customers might want greater personalization and a more effective CX as a result; but there is a limit: if your data-gathering and usage become too invasive, it could backfire and potentially increase customer churn. According to Gartner, 50% of customers will unsubscribe, and 38% will stop doing business with a company if they find its personalization tactics to be “creepy.”

Privacy and responsible use of customer data remain a massive factor and not something you should take for granted. If you go about gathering your customers’ data in the right way and commit to transparency at all times, you should find your customers happy to share their data with you. Get it wrong and you’ll face a fight to get them back onside.

A data-driven CX future

In the past two years, improving CX became a top-five initiative for 54% of marketers, with CX budgets increasing by 10% in that time. Using data and AI to enhance CX should become a cyclical process: the better CX you give your customers, the more loyal they become, and the more likely they are to keep sharing data and information with you. A PwC survey found that 63% of consumers will share more information and data with a company that provides great CX. At the same time, one in three shoppers will walk away after a single bad experience. Use data responsibly so that you don’t make that mistake.

Learn more about how Orange can help you leverage the power of data and AI to drive next-level customer experiences.

Steve Harris

I’ve been writing about technology for around 15 years and today focus mainly on all things telecoms - next generation networks, mobile, cloud computing and plenty more. For Futurity Media I am based in the Asia-Pacific region and keep a close eye on all things tech happening in that exciting part of the world.