This article was written as part of the SEMrush Big Blogging Contest

How would you define exceptional customer experience (CX)?
Does it mean…
…Offering a product that your customers’ need but don’t know yet?
…Providing a zero-click, omnichannel online experience?
…Knowing what clicks, what ticks and what makes your customers loyal?

An ideal definition of exclusive CX would answer all these questions positively.

The three pillars facilitating customer experience include artificial intelligence (AI), big data-driven marketing and predictive analytics. Acting as interventions offering constructive disruption, these unprecedented innovations are the ‘deus ex machina’ in the customer journey’s saga, enabling brands to determine…
…The story of the customer’s journey
…The buyer persona of each individual customer
…The revenue opportunities that are hidden along this road

Acknowledging the Impact of Big Data on Customer Experience

IDC estimates that by 2020, the amount of big data will accumulate to approximately 44 zettabytes, that’s 44 trillion gigabytes!

Leveraging this huge volume of data is a progressive step towards understanding customers. To truly deliver exceptional CX it requires knowing your customer, dissecting their behavior mapping their preferences and tapping their interests.

It’s ‘data, data, data’ that lays the bricks for a stage on which the character sketch of each customer can be defined. Attaining this level of detail is possible only by analyzing data and transforming it into data-driven strategies.

Finding Patterns in Unstructured Data Using Artificial Intelligence

Like chaos theory, where it is about finding underlying patterns in what seems like random data, AI technology uses machine learning to derive patterns from unstructured data. Natural Language Processing (NLP), Natural Language Understanding (NLU), and Natural Language ExecutionTM(NLE)*revolve around deducing narratives and emulating natural language to enable the AI platform process inputs.

What artificial intelligence technology does is it gets into the breadth and depth of customer interaction, engagement, and relationships. It breaks it down into snackable chunks, allowing you to create customer groups that feature shared beliefs, values, interests, emotions, lifestyles and purchasing psychology.

To realize the ROI of your AI investments, one of the primary factors is utilizing skilled resources to effectively adopt and implement such technology. Chief data officers (CDOs), chief analytics officers (CAOs), or data scientists, call them what you may, they play an important role in deciphering the patterns in unstructured data and deriving actionable insights. What AI technology has gifted data experts is a first-rate tool that augments their efforts in structuring, analyzing and churning big data into meaningful, data-driven understanding of customers.

For further reading, here are “4 Ways AI is Changing the Landscape of Content Marketing – and What It Means For You“

Imbibing Customer Experience in the Customer’s Life Cycle with Customer-Centricity

In this era of digitally empowered customers, revolving strategies around customer-centricity has become the norm. While it ultimately may be about conversion, it’s about giving that experience throughout the customer’s lifecycle, not just before a customer purchases a product/service, but after-sales service as well.

Pre-purchase experience– You can leverage digital touchpoints such as the web, via mobile, online campaigns, offers and promotions to enhance the pre-purchase experience.
Post-purchase experience – You can improve the post-purchase experience through touchpoints which typically include payments, customer service, online customer support, technical support, and product queries.

While the underlying objective would be about converting data to dollars, to keep the show running, CX is what drives customer retention, satisfaction, and loyalty. By maintaining high-quality customer experience, it also helps you to cross-sell and upsell effectively when the opportunities arise.

Now that you have a sneak peek into what happens behind the scenes, let’s delve further into specifics of how artificial intelligence can actually enrich the customer experience.

5 Ways Artificial Intelligence (AI) Enriches Customer Experience (CX)

1.SMART DISCOVERY - Providing Instant Access to Information

Customers lack patience and want instant access to information. If they do not find it on your website they move on to the next brand, it’s as simple as that. Would you want your customer to browse through pages of FAQs or would you prefer them to get information in real-time?

What we call Smart Discovery, is a solution that ensures the knowledge-base of the AI platform is powered with information from various sources such as public information, websites, and any other specific information provided by the client. Moreover, the AI platform is also designed to understand the context and intent of customer queries using machine learning and NLP to provide responses in real-time.

By using artificial intelligence, the induction time of frontline staff is reduced. The churn rate which was earlier around 6 to 8 months, with the deployment of AI agents, is now close to 3 months. Additionally, the AI platform is built not only to be customer-facing, there are also employee-facing bots that can be deployed. By providing support for the frontline staff to handle queries in real-time the response rates and customer experience can be significantly improved.

2. SMART TRANSACTION - Ensuring a Seamless, Omni-Channel Experience

When customers transact online, they expect it to be a seamless, omnichannel experience. They expect continuity of conversations across channels and a friction-less transition between AI bots and human agents. Artificial intelligence has advanced to a level that it is able to be intuitive and instinctive, enabling it to respond reactively and proactively.

•Instinctive Reactive Experiences – Intelligent AI agents are designed to react to customer queries in real-time. Not only do they ensure seamless interaction across channels, AI bots process and resolve queries in real-time. With features such as a Smart Reminder, AI bots can suggest setting up reminders for recurring transactions. Just like a personal assistant. For instance, when assisting a customer make a transfer to a family member, an AI chatbot can suggest the user to set up a reminder to automate the transaction if required.

Intuitive Proactive Experiences – Smart AI agents are designed to observe and capitalize on customer behavior to address their queries proactively (without being asked). For instance, if they notice a customer searching for specific information on a webpage, AI chatbots can proactively initiate a conversation across channels and offer assistance, while deciphering whether there is an opportunity to upsell and cross-sell.

3.INTELLIGENT NAVIGATION - Facilitating a Zero-Click Experience

Achieving one-click experiences is a benchmark of the past. Customers now expect a zero-click experience. Artificial intelligence makes this possible with platforms that are designed to map customer behavior and preferences to provide tailor-made experiences.

User drop off rates has particularly been high during form fills. What AI voice bots and chatbots do is that they hand-hold customers through form fills using voice and text guidance. In this way, not only does the bot make it easier for the customer, it ensures the form is filled completely. Moreover, when a customer drops off, the AI bot uses all relevant channels (social media, SMS, IVR call follow up) to remind the user about the interaction.

Intelligent Navigation using AI has taken CX to the next level by providing:

• User-Friendly Navigation – From one-click to zero-click online experience
• Seamless Online Experience – From text to voice guidance and vice versa
• Omni-Channel Interaction – From phone chat to web-based text chat to voice chat to IVR to human agent conversation.

4.SMART RECOMMENDATIONS - Providing Strategic Suggestions Benefiting Customers

AI technology has the ability to offer customers what they need before they know they need it. Conversational AI bots are designed to learn from every interaction and get smarter with every conversation. Using artificial neural networks and ‘deep learning’, AI bots learn to imitate the functions of the human brain and perform predictive analytics to provide smart recommendations to customers. Here are some of the features of the Smart Recommendation solution, you’d be amazed what an AI bot can be taught to do…

• Smart Budgeting / Alerts – For customers who have set a budget, an alert can be sent to customers when they overspend.
Smart Suggestions – Based on financial transactions and online spending, suggestions on how to save money (not spend) can be provided.
Smart Goal Setting – Based on typical monthly expenses, goals can be set (buying a car, buying a home) and money could be automatically set aside to achieve that goal. In such conversations, an intelligent AI bot will also identify the opportunity to promote, upsell or cross-sell products (applying for a car or home loan).

5. AI-POWERED ANALYTICS - Mapping the Customer Journey to Tap Insights

We earlier spoke of how AI technology helps in breaking down data into digestible chunks and creating customer groups. With AI-powered analytics it has become possible to map customer behavior, preferences and insights to ensure customer-centric strategies result in exceptional CX. Here’s a gist of what AI-powered analytics can map about customers:

• What they do – Using AI technology, customer behavior can be mapped in detail. Their activities that suggest interest, their behavior that indicates assistance, or their actions which may indicate churn.
• How they do it – AI platforms can be designed to provide an omnichannel experience. They can map the channels available and used by customers and can guide them through channels seamlessly without friction.
• What they want – AI technology can identify customer preferences such as the channels through which they prefer to interact, communicate and transact. They can also map preferences of customers about the channels they prefer for different activities, such as phone chat for queries, web app for transactions, and voice chat for filling forms. Connecting with customers through relevant touchpoints enhances CX.
• What can be offered – Insights from AI-powered analytics can provide business opportunities that not only help to upsell and cross-sell, they also provide customers with offers that they need, but did not know about.

Instilling an “AI-First Culture” to Enrich CX

Be the master, not the janitor of the technology you use.
The beauty of AI technology is that it’s up to you to make it work for you. In this era of customer-centricity, imbibing an “AI first culture” would give you leverage, just for the fact that it gives you the precise pulse of your customer like it is your own.

Using AI-powered technology to enrich customer experience (CX) is about data-driven insights and customer-centric strategies….
…It is not about transferring customer data dumps, it is about translating data into actionable insights
…It is not about manipulating customer behavior, it is about delivering an experience that exceeds expectations
…It is not about using AI to only imitate human behavior, it is about using AI to delve into the depths of your customer’s world.

Welcome to the world of AI-powered, data-driven customer centricity!