A customer’s interaction with the brand, product, or service stretches for weeks and months and also involves multiple channels. The customer experience doesn’t start when one makes a purchase; rather it begins as soon as a potential customer gets to know about a brand’s product/services and then googles about it.
Today, focusing on individual customer touchpoints is just not enough. Many organizations have realized that this siloed focus misses the end-to-end customer experience. Take for instance — Insurance. McKinsey Digital Labs examines that although individual touchpoints might be performing, the overall customer experience landscape might be different.
Therefore, brands are now focusing on the entire customer experience journey instead of a sole emphasis on any particular touchpoint.
At the core of enhancing the customer experience journey, lies the AI technology. With Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Advanced Data Analytics, Neural Networks, etc. Let’s explore the impact of AI in enhancing experiences for customers.
What’s the impact of AI on the customer experience journey?
A Microsoft study predicts that by 2025, almost 95% of customer interactions will have AI support. For successful and informed customer experience, apart from presale interactions, organizations have started to look at the entire journey that includes beyond sales experiences.
For instance, NLP-powered chatbots are capable of humanizing conversations with customers. AI seamlessly connects with different user interfaces. In 2018-19, nearly 30% of the google search were voice searches. The capability to correctly decipher different voice accents, languages, sentiments and syntax is impeccable for AI. The upcoming AI-based interfaces will also be equipped with gesture recognition technology and in the near future we’ll be witnessing touch-free or screenless experiences.
Chatbots and AI-based customer service portals are also adaptable to organizations’ workflows, thus providing different levels of automation in customer query resolution. You might have witnessed an automated product return to the refund process in Amazon. Or you might have instantly (in just a few clicks) received a refund when your Uber driver charged you differently from the quoted price.
The impact of AI technology is also seen in collecting and analysing data from different channels of communication. According to the Mantra Labs report, 60% of the executives surveyed believe that integrating multiple channels can improve their customer experience journey across all touchpoints.
The role of AI in powering the customer experience journey for Netflix
Netflix consumer research reported that a typical Netflix member loses interest after 50-60 seconds of choosing/reviewing the show titles. The consumer’s disinterest poses the risk of abandoning the platform completely (and this applies to every digital platform). That’s why Netflix relies heavily on AI technology to track and understand customer interactions, their emotions with the platform, UI design, and, in fact, every micro touchpoint.
If we broadly classify the customer experience journey for an entertainment platform, it will involve customer acquisition, retention, and advocacy. Along this journey, there are several touchpoints. For instance, NetFlix uses AI for customer retention through maintaining/increasing viewership, frequency of logging back in, increase in monthly subscription loyalty, and decrease in subscriber cancellations.
There are hundreds of microservices (small computer programs) that closely work together to deliver an overall experience across the entire customer journey. One of them is automatically optimizing the shows/movies across thousands of varieties of user devices. NetFlix creates and stores the copies of the original show based on streaming quality, device resolution, internet bandwidth, etc. By mapping user, device, and movie information, NetFlix is able to show the right content in the optimized quality to the right user. It also uses CDN Networks to stream the content at the best possible speed.
The next impact of AI in NetFlix’s pursuit of personalization is showing different thumbnails to different users for the same show. NetFlix uses a Machine Learning algorithm to combine the data on the clicking behaviour of other people with similar interests to increase the click-through rates (CTR).
What fuels the customer experience journey?
Mantra Labs report reveals that nearly 50% of executives believe that automated processing can add value to their customer experience journeys. Thus, when the world is embracing digital, a win-strategy for brands is undoubtedly delivering smarter experiences. Some of these are-
- Self-service portals: Gartner predicted that 85% of customer relationships will be managed without human interactions by 2020. Also, a recent Gartner study reports that 9% of customers surveyed are fully satisfied with self-service portals. The preferred channels for query/issue resolution include — phone (44%), chat (17%), email (15%), company website (12%), and search engine (4%).
- Personalization: Among the plethora of choices available, customers seek a recommendation for new products/services from their peers. In the digital era, be it movies, books, music, attire, or appliances, personalized recommendations from search engines has the potential for better conversion. Netflix, for instance, in 2015 reported that personalization and recommendation engines saved over $1 billion to the company.
- Availability: Consider a case when a customer reaches out to a brand, say, for a refund on Saturday evening. The customer experience journey here involves touchpoints like the customer raising a ticket, a representative handling the issue, and finally a refund. But, Saturday evening is off working hours, so probably the customer will have to wait for the next working day for someone to at least address the issue. A brand can enhance this experience for its customers by automated or self-service portals, available 24 X 7.
Having questions regarding the impact of AI and how to leverage AI technology to enhance the customer experience across the integrated touchpoints? Please feel free to write to us. We’re listening to your queries.