Everyone’s talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days. It’s easy for leading brands to see AI as a silver bullet to solve all their Customer Experience (CX) problems. Nothing is that easy. Yes, there are AI success stories – but there are always innovation success stories that prove potential benefits.

Creating powerful customer experiences in the AI era will require a more concerted strategic and tactical effort. AI must be part of your brand’s CX future, and the approach you choose is vital. Here’s part 1 in our series exploring the best ways to leverage AI to improve your brand’s CX.

Start with People, Process, and Technology

Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents a fundamental change in how brands manage customer experiences. What do smart brands do when there is a change? They manage it. Why should AI be any different?

Fundamental business principles like change management, solid data foundations & measurement, strategic roadmap development, and technological understanding apply. Making AI work to drive better customer experiences means ensuring your people (customers and company) are ready for the change, your processes are adapted as needed, and your Martech Stack is ready to handle the load and play nice.

Unfortunately, too many brands use an approach that sacrifices the customer experience rather than improving it. Let’s look at one example of how this might look in the AI era.

Prioritize Quality Over Speed

An established eCommerce brand, enticed by the promise of better customer experiences and higher sales via recommendation, hurriedly implements an AI-driven chatbot that’s all the rage. Without consideration for people, process, and technology, things go wrong. The chatbot misreads customer queries, frustrates customers, and actually produces a decrease in recommendation-based transactions.

The eCommerce brand’s competitor chooses a different path. Before debuting their AI chatbot, they map out a strategy and initiatives with focused effort that includes researching options, reviewing technical requirements, and performing adequate testing prior to launch. The result? The AI chatbot implementation goes smoothly, and the final product appropriately analyzes and forecasts consumer behavior. They realize a staggering uptick in conversions thanks to accurate, tailored product recommendations.

The difference between these two scenarios hinges on readiness, understanding, and alignment. The difference between the two companies doesn’t just come down to Chatbots vs. Product Suggestion engines; it’s about why and how brands deploy these technologies. It’s about maintaining a people-first focus, keeping processes aligned, and readying your technology to support the change.

Remember the Importance of Data in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Era

Data is the very foundation of any Artificial Intelligence (AI) initiative. AI, despite its advanced algorithms and processing capability, relies on data and instruction. Quality and quantity are two inextricable facets of this AI data dependency. For AI to truly flourish, it requires not only a vast expanse of data, but data of impeccable quality collected with the highest levels of trust.

However, in this data-driven age, myriad regulations govern how data is procured, stored, and used. Privacy regulations and laws such as the GDPR and CCPA/CPRA reflect the growing global emphasis on data ethics. When collecting data for AI, organizations must tread carefully to balance utility and compliance. Be careful that your data collection efforts don’t create new problems in other areas; your data must be ready, but you must also follow legal requirements if you wish to respect and build trust with users.

According to research conducted by Forrester, “21% of data and analytics decision-makers cited lack of well curated data to train an AI system as one of their biggest AI challenges.”

Ensure Your Organization is Ready to Leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) applied to Customer Experience (CX) represents a fundamental shift in operations. This change isn’t just a technological shift – it’s also a cultural shift. Teams and individuals might see their roles shift ¬in this AI-augmented landscape. This underscores the significance of adept change management regardless of the innovation at hand. It’s crucial to ensure that these transitions are smooth, but it’s equally important to incorporate understanding, education, and acceptance. AI initiatives must benefit the employee, the organization, and the customer – in other words, every angle of the experience.

A survey from The Marketing AI Institute and Drift “found 91% of marketers saying AI is either critically important, very important, or somewhat important to their marketing success over the next 12 months.” Despite this, “35% of those surveyed for the 2023 State of Marketing AI Report say they’re in the beginner phase of understanding AI terminology and capabilities, 54% say they’re in the intermediate stage and just 11% say they’re advanced.”

Of course, acceptance is a byproduct of understanding. Investment in upskilling and training is paramount. It’s not sufficient for an organization to merely possess AI tools; its workforce must be adept at harnessing them if it expects to reap the benefits.

AI is best thought of as a co-pilot that still requires significant management. As organizations venture into the AI realm, selecting the right partners becomes vital. An AI solution guide must resonate with the company’s ethos, vision, and technological prerequisites to ensure nothing gets lost in translation and projects are delivered successfully.

Make Sure you Build an Adaptive Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy

Given the enthusiasm surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI), as echoed by the Marketing AI Institute, it’s vital to set tangible and measurable outcomes. By defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), organizations can continuously gauge and recalibrate their AI-driven endeavors. The exact strategy will vary from brand to brand, but there are endless niches where AI strategy applies. Check in next month for the next part in this series, where we’ll delve deeper into the considerations and strategies for building an optimal Customer Experience (CX) strategy with the power of AI.

The Importance of Partnerships and Expertise in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Era

AI’s potential to impact customer experiences with your brand is profound. However, this requires so much more than just implementing a piece of technology.

A recent Forbes article put it this way: “The next time you hear about a new technology that promises utopia or dystopia, pause for a moment. Take a step back. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. That’s not boring. It’s our reality—which is just as exciting as our future.”

Harnessing the full potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Customer Experience (CX) lies in understanding, assessing, and aligning. Let each step — understanding AI’s nuances, assessing readiness, defining objectives, integrating strategies, and continuous learning — be deliberate and informed. Few, if any, brands have every aspect of AI for CX covered. It’s too broad and too complex. You’ll need assistance to do this right and ensure your brand thrives in the AI Era.

That’s where BlastX Consulting shines. We’re here to partner with leading brands to guide you through the AI maze and ensure alignment with your CX efforts. Together, we can craft the right AI for CX strategy and ensure you realize the desired value and impact as a result of your investment and efforts.

The AI era will alter the future of CX as we know it. Make sure your brand harnesses that power while evading the pitfalls.