Coronavirus Prompting Companies to Adopt AI in Customer Experience

By Monica Kohn   |   April 6, 2020
ai in customer experience
Not so long ago, it was predicted that by 2025, as many as 95% of all customer interactions would be through channels supported by AI technology. Now, as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, it’s disrupting businesses and causing an unprecedented uptick in call center inquiries. That’s left many businesses scrambling to learn all they can about AI call center solutions that can help them meet customer demand for information.

How to Improve Your Call Center Customer Experience Strategy

The good news is that customers have already taken the lead in automated service experiences with over 80% of them opting to first try taking care of an issue themselves before contacting a live agent. While there will always be a need for human interaction in call centers, COVID-19 has made it necessary to accelerate implementing AI-powered contact center operations.

Before the current health crisis, giving customers the option to use AI was a response to their increasing demand for digital convenience. Now, an AI-driven customer experience strategy must be viewed as the primary way of conducting business for the foreseeable future as face-to-face interactions decrease.

In addition to enabling self-service, businesses can reimagine customer engagement by:

  • Accelerating the shift to digital. With entire workforces now working remotely, products, services, and policies must shift and change to meet the new reality that’s been thrust on all types of businesses. Those organizations that have yet to undergo digital transformation must now catch up, abandoning legacy systems and siloed approaches that will hold them back.
  • Transitioning to remote work. Hand-in-hand with digital transformation, remote work is a direct by-product of social distancing mandates. Post-pandemic, more workers will likely look for positions that allow them to work remotely. Looking ahead, a concept that was once considered employee empowerment will now be seen as business empowerment, too. How does this relate to customer experience? As organizations transition more employees to remote work, they should ensure customers don’t feel any impact from it.
  • Centralizing and unifying knowledge bases. A single source of truth for all employees and customers means everyone has access to the same information and content. A centralized data repository allows customers and employees alike to access up-to-the-minute, consistent information.

AI in Customer Experience

AI service solutions not only help your customers get relevant information more quickly, but they also help you get a faster, real-time understanding of what makes your customers tick. These valuable customer experience tools include:

  • Virtual assistants for automated customer service
  • Agent-facing bots that provide things like faster searches and quick-reply templates
  • Automated routing for streamlined issue handling

AI-based collaboration and engagement tools also support employee engagement and productivity by letting workers collaborate remotely while engaging with customers without missing a beat. The common denominator in successfully integrating AI in the customer experience with a strong AI-driven knowledge base.

Building an AI Knowledge Base

A knowledge-based system in AI has already been found to be critical to developing a robust call center strategy. It helps agents work better and smarter and supports them in developing a more personalized and empathic approach to customer service. From a business perspective, a well-curated knowledge base can result in a 25% reduction in operational costs.

Knowledge base software helps your organization take diverse sets of data and turn them into singular “personas” that understand, remember, and respond to your customers’ preferences and needs in a meaningful way. At a time when a global health crisis is upending normal business operations across all industries, a sophisticated AI knowledge base and analytics platform can provide solutions that allow you to solve customer problems while complying with social distancing measures and protecting employee health and safety.

The Bottom Line

Keynote speaker and consultant Dan Gingiss recently aired a special episode of his Experience This! podcast addressing the impact COVID-19 is already having on the customer experience. His message? These are serious times and no one knows for sure where things are headed, but “while the world is filled with uncertainty, one thing remains clear today—as it has always been: people who take care of their customers and employees during a crisis will have customers and employees when things get better (which in time, they certainly will).”

Businesses that merely limit in-person interactions without providing digital alternatives will only end up frustrating customers (and employees). Implementing AI-based digital solutions enables your organization to continue serving its customers when they need it most—and they will reward you for it once this crisis has passed.