How AI Will Shape the Future of Customer Communications
Long gone are the days when responding to a comment was enough. Many businesses are now taking the leap from customer service to being customer-centric, seeing it as the key to thriving even in today’s ever-competitive environment.
However, achieving this goal might not be as easy. Sorting voluminous client communication, extracting the most valuable data, and designing personalization strategies are only a few of the many actions to navigate.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful ally. By 2025, it is predicted to power 95% of all customer interactions. The technology will not only revolutionize how companies directly communicate – but also engage – with their customers in much broader terms.
How will AI transform customer communication strategies in 2021 and beyond?
New value from interactions
To be customer-centric, you need to understand your customers. Yet, many companies still fail to grasp the importance each customer touchpoint has. Even brief contact can uncover invaluable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and demographics.
With the volume of data it can scan, compare, and generate, AI is well-equipped to provide the needed value. After all, it has an arsenal of capabilities at its disposal, including speech to text, Natural Language Processing, sentiment analysis, and predictive analytics. No matter the format – be it a phone call, live chat, an email, or even a social media comment – AI can form patterns about both your customers and processes.
So, whether it’s frequent bottlenecks in your sales cycle or ways to improve training for customer service reps, AI allows you to gain more value from client interactions.
Winning the expectations race
Empowered by data, AI allows you to improve customer experience. In conjunction with CRM systems, it can build up a database for every single customer and target them individually. With hyper-personalized follow-ups, proposals and offerings closely tailored to customer needs, or automated birthday messages, engaging your customers will become easier than ever before.
Eventually, such a level of personalization could even present an end to the traditional marketing segmentation, an extremely complex process of placing customers in certain categories based on their similarities in terms of demographics or other factors.
At the same time, AI can help you match ever-growing customer demands. Through automated responses, it’s possible to outsource the most basic tasks while also delivering better and more consistent answers. Such self-service brings many benefits: IBM estimates that chatbots, for example, can cut down resolution times from 38 hours to under 5.4 minutes for simple, tier 1 queries.
Should the problem be too complex for the virtual agent to tackle, it can hand over the customer to a human agent. Here, the technology should be programmed to seamlessly transfer context to humans without requiring the customer to repeat any information. In the future, AI could even stay in the conversation, both by assisting the human agent with research and to mentor them on the best possible answers.
Multichannel made easy
McKinsey predicted that in the near future, 75% of customers will routinely use multiple channels to contact companies under an omnichannel model. At the same time, they will expect a consistent experience across all these channels, with the ability to switch seamlessly between them. To meet such demands, it’s key to rely on AI to centralize all communications, preserve information, automate manual tasks, and engage rapidly and accurately.
To fortify your multichannel strategy, remember to keep an eye on the latest consumer trends. For example, during the pandemic, the popularity of phone calls has risen significantly. In fact, US carriers have seen a spike of as much as 35%. Based on AI-powered voice recognition technology, you can set up intelligent voice response receptionists to let your clients quickly state the purpose of their call and their expectations right from the start.
To succeed in 2021 and beyond, you should focus on three different aspects: incorporating customer feedback, over-communicating wherever you can, and building a culture of customer success. But know that it’s not enough to adopt AI and sit back to enjoy its work: Constant curiosity and work to improve the algorithms will make sure you’re always moving closer to where your customers need you to be.
About the Author
Eric Schurke is the VP of Operations at Ninja Number, an AI-powered virtual phone system that optimizes calls for businesses, allowing entrepreneurs to manage all their communications on the go. With over 16 years of industry experience, Eric’s leadership has focused on driving customer experiences in the high-touch call center industry, workforce optimization, strategic planning, and driving profitable revenue growth.
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