The role of Artificial Intelligence in customer engagement

06 Jun 2017

  • Customer experience
  • Innovation
  • Technology

By Alicia Tan, Managing Editor, ADMA (on behalf of Pegasystems)

Two decades ago, when we first heard about Artificial Intelligence (AI), it seemed like a concept so foreign and far off that people shruged it off as a Terminator thing that only happened in Hollywood films. Fast forward to 2017, and it seems like every other industry is being disrupted by new technology, especially AI.

So while AI is not exactly new, advancement and better understanding of the technology, has opened up new doors for businesses to engage their customers. But before you delve right into the whole AI hype, it’s important to understand how your customers feel about AI.

According to a recent global study carried out by customer engagement software, Pegasystems, customers are still evenly split over how they feel. Statistically, over a third of those surveyed said they were comfortable with AI used by businesses, one-third say they weren’t and the rest were on the fence. The common reasoning for being resistant towards AI is attributed to deep-rooted fears about machines taking over the human race and a preference for human interaction over faceless machine.

What consumers really think about AI

But fret not, this does not necessarily spell the end of integrating AI into your business. In fact, it’s worth noting the massive opportunity for organisations to take advantage of the technology boom and demystify AI, so that the strategy will work for their customers. This is where businesses can set themselves apart by providing great customer experience.

We all have to start somewhere…

A good starting point would be for organisations to be transparent when using AI. Pegasystems’ ‘What Consumers Really Think About AI: A Global Study’ also noted that the business must be clear on how AI will benefit customer experience and should provide customers with information on the guardrails it has in place to safeguard consumer privacy. The biggest takeaway for businesses is trust: if you wouldn’t trust an organisation’s AI strategy with your data, then don’t expect your customers to do so.

When it comes to the trusted industries, online retailers with personalised recommendations came out on top followed by healthcare and telecommunications. At the bottom of the list is the government, insurance companies and car dealers. Making sure that your AI systems and strategies are up to task is not a responsibility that lies solely in the technology departments. Customer Service, sales and marketing will also need to align their strategies so that what they have to offer is unique to the business.

The way of the future

Needless to say, it’s no longer an excuse for businesses to feign ignorance or plead lack of knowledge when adopting AI. The sooner we come around to the idea, the better the customer experience. As suggested in Pegasystems’ study, a ‘human first’ approach will ensure AI will lead to high customer engagements. In order to get there, business strategies should include:
- Engaging customers with insights that are conversational, contextual and can be adjusted according to the situation to respond in real-time
- Equipping human employees with the intelligent guidance of AI so customer service is truly personalised
- Empowering customers who want to have a handle on their own affairs with intelligent guidance and support when needed.

When done right, AI can become a powerhouse tool that will lead to increased customer loyalty and bottom-line results. While there is yet to be hard and fast rules on nailing an AI strategy, businesses are on the right track as long as they aim their AI systems at the outcomes they want to achieve while having fluidity for employees to tweak things to make them work; ensure that the AI experience is consistent and aligns with different departments; and connect insight with action because the former alone is not enough.

Get the full report of Pegasystem’s ‘What Consumers Really Think About AI: A Global Study’ here.

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