Voice AI can harness data and make intelligent recommendations, learning and improving from interaction

How to Harness AI Automation to Optimise Customer Experience

Ernest Lee

Marketing and Communications, AI Rudder

When Covid-19 struck, it forced radical changes on businesses around the globe. In response, businesses fast-tracked digital transformation and looked for ways to continue their operations remotely–yet customer experience (CX) continues to lag behind and fall short of excellent, or even good.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development found that the share of e-commerce transactions in global trade surged by 17% in 2020, spurred by the pandemic. This effect has caused companies to accelerate their investment in digital transformation, and according to predictions from IDC, at least half of Asia Pacific’s GDP will be based on or influenced by digital transactions[1] by the end of 2022.

At the same time, customers still expect brands to provide them with personalised service, built on what customers want and how they expect to be treated. This includes how brands should use the vast amounts of data collected from their target users: to serve them better, rather than intrude on their privacy.

What this means is that it will be more challenging than ever to stand out from a competitive and crowded digital market. CX will be the key to differentiate brands from the pack, however, traditional CX models won’t cut it anymore. Businesses’ best bet will be a digital-first strategy that harnesses AI-powered automation and the intelligent use of customer data to deliver empathetic interactions, and to give organisations an edge in CX..

Traditional CX practices can’t keep up

Relying on traditional CX offerings have been proven to slow businesses down. All over the industry, call centre are struggling to keep pace due to higher volumes of customer requests, increasingly complex issue resolution and wider digital adoption. Combined with employee churn from work burnout, the pandemic has created a manpower shortage amidst an influx of customer requests. Today, longer wait times, more dropped calls and human errors are refrains that have become a staple in the service industry–not exactly the formula to satisfy customers and inspire loyalty. 

Another factor to consider is the high costs associated with call centre operations. Setting up and maintaining a call centre involves costs for equipment, space rental and labour, which can contribute up to 80% of company overhead. Scaling up means additional investment in hiring, training and upskilling, while ensuring that basic operations are still addressed.

To mitigate these, businesses are leveraging technologies such as chatbots, virtual assistants and Voice AI to reduce costs, distribute workload and scale to meet demand.

What do customers want? Empathy

On the other hand, customers want brands to understand what they want and give them what they need, but in the omnichannel digital space, delivering empathy at scale can be more challenging. While companies combine technology with their CX offering to cope, customers are wary about how they interact with these technologies, particularly with how their data are processed and used.

Data collection has become prevalent and an absolute must for modern businesses in the online space. It starts from the moment they sign up for an account to shop online, to monitoring their behavioural data through purchase histories and product usage. IDC says that 47% of APEJ companies surveyed see more customer data available due to markets shifting to digital[2]. Customers know this–and they are worried. A survey by KPMG in 2021 revealed that 86% of respondents were concerned about data privacy, while 78% feared the amount of data collected about them.

But while customers may be worried about data and privacy, they paradoxically abhor friction in the CX space. Long wait times, expensive shipping costs, malfunctioning order forms and poor CX will lead them to abandon brands. Customer flight can even be triggered by impersonal or cumbersome technology: a study by Vonage showed that 51% of customers dropped a brand for routing their call to a traditional interactive voice response (IVR) menu.

Build empathetic relationships with customers through AI

How can brands meet customers’ needs, provide personalised and empathetic experiences, while managing costs in a dynamic and crowded marketplace? AI-powered solutions provide smart, efficient and cost-effective answers to common challenges faced by organisations.

Voice AI can handle large volumes of tasks efficiently and simultaneously, enabling you to scale up capacity as needed. This frees up human agents to take on more complex and valuable tasks, which Voice AI routes to them while resolving simpler requests. Voice AI operates 24/7, doing the work of entire teams without associated labour, training and space management costs. Further, Voice AI can be a tool in your CX arsenal to drive consistent customer communications at scale to increase efficiency, improve profitability and reduce overhead costs.

Voice AI capabilities have also grown by leaps and bounds. Developments in the machine learning space, such as contextual awareness technology and natural language processing,  have allowed Voice AI to bring human-like conversations to automated customer interactions. Voice AI tools such as chatbots and digital assistants can further reduce friction in customer interactions, turning these into meaningful and seamless experiences. In fact, Voice AI is already supercharging CX in these three industries:  

  • Banking, insurance and finance: Digital banking and online transactions rapidly increased over the last few years, increasing pressure on customer service channels to service online clients. Voice AI software allowed companies to quickly scale up and meet the demand, without the expense of growing their own CX channels or outsourcing support.
  • Ecommerce and retail: These industries have been at the frontline of omnichannel growth, as customer touchpoints from various sources have generated both large volumes of demand and data. AI solutions help analyse this data to turn them into actionable insights, while automating high-volume services, such as appointment or payment reminders. 
  • Logistics and supply chain: With border controls and movement restrictions brought on by the pandemic, the logistics and supply chain industry was severely impacted, leading to service reductions and customer uncertainty. Voice AI helps mitigate customer concerns, such as in tracking shipments, responding to repetitive queries and rescheduling deliveries.

Lastly, with customer data coming from multiple touchpoints in the CX landscape, organisations are missing a valuable opportunity to use that data to reduce friction in digital interactions. By using AI solutions to break down data siloes, unify sources and analyse them, CX teams can create hyper-personalised experiences for their customers to inspire brand loyalty.

Stand out from the crowd by using AI-based solutions

The market pivot to digital is here to stay. Despite the crowded landscape, the increased competition, and demand from customers, you can continue to deliver. Intelligent automated solutions can help your brand scale up to meet customer needs and provide frictionless customer experiences.

Depending on your critical needs, there are several use cases for Voice AI to address them, from handling high volumes of queries to actually interacting with customers and providing them with meaningful, personal and empathetic experiences.  To find out more about how AI-powered voice automation can transform your own CX offering, download the IDC InfoBrief: Optimizing CX with Automation for a Digital-First World

[1] Source: IDC Worldwide Digital Transformation Predictions 2022 — Asia/Pacific (Excluding Japan) Implications

[2] Source: IDC Future of Customer and Consumer Pulse Survey, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) 2021