Is it worth the

Author: Shane Schick

AI-powered customer engagement can offer a faster and easier way to manage a wide variety of business processes, but it offers another, more important benefit that the most successful organizations are just beginning to realize.

Customers likely will spend more, more often, with companies that offer them the best overall experience, in addition to great products and services. A fundamental way to elevate experiences, however, is by getting a deeper understanding of customers' key problems and needs. AI-powered customer engagement involves a range of technologies that not only help make such learning possible but do so at scale for businesses with thousands or even millions of customers.

As a result, areas like customer service are transforming radically to offer a value that might never have been possible before. 

What AI customer experience improvements can look like

You don't have to be an expert in machine learning, natural language processing or other AI technologies to recognize the potential return on investment this presents. Instead, think through every point in the customer journey where customers want speed, simplicity and quality baked into the experience. Some examples include the following.

Instant access to 24/7 answers

Customers only reach out for help because they don't know how to solve product and service issues on their own. Meanwhile, agents can only handle so many customer requests at a time.

Chatbots can help address both these pain points by using machine learning to identify fixes to frequently asked customer questions. It helps make self-service feel more like what customers experience when they're talking to a well-trained agent, except they can reach out any time, day or night. 

Shorter calls, thanks to the best expertise

Customers want to feel respected and recognized. That not only means avoiding a lengthy wait on the phone, but freedom from having to repeat the same details over and over to different agents.

Instead, AI can offer organizations intelligent routing, where technology acts as a matchmaker between a particular customer and an agent with the experience or familiarity that makes them ideal to provide top-tier support. 

One-to-one assistance and offers

AI can synthesize customer data from a wide range of sources, including account histories, location, social media sentiment and more. In other words, rather than treating every customer interaction as a blank slate, businesses can personalize experiences, so that customers feel they are far more than a number.

This goes beyond simply treating customers as "regulars" in a physical store. When AI customer experience design is implemented well, businesses can create special offers and promotions that are more likely to convert into increased revenue.

Increased trust and credibility

Sometimes, customers aren't sure if they can depend on a company when they make a first-time purchase. When something goes wrong, they reach out and hope for the best.

AI provides businesses with data that helps them react faster before problems occur. They can inform customers of things they should know and demonstrate proactive problem-solving capabilities.

Continuous improvement 

The big difference with AI is not only can it address current customer challenges, but also offers ongoing insights based on customer behavior, so organizations can make ongoing progress in everything they do. This includes how they market themselves, the way they sell, and the kind of service and support they provide.

Next steps

AI's adoption was once limited to organizations that were prepared to develop custom applications and systems they could apply to customer experiences. Not anymore. Today, companies can work with trusted partners that provide AI as a service in a more cost-effective way to meet their unique business needs.

AI-powered customer engagement is not simply about technology, though. It will also require assessing your team's skill sets and determining whether employees need additional training or specialized roles focusing on managing AI-enabled applications. In some cases, the right vendor can complement or build on your internal expertise as well.

Find out more by exploring Verizon's Customer Engagement solutions.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.