How AI is transforming the future of CX

A representative abstraction of artificial intelligence
(Image credit: Shutterstock / vs148)

Our jobs have a major impact on our lives, affecting not only our financial and social status, but our overall wellbeing too. That’s why job satisfaction is so important. In fact, according to a recent study by PwC, workers rank having a fulfilling job as the second most important factor (after pay) when considering a change in work environment. And while job satisfaction looks different for everyone, personally speaking I can’t think of many roles more rewarding than making customers happy.

Yet, for a long time, many customer experience (CX) agents have found that red tape, bureaucracy, and inefficient systems have often got in the way of them doing the work that most motivates them—dealing directly with customers and helping solve their queries. Now, artificial intelligence (AI) could be about to change that.

Matthias Göehler

Matthias Göehler is Chief Technology Officer for EMEA at Zendesk.

A valuable tool for CX agents

AI can serve to support CX agents in a variety of ways. One example is identifying complex tasks that require humans to deal with, while automatically solving more straightforward ones using personalized, industry-specific, accurate responses. As well as lightening agents' task load, these responses can be valuable in helping them reply faster and with the right context if called upon further down the line.

Then there’s the benefit of combining intent detection, language detection, and sentiment analysis, so CX agents can have their workflows classified for them, enabling them to better understand their customers' needs and focus on the most pressing queries first. We call this intelligent triage. It leads to faster resolutions and, ultimately, greater profitability and loyalty for businesses.

Other AI powered tools that can help agents improve the way they handle customer interactions include response rephrasing and tone shift, which help them craft clearer and more thoughtful responses. This, in turn, helps reduce the number of times they have to go back to continue the conversation.

Better for customers too

It's not just businesses and agents who can benefit from AI. According to the Zendesk CX Trends 2023 Report, customers have high expectations for how the technology can improve their experiences too.

Already, we're seeing conversational commerce begin to make shopping a more frictionless and personalized experience than ever by allowing customers to interact with companies however and wherever they want throughout their digital CX journey.

Meanwhile, for businesses, this carries the added bonus of letting them spot and remove common drop-off points in the sales funnel while identifying new revenue opportunities based on a shopper’s complete purchase history. They can then use AI to automate conversions and recommendations.

Perhaps most excitingly, the capabilities of AI are only going to get better. As the technology learns more about the people it’s serving (both agents and customers) and the datasets used to train it expand, it has the potential to do far more than simply respond to customers. Instead, AI can start to proactively pre-empt what they might need.

A safe pair of hands

There's no doubt that AI can and should have a transformative impact on CX. Yet businesses must be cautious too. The pace of innovation is moving quickly, so it's vital firms fully understand how to use AI tools responsibly and ethically before deploying them. In particular, this means being transparent about how and when they are using chatbots and generative AI to communicate with customers while also taking steps to assure them that their data is safe and protected.AI has the potential to be game changing, but focusing on such a key aspect of the technology will be crucial to its success.

Likewise, firms must recognize that not all AI solutions are the same and are therefore likely to work more effectively in certain situations than others. A general rule of thumb, though, is that AI should give a turbo boost to the great work the organization already does; if it causes more problems than it solves, some tweaks may be required.

Crucially, we shouldn’t be setting out to reinvent the wheel here. AI is a tool that's most effectively used in the hands of the people who have always been best equipped to provide great service—the trained CX staff that customers value.

Sure, the way that service is delivered might be evolving from a practical standpoint, but the ethos underpinning it remains unchanged. Customers appreciate friendly, human-centric experiences that give them what they need quickly, honestly, and effectively. And the happier they are, the happier and more fulfilled the agents delivering those experiences will be too.

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Matthias Göehler is Chief Technology Officer for EMEA at Zendesk.