3 trends that will shape CX In 2019
AI as a means of shaping customer experience or CX is no longer the future. It’s already here and growing.
Even though Siri debuted on the iPhone in late 2011, today many of us regularly use AI-driven tools such as virtual assistants, chatbots, and smart speakers for activities from listening to music to creating our shopping list.
The market for chatbots, according to Grand View Research, will expand at 24% compound annual growth rate through 2025, while the equivalent of one in six Americans now own a smart speaker, according to findings from NPR and Edison Research. According to Gartner, 89% of companies expect to compete on the basis of CX in the next 2 years and 25% of customer service operations will use chatbots by 2020.
Is it inevitable that this march of AI will continue? It's important to take a fine-grained look at how AI technologies including chatbots will evolve to better serve customers. It’s not all about hyper-growth of technology and replacement of human decision making.
Here are 3 ways that AI will shape CX in 2019:
- Humans will still play a role in customer service. AI can’t replace you. Yes, there will be rapid growth for chatbots, but there could be customer pushback on organizations whose chatbots or AI-driven virtual assistants fail to streamline interactions, resolve issues, and match customers to the ideal solutions. Chatbots and other AI-driven apps that aren’t well connected to key sources of enterprise or market knowledge can’t ensure optimal CX on their own. They become an island of automation that might only answer a few narrow questions, but leave customers frustrated if they don’t sync with the processes that people use to deliver on actual sales and services. It’s notable that in its CX predictions for 2019, Forrester Research foresees “community-based revolt” against ineffective chatbots. Additionally, Forrester warns that 2019 will see many chatbots that provide “poor escalation paths” to human agents. The remedy here, is to find a way to keep the data chatbots leverage in synch with human processes and knowledge.
- Chatbots will grow faster in 2019. Almost every analyst study of chatbots and other AI-driven tech looks similar to the handle of a hockey stick right now. Double digit growth is expected, as companies look for ways to cost efficiently answer routine customer questions and match customers with products, services, or advice. Rapid chatbot growth is inevitable since younger generations are mobile-first consumers and tend to use popular messaging apps rather than email to communicate. Think of mobile and messaging as a natural habitat for chatbots. Indeed, the whole notion on-demand CX is intertwined with the use of chatbots from within messaging environments. In short, expect rapid chatbot growth in 2019, but also a trend toward chatbots that deliver instant CX impact – using a single source of truth.
- On-demand CX has to be flawless. If a chatbot is deployed within a messaging platform, it absolutely must lead customers to the right conclusion, otherwise it becomes a dead end. Unlike chatbots used within websites or mobile apps, where there can be other sources of information readily available, a chatbot that springs from within a popular messaging platform needs to be able to lead consumers or customers to correct, valid outcomes on its own. If a chatbot fails to answer or advise a customer correctly, the customer will move on. To be flawless, chatbots and other AI-driven apps need to be in sync with the overall knowledge base that drives consistent presentation of information across the omni-channels. Many of us have anecdotes about oddball, AI responses to questions posed to virtual assistants or chatbots. If AI isn’t connected to broader knowledge and context, it may well serve up the wrong response—sometimes funny, but often just frustrating.
All this said, AI is well suited to the type of instant, real-time interactions demanded by today’s mobile, digital consumers. That’s why in 2019 chatbots and other vehicles for AI will have a big year. But to be effective, AI needs to blend with human-led processes and consistent content to deliver the best CX possible.