AI for CX: a little more conversation, a little less (in)action – The Drum

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Conversational interactions and experiences will be key to bridging the gap between customers and brands to unlock human connections in a world of AI – here’s why.

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It’s 2002. Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report is playing on the big screen; a window into what at the time seemed to be a dystopian future, where ads would scream out Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton’s name, recognize his face via retinal scan and target relevant messages as he walked through the mall. That was science fiction. 22 years later, that future doesn’t seem so far away.

Facial recognition and biometric tech, artificial intelligence, tailored recommendations – the ability to create real-time personalized and immersive experiences on the fly, is already here. And it’s no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a ’must have’ for making buying journeys more satisfying and effective.

Technology has progressed so much in the last few decades, and even the past year alone, but there’s something to be said for digital innovation working in harmony with the human touch to deliver a powerful way for marketers to deliver the best omnichannel customer experiences in 2024.

From the mass adoption of ChatGPT to the launch of Microsoft’s Copilot, everyone’s talking about AI. But for all the efficiency gains of AI, that alone isn’t enough to cut through the noise. Consumers are still looking for a human connection – someone who can be there to answer their questions and address friction points in the moment they need it.

Two-way street

Enter conversational interactions – which are set to reshape customer interactions across every touchpoint. AI chatbots, virtual assistants and voice-activated devices are becoming essential components of customer service and engagement strategies for brands to shift focus from purely transactional interactions to deeper, more authentic, and meaningful connections that infuse empathy and emotional resonance into brand and customer experiences.

“The problem with chatbots and voice interactions in the past was that they were cumbersome; we had to learn how they understand things and make sure to say the right words,” says Sören Stamer, CEO and co-founder, CoreMedia. “Now they are so good that you can basically say what you want, and the other side starts to figure it out. The interaction that you can just talk to something that then creates value is powerful, because it’s what humans do. Now we can really talk to our systems instead of manually clicking through or dealing with complicated things.”

With more sophisticated technology, customers too are becoming increasingly more sophisticated in their understanding that there’s something on the other side of the AI that understands them and can respond. And 52% of Gen Z consumers say they trust AI to help them make informed decisions.

One click wonder

For businesses, this presents a strong commercial benefit. The 24/7 availability of conversational interfaces offers around-the-clock availability, enabling customers to receive assistance at any time, outside traditional business hours, which can help to boost satisfaction and loyalty.

When research finds that 61% of consumers actually prefer voice assistants for completing simple tasks, there’s a case for brands to adopt these technologies to create highly personalized experiences – instead of coming up against friction points that allow people to fail on a website, for example because they have tried to do something but haven’t been able to get it done. Whereas a simple click to call opportunity that is just one click away can help to drive conversion uplift.

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“Sometimes one little conversation in the right context can solve a problem and can make the difference – by helping the customer achieve their goal,” says Sören Stamer, CEO and co-founder, CoreMedia. “We will see more customer-facing experiences for brands, because now you can create experiences that are conversational to help find the answers that customers are looking for. Suddenly your website becomes smarter because there’s a human that can navigate to the right spot.”

“Brands invest a lot of time and money in lead generation to get people to channels like their website, only to screw up by not providing the information or answers the customer is looking for,” he adds. “A simple ‘can we help you?’ or ‘is there something we can do?’ could be all they need. That is the moment where you really want to offer one click to talk to someone.”

Insight to action

Customers don’t appreciate investing the mental energy needed to figure it out for themselves; they want brands to take the burden away and provide a simple solution. Conversational interactions can do that. “Blending everything that’s available online with the personal interaction that someone can help creates a much more synchronized experience,” says Stamer.

By simply providing tailored recommendations, quick answers and assistance, based on individual customer data, brands have an opportunity to revolutionize customer interactions – but it’s one thing to have the data, another to have the technology to be able to do it seamlessly.

“Brands make a lot of investment into a lot of systems – and it’s not that they don’t have the good data about their customers, but what they lack is sometimes the right set up to turn that insight into action,” says Stamer. “The truth is, it’s complicated, but we have to support brands to unburden them with better systems to bring these two things together.”

In 2024, the customer experience will be defined by conversational solutions. Those that will get ahead will embrace individual customer data to customize chatbots, offer tailored recommendations, product information and human support that is easily accessible – across website, mobile apps and social media platforms. The future might not be Minority Report but it will be the harmonious coexistence of digital and the human touch.

To help companies address the rising need for conversational solutions, CoreMedia extended its CMS and DXP offerings with a Cloud Contact Center to facilitate automated personalized conversations with a human touch, from one single platform. Get a demo to learn more.

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