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How to Develop Your AI Strategy Today as a Customer Experience Leader

Why Customer Experience Leaders Need to Develop an AI Strategy Today (Even if You’re Not Ready)

Artificial intelligence is so ingrained in our daily lives that it’s now unavoidable — and evolving rapidly!

As customer experience leaders, it’s our responsibility to learn how we can apply AI to transform our customer experiences. It’s time to test AI’s limits, see what it’s good at doing, and find out where it falls short.

(We know you might not feel ready. The secret is that very few leaders do. Take one step at a time and don’t be afraid to try things.)

Of course, many of us are still early in our AI adoption journey, and we have plenty of other priorities. To succeed with AI, we need to know just enough about what’s happening, how we can get the best results, and how to protect our customers’ trust.

To help you start or fine-tune your AI strategy, let’s explore the main things customer experience leaders need to know about AI and its close companion generative AI.

What Are Artificial Intelligence and Generative AI?

First: A few definitions and clarifications.

Artificial intelligence is the ability of machines to exhibit human-like intelligence. It involves a few areas, such as machine learning, neural networks, and natural language processing. Those enable programs to analyze data sets, recognize patterns, and deliver outputs we can understand.

AI is nothing new. The concept has been around since the 1950s, including a program that could play checkers. Modern AI is lightspeeds faster and more capable than before… and it’s skilled at more than just checkers.

Generative AI builds on traditional AI to deliver outputs in many forms, including text, audio, video, and image. Unlike traditional AI, which excels at pattern recognition, generative AI excels at generating outputs from its source material. Generative AI can create summaries, transcripts, analyses, and more.

AI Needs a Human Touch

It’s understandable if you feel concerned about AI replacing human jobs. Unfortunately, this is somewhat true: AI will replace some work, primarily in fields that involve repetitive data entry tasks or large volumes of data analysis.

However, AI output will continue to demand human oversight. In creative fields, AI is far from being able to replace writers who write well. And I’m confident that customer experience change makers will always be vital for championing our customers and their uniquely human needs.

AI helps us do things faster and more accurately. Think of AI as a powerful tool that frees up your time so you can focus on where it matters.

Ideally, organizations can create new jobs or support different areas thanks to the savings delivered by AI. Organizations can also invest in reskilling and upskilling so the workforce can adapt to new opportunities and potentials.

Why Every CX Leader Needs to Understand (And Have a Basic Strategy About) AI

Understanding AI is not just about keeping pace with technology; it’s about leading the charge in innovation and personalization and advocating for customers at the same time.

There are many reasons why it’s now essential to create an AI strategy:

  • Strategic AI Investment: Your organization likely considers it a high priority to integrate AI into its strategy today. Most organizations see the potential AI has to enhance efficiency and streamline operations. Looking at customer experience, businesses are focusing on providing customers with round-the-clock support, swift problem resolution, and tailored recommendations. CX leaders need to understand and make a strong business case for the best ways to leverage AI in customer experiences.
  • Building Intelligent Experience Machines: AI strategy lies in developing intelligent ways to collect, react, and use the right data at the right times. Some more sophisticated systems will use AI to orchestrate high-quality, end-to-end customer experiences, powered by rich customer data. Eventually, the right data combined with the right intelligence will be the backbone for delivering personalization at an unprecedented scale, transforming the customer journey.
  • Balancing Self-Service with Human Interaction: In our quest for convenience, we must strike a delicate balance between AI-driven self-service and the irreplaceable value of human interaction. AI personalizes the customer experience by creating proactive offers and predicting service needs, seamlessly connecting consumers with what they need and want through their preferred channels. Yet, there are still challenges in unifying data across channels and systems.

AI technologies are not mere tools; they are the dynamic architects of customer journeys , reshaping how we understand and respond to our customers’ needs.

How AI Shapes the Customer Journey

Generative AI is already reshaping how customers and organizations interact, learn from and about one another, and plan next steps.

Today, you probably have some experience interacting with AI in your customer journeys, both as a CX leader and a customer yourself! I bet you can relate to these points of interaction:

  • Hyper-Personalization: This is not just about addressing customers by their names but understanding their unique preferences at a granular level. AI analyzes individual purchase history, browsing behavior, and social media activity to craft experiences that resonate on a one-to-one level.
  • Streamlined Interactions with Chatbots: Our customer support AI chatbots are revolutionizing the way we handle routine queries. They provide timely information, guide customers through their journey, and improve response times, which not only enhances customer satisfaction but also can potentially reduce operational costs.
  • Predictive Analytics and Sentiment Analysis: AI algorithms can sift through vast amounts of customer data. This allows us to identify patterns and trends, anticipate needs, and tailor our offerings. Sentiment analysis grants us a window into the emotional landscape of our customers, giving us the ability to discern their opinions and attitudes and find specific pain points to address. Retail brands have used sentiment analysis to identify potential incoming complaints quickly. AI can sort through user reviews and messages as an “early warning system” of sorts.

Getting Started with AI for CX

There are likely many areas across your customer journey where AI could improve the experience. Start a list where you can write down all your ideas as they come to you during the work day.

Any successful AI implementation requires you to have a clear purpose and measurable goal. What do you intend AI to accomplish? How can you measure its success compared to before? What is a fairly “safe” place to test before you take on bigger tasks?

AI is best suited in areas where it can deliver considerable time savings or improve accuracy. In addition to the examples I shared earlier:

  • Audio Transcription: Use AI to transcribe audio content and extract insights from the content or repurpose it for new forms.
  • Brand Monitoring: Monitor for brand mentions and conversations across social media channels and online communities. It’s a great way to listen for untold feedback from customers !
  • Create Support Content: Aggregate customer support conversations and how-to resources to create new customer help guides. Let AI create a base copy of each asset that you can refine, customize, and share with customers when they need it.

You could also assess specific programs or teams to see where AI could be most helpful. Your Voice of the Customer (VoC) Program , for example, is ripe with opportunities for AI.

The journey toward AI-enhanced customer experience is ongoing and dynamic. To truly leverage AI, we must address key considerations such as pinpointing specific problems AI can solve, ensuring data structure and accessibility, navigating AI bias, and upholding ethical standards.

Start small and be calculated about where and when you apply AI. Frequently check in with your implementation and ask your team about unforeseen risks or issues. As you prove your results, introduce AI in another area.

This strategic approach will enable us to harness AI’s full potential, ensuring that our brand remains at the forefront of delivering innovative and personalized customer experiences.

Transform Your Employee and Customer Experiences with AI

AI is not just a behind-the-scenes player; it is now a front-line ally to employees, equipping them with the knowledge to deliver exceptional service proactively. It’s a partnership where AI-powered automation and human ingenuity lean on one another to create better customer experiences, available 24/7.

This is a paradigm shift in personalization, support efficiency, and the overall customer journey. These advancements are not just about staying ahead of the curve; they are about redefining the curve and setting new standards for what it means to truly know and serve our customers.

If you’re facing a challenge building AI into your CX strategy, I’m here to help. Tell me a specific problem you’ve encountered by leaving me a voicemail here , and I can help on an upcoming episode of the Experience Action podcast.

If you need more hands-on support, let’s start a conversation today .


About Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CSP

Jeannie Walters CCXP CSP small square photoJeannie is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker, and sought-after business coach who is trailblazing the movement from “Reactive Customer Service” to “Proactive Customer and Employee Experience.” More than 500,000 people have learned from her CX courses on LinkedIn Learning, and her insights have been featured in Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and NPR

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