Companies can leverage AI across their communication channels, enabling them to augment (not replace) the role of the human contact center representative.
Digital transformation traces back to the introduction of home computers in the 1970s. Over the years, businesses have modernized to replace inefficient processes and leverage technology to connect better with a global consumer base. Businesses today know the importance of a great customer experience and how tech provides companies with a competitive advantage. Increasingly, such efforts make use of omnichannel communications powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Why? Despite years of businesses working to accelerate their digital transformation plans, it’s been found that only 45% of consumers are “very satisfied” with how they connect with companies. Such a significant number indicates that many businesses are falling short as they build customer experiences (CX) that cater to consumer preferences. It also reveals massive opportunities to evaluate strategy and make the changes necessary to improve customer engagement.
In light of this customer feedback on efforts to modernize the business-consumer relationship, brands have to ask two questions if they want to win prospects, build loyalty, and retain customers. The first is, “What are we missing in our efforts to engage with consumers?” The second is, “How do we redesign the CX to optimize communication and mitigate consumers’ concerns so they want to come to us and not our competitors?”
To be successful, brands should adopt an omnichannel communications strategy, allowing customers to contact the business seamlessly across their preferred channels. Companies can also leverage the powerful capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) across their communication channels, such as voice, video, messaging, and chat, enabling them to augment (not replace) the role of the human contact center representative.
Omnichannel Elements: Chat Like Friends and Family
Data shows more than half (57%) of consumers message friends and family daily via non-SMS apps, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, while almost half (48%) also make calls via apps with friends and family every day. Similarly, phone calls (37%) tend to be consumers’ most-used method when communicating with businesses. Consumers want to be able to interact with businesses through the same media they use with loved ones, but less than half (45%) are “very satisfied” with the communication methods available from brands, compared to 60% with family and friends.
Given that significant gap, there is a need to advance overall customer engagement across channels. Businesses need to be sure they’re offering true omnichannel, not just multichannel communication, which only prioritizes a couple of channels and lacks a full scope and consistent view of customer data. Many organizations confuse the two, adopting solutions that aren’t seamlessly integrated into their existing business applications and workflows. Effective communication solutions allow customers to communicate as they would with friends and family, making it feel like they’re talking to a loved one rather than a salesperson trying to close a deal. Research also shows that 1 in 3 people will increase their omnichannel usage, conducting more of their business on mobile, voice and messaging, email, and social platforms. AI can help companies handle that increased volume smartly and efficiently.
Enabling Omnichannel Communications with AI
Nearly 50% of consumers will likely leave or switch to competitors after just one or two frustrating experiences, according to research. With the help of AI capabilities like automation, conversational commerce, and voice bots, companies can eliminate these top customer frustrations:
- Long wait times to speak to a customer support agent (63%)
- Having to call customer support multiple times (63%)
- Repeating their issue (61%)
- Dealing with automated phone menus that are too long to navigate (57%)
Customers want to engage anytime, anywhere, but they do not have endless amounts of time to spend interacting with customer support. These support conversations need to be handled efficiently by the agents best suited to solve the problem. AI-powered, skills-based routing can help to find the right agent to answer the call. AI adds information, automation, and self-service to conversations, bringing greater depth and effectiveness to each interaction while freeing up live agents for more complex inquiries that require a human touch. Plus, it offers another option for customers to engage, share insights, or request follow-up on their preferred channel(s) whenever necessary.
AI can also automatically pull relevant consumer information from a CRM system to provide the necessary context to agents to avoid repetitive communication. As a result, agents have end-to-end visibility and a holistic view of each customer as more than just a number on a help desk ticket. When implemented correctly, AI can make each channel so smart that businesses can resolve a customer’s issue in their primary medium. This level of AI-enabled support can help to increase customer engagement and even uncover additional value for a brand by establishing a continuous stream of higher-level customer service, increased consumer satisfaction, and better overall customer engagement.
Proactivity Breeds Success
Winning brands must be proactive in their customer engagement initiatives and think about and act on what the consumer needs and wants before they realize it. Consumers’ communication preferences may vary, and they want options that will give them the answer quickly. That is how brands can show consumers they care and want to be of service. AI tools are a significant benefit to this goal. AI helps understand the consumer in ways a human customer care representative can’t, facilitating intelligent conversations that lead to meaningful actions. A top-notch omnichannel experience must be built on and optimized with AI to ensure long-term success.