December 1, 2023
How is (generative) AI changing customer experience? For the first episode of our “Unlock CX” Podcast, we were privileged to have an enticing conversation with Evan Kirstel about this topic. Kirstel is a distinguished analyst, devoted CX enthusiast, and a thought leader in the communication technology arena.
Got 25 minutes? Watch the episode below or listen on Spotify (or your favorite streaming platform) – it’s worth it! There are some powerful insights on harnessing the power of AI to elevate Customer Experience, and on reshaping the landscape of customer engagement. Only have less than 5? This article has you covered, but you might want to come back for the real deal.
The Impact of AI on Humanizing Customer Experience
In a previous discussion, our CEO Enrico Karsten and Evan Kirstel delved into the pivotal role of technology in redefining customer engagement. Find the summary here. Back then it was Kirstel who was asking the questions. This time, we reversed roles to learn more about his own vision.
Delighting Customers with AI
Kirstel kicked off by stating: “ironically it’s all about AI. Particularly the excitement with ChatGPT right now to humanize CX is a little ironic.” But then he highlighted the remarkable potential of AI, including ChatGPT, to create more empathetic, engaging, and lifelike interactions with customers. He underscored the unique advantage of advanced large language models. “They draw from extensive human content, enabling them to mimic and enhance human-like communication”.
Talking from my own experiences I pushed back and wondered how far Kirstel thinks we are with AI as a value-add for Customer Experience. Does he believe that things like ChatGPT, OpenAI, will really break that open?
Taking Generative AI Beyond The Buzz of ChatGPT
Kirstel expanded on the journey to humanize chatbots, emphasizing iterative development and real-world testing. He stressed the significance of early adoption and experimentation, enabling organizations to fine-tune AI responses through user feedback with employees and early adopter customers. Doing so, they can cultivate natural, personalized, and meaningful interactions, ultimately bridging the gap between technology and human emotion.
Kirstel: “The thing with ChatGPT is: it will get better. That’s one thing we know. Whatever it will be in four or five years will not be like what it is today. So the time is now to experiment and to use these applications in different niches and different use cases that might make sense. And to find those little hidden gems, those little hidden use cases, that have the opportunity to delight and thrill customers.”
“The thing with ChatGPT is: it will get better. That’s one thing we know. Whatever it will be in four or five years will not be like what it is today.”
The Dawn of a New AI Era
Elaborating on tangible applications, Kirstel showcased the transformative potential of large language models, like ChatGPT, across various industries. As a prime illustration, he used Snapchat and Quizlet. The way they use AI in their customer experiences goes deeper, right into the very heart of products – to impact daily life.
“Snap’s integration of chatbots to generate personalized recommendations and creative content adds a layer of joy and excitement to everyday conversations. Similarly, platforms such as Quizlet employ AI for adaptive learning experiences, underscoring the adaptability and versatility of these language models.”
Major Investments Propel AI’s Flight
We delved deeper into the paradigm shift, catalyzed by the current AI revolution and marked by monumental advancements in large language models. And how major tech players are actively investing in colossal datasets and pioneering approaches. These investments propel AI capabilities to new heights – like Microsoft, who took a big stake in OpenAI.
Embedding AI into Everyday Experiences
Kirstel predicts an even more profound impact of AI on customer experience: “Why would I need to call customer service if I have a co-pilot on my phone or in my banking app that can guide me through problems or issues? Embedding intelligence in every device and app might mean that I don’t need to call customer service. It’s learning from my behavior and will be teaching me as I go.”
Kirstel’s perspective alludes to how we as Anywhere365 have always envisioned reducing unnecessary dialogues. A future where customer engagement transcends conventional chatbots, ushering in intelligent, context-aware interactions.
The Future Role of AI: Promising or creepy?
“It is just up to the developers, the tinkerers and the creators to come up with ways to deploy it.” And although that sounds promising, it may sound creepy as well. Things can easily get out of control, as we’ve seen with Samsung data leakage for example.
“Those large language models are fundamentally different from what we had before. It’s not just an evolution, we’re entering a new era. The amount of data that goes into the models is so vast that even the data scientists say they know the models and the code statistically at a high level, but how they produce these results is kind of stunning.”
Exceptional Customer Experiences: Lessons from Apple
Reflecting on personal experiences, Kirstel commended Apple’s mastery in delivering unparalleled customer engagement. “Whether I walk into the store or if it’s remote support, they know me as a customer and they know why I’m there. It’s very seamless, there’s no friction. They’ve invested billions in that whole architecture and in equipping field staff with the best technology.”
Real Omichannel CX: Retail Is Not dead
Kirstel underscored how Apple’s customer service shows the importance of prioritizing people, empowering frontline staff, and streamlining processes. He pointed out that some say retail is dead and stopped investing in point-of-sale. The focus today in many businesses is more on digital CX. But Kirstel believes that to be a bad decision.
“Most consumers still want to explore the point of sale and go into a store. And that’s where a lot of the consumer experience falls down. If you ever have a router problem, and we’ve all been there, it can be quite challenging to get support. But take a look at what Apple did with their Genius Bar for example.”
Strategies for Implementing Successful Customer Service
The above may seem easy when you’re a trillion dollar company like Apple, but how can other companies replicate and materialize Apple’s customer-centric ethos when they don’t have billions to spend?
Predictive & Proactive Dialogues Only Happen in Ecosystems
Kirstel offered practical insights. He recommends investing in employee training and arming them with user-friendly technology. Drawing parallels with the aviation industry, where real-time monitoring ensures passenger safety, Kirstel envisions predictive CX as the future. Such an approach would anticipate and address customer needs proactively, elevating overall satisfaction.
I pointed out that for that to happen, you should build an ecosystem of communication. Integrating your frontline CX initiatives with your CRM to really make the difference, rather than using standalone end points.
Kirstel agreed that too many agents today are still siloed. “They don’t have access to a lot of the back office systems. They’re not empowered to make decisions in many cases and they don’t have the coaching. There is so much that we can do to empower people through technology, beyond just the old picking up the phone and saying hello, which is where a lot of contact centers are still stuck these days.”
“There is so much that we can do to empower people through technology, beyond just the old picking up the phone and saying hello.”
De-siloed Dialogues; The Rise Of Platform-thinking
This point absolutely resonates with me, as I’m a firm believer of platform-thinking. The days of the siloed contact center are coming to and end. And AI is going to speed up that movement. Customer-centric dialogue is possible if we decide to de-silo solutions.
By the way, if you’re an accredited Anywhere365 partner and looking to understand more about the value of ecosystems and how to build them? You don’t want to miss out on Beyond, our global partner summit. One of our keynote speakers (acn’t wait to tell you more!) will be all about this topic! Register here, it’s free!
The Potential of IoT, Still Early But Promising
There’s even a potential to integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) into customer engagement. Like we are doing with our Critical Dialogue Cloud for IoT (check out some IoT use cases for enterprise communication).
Although Kirstel acknowledged that widespread adoption is still evolving, he emphasized the potential power of proactive IoT-driven solutions, envisioning a future where predictive insights enhance seamless customer interactions.
Revolutionizing Dialogues: Where Technology Meets Empathy
Elize ended with a brief reflection on the seismic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on customer engagement. Kirstel acknowledged the acceleration of digital transformation, compressing years of progress into a short span. While celebrating technological strides, Kirstel emphasized the imperative of closing the digital divide and ensuring equitable access to technology and services.
Driving Empathy At Scale
Evan Kirstel’s insights shed light on the remarkable synergy between technology, empathy, and customer engagement. As businesses enter an era of AI-driven customer experiences, they have a unique opportunity to revolutionize customer dialogues.
By empowering employees, embracing AI’s potential, and drawing inspiration from customer service leaders, organizations can navigate the evolving landscape of CX, fostering lasting connections with customers. Amid this transformative journey, it’s the harmonious blend of technology and human touch that will redefine the future of customer dialogues.
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