Customer and employee experience mistakes to avoid and how AI can help

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Enterprise leaders are constantly evaluating how technology can better serve the needs of their customers and employees.

As AI technology progresses, businesses recognize the massive potential to improve customer and employee experiences and positively impact their bottom line. That’s why more than half of leaders are investing accordingly, with plans to increase AI budgets in customer experience by at least 25% next year.

When used in the right places, AI significantly boosts efficiency and satisfaction across a business. For example, AI can automate many parts of a customer and employee journey, enabling faster response time without sacrificing personalized, human-centric experiences.

However, an important forethought for companies is determining where, exactly, to implement AI so that the technology can meet internal and external needs without causing extra work for employees or creating unnecessary frustration for customers who truly need to speak to a human. 

As quickly-scaling enterprises face pressure to minimize costs while driving value, those that figure out where to best plug in AI as a solution are better poised for success. Here are some pitfalls to avoid.

Thinking employees will automatically stick around in a down market 

Many companies are currently operating with lean teams and can’t afford to lose top talent. Forward-thinking leaders have adapted quickly to leverage AI in a way that removes repetitive, basic work and allows employees to focus on more intellectually-engaging work. By making this intentional shift, businesses are able to increase employee satisfaction and improve output.

To get started on eliminating these tedious and mundane projects, companies should assess where AI and automation can increase efficiencies and optimize workflows.

One place to begin: Enabling employee experience admins with click-to-configure tools that easily and quickly create experiences with built-in automation without writing a single line of code. This automation can tackle basic requests like “how do I reset my password?” and free up time for more creative, strategic work. 

Another application is in HR departments. These departments often use AI to assess job postings for potential hiring bias as well as to analyze labor market data when calculating competitive pay rates. This not only speeds up the recruiting timeline, but allows HR teams to engage more in other parts of the process that should not be overlooked. AI allows employees more time to provide the best human-centric experiences like having quality conversations with internal hiring managers and spending more time with external candidates.

Maintaining an old-school 9-5 mindset

No longer can enterprises offer “good enough” customer service, leaving people waiting for hours or even days for responses. That just doesn’t cut it anymore as customers expect easy, accessible and personalized support from every brand they interact with. In fact, 61% of customers are willing to take their business elsewhere after just one bad experience; 76% after two. 

Businesses can leverage AI as the “always on” tool in the customer journey to keep pace with rising expectations for modern communication channels, 24/7 response expectations, desire to self-serve and tailored personalization.

There is an opportunity for enterprises to adopt messaging, amplify interactions with AI and extend AI to assist in most service needs. AI can also reduce resolution time, such as processing routing inquiries based on skill level, agent availability and request priority. Customers are then matched with the most qualified agents to resolve their issue. This is particularly important as companies at an enterprise size need to have scalable, agile processes to address massive volumes of conversations.

With 65% of customers expecting AI to save them time, companies are adapting their customer experience so that a majority of interactions will start with (and potentially be solved by) a bot. For example, gaming platform Roblox uses AI to respond to requests related to their specific game currency in a range of languages. By automatically resolving simple repetitive questions, bots increase agents’ productivity and let them focus on resolving more complex tickets.

It’s important, however, not to rely solely on AI.

While problems like a password reset can be solved with AI, there are still many issues that require a human. The biggest mistake a company can make is not properly training their bots to escalate issues quickly, efficiently and with the necessary context for a human to step in with a solution. 

Holding on to legacy technology systems 

While some companies can easily adapt and pivot to a digital-first world, traditional enterprises are often stuck using rigid, existing legacy systems that took many years and a big budget to build. These inflexible and fragmented system structures can hold enterprises back from improving the core of the customer journey with new tech stacks and tools. 

AI is an opportunity for enterprises to disrupt that status quo as it can help rejuvenate rigid infrastructure, bring in more scalability and enable teams to handle more complex use cases, improving both customer and employee experience. 

The major challenge of the update is applying the technology between fractured channels and stiff systems that can’t change and pivot as quickly as company growth requires. While the iteration of tech stacks won’t be completed in a single day, companies can start making incremental changes. They can replace one part of old legacy stacks with an easy-to-implement solution using AI to pull data in from other parts of the company.

For instance, a company could leverage AI to revamp its knowledge framework to not only address common issues, but to prompt employees when there are holes in their content base.

Trustpilot, for instance, has done just that to grow, build, manage, and leverage knowledge to deflect tickets and improve agent capacity. The company implemented a knowledge base program to organically navigate customers to solutions and proactively serve up content when an issue is detected. This investment in self-service led to a 62% year-over-year growth in customers opting for self-service, a 98% self-service success rate, and a 1,272% annual ROI on the platform.

Customer and employee experience: A positive AI outlook

While customer and employee expectations have changed, enterprise leaders remain focused on driving bottom-line growth.

With AI, companies can deliver engaging experiences that retain employees and build strong customer relationships during a time of fleeting loyalty. AI has a huge potential to meet the needs of the customer without sacrificing the personal, human touch.

By pushing boundaries, thinking in new ways and letting go of legacy systems, companies can embrace AI — even in small ways — to make a huge impact. 

Jon Aniano is SVP, product at Zendesk.

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