Customer Experience (CX). Artificial Intelligence (AI). At first glance, they can seem like opposing concepts.
CX focuses on creating human-centered experiences that meet customer intentions and delight our customers. AI is “intelligence—perceiving, synthesizing, and inferring information—demonstrated by computers, as opposed to intelligence displayed by humans or by other animals”. 1
Yet, many of us have now heard and connected the two terms. We’re seeing more AI solutions aimed at helping businesses better connect with their customers to provide a more robust customer experience. 2
Like most people, we’ve been watching the re-emergence of AI over the past months, spurred on by the widely publicized release of Open AI’s Chat GPT. This prompted us to ask ourselves how these new capabilities would affect our CX work.
As CX professionals, our mission is to empower more meaningful connections between businesses and customers so that both benefit. The critical question we posited may also resonate with you:
“How can AI be used to increase long-term profit gains AND improve human lives?”
The New AI World
“Imagine a world where you had limitless capabilities to build whatever software you wanted for your business. You no longer need a robust, expensive team of developers, designers, and engineers. You simply type in what features you want, and the software writes itself. What would you build? How would you decide?”
This scenario, brought to us by a member of our advisory board, is the future.
Said another way, “This rapid adoption of generative AI functionality, spurred by the extraordinary usability and utility of applications like ChatGPT, is likely to cause a meaningful disruption to numerous industries by automating tasks previously performed by humans, generating new content and data, and improving decision-making processes.” 3
There will be a time in the not-so-distant future when the capabilities our businesses create will take much less effort. We’ll be able to get products and services out to customers faster, but we’ll be spending less.
When that time comes, how will businesses decide what those capabilities, products, and services should be? If one no longer needs to worry about the constraints of requirements gathering, resources, and time, what influences their decisions?
Further, how do you decide which of the many AI-enabled technologies to use in the first place?
Questioning the CX and AI Balance
There are customer-facing AI-based platforms, like the AI-powered chat features in the customer service sections of many websites. These start the conversation and then route customers to human representatives as needed.
Then there are AI-based platforms you can use to enhance your business operations, such as tools to schedule employee shifts around business needs and preferences.
These examples are a small fraction of what’s available to business leaders in this new AI world. With so many potential solutions and new technologies being developed and released seemingly every day, the risk of overwhelm in deciding is high.
But it’s not just the overwhelm. As business leaders, our job is to minimize risk while maximizing gain. Given the proliferation of technologies, their apparently endless capabilities, and the lack of foresight into which will be successful in the mid-long term, a savvy business leader can see the risk in choosing hastily.
How do you ensure your decisions lead beyond short-term fads and into long-term business profitability? When dealing with these nearly unbounded technologies, the more traditional decision-making models can leave us at a disadvantage.
There is evidence that a holistic approach to integrating AI leads to higher adoption rates and increased value (at least internally) 4, but that doesn’t answer what we see as the most important business question of our time.
How do we ensure we are creating a world we want to live in by improving the lives of our customers while we increase our profits—instead of exasperating the impacts of the limitlessly connected world we’ve created thus far?
Aligning CX and AI
If these questions resonate with you as a business leader, we applaud your human-centered approach!
We’ve done a great deal of thinking and research on these questions. And our answers all lead back to aligning customer intentions, business values, and basic human dignity.
By making business decisions considering these three aspects, we believe businesses can use AI to prosper and help their customers live better—using technology for humans and not vice versa.
All this and more are in Parts 2 and 3 of this series. In the meantime, please leave your thoughts below on the intersection of CX, AI, and business. We need to hear your ideas to ensure ours are not biased. Thank you!
1. Wikipedia, Artificial Intelligence
2. Torres, Jennifer, CMS Wire, Frame AI Debuts AI-Enhanced Features for CX Intelligence Platform
3. Heaney, Andrew, Ameriprise Financial, The transformative potential of AI: Investor considerations
4. Rao, Anand & Greenstein, Bret, PWC, PwC 2022 AI Business Survey