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The value of AI in CRM

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around in businesses for a while now. If you’ve ever chatted with a ‘customer service representative’ on a brand’s website, or received a ‘you bought this so you might like that’ offer, then you’ve already interacted with AI engines.

The value of AI in CRM #cxreimagine

The customer experience stands to be dramatically improved by AI initiatives that help businesses deliver better, faster responses to customer queries, and provide additional information that customers may not have even known they wanted.

In the last 12 months, many organisations have adopted chatbots, powered by AI or machine learning. These bots are helping organisations improve customer service by leaving the mundane or repetitive enquiries to the bot and freeing up customer service staff to work with customers who have more complex needs.

To a large extent, bots are about the channel rather than the outcome. People tend to be comfortable interacting with a business via a chat interface and many aren’t even aware that they’re being helped by a machine; they’re just happy to get their question answered quickly. These bots provide an intuitive experience that lets customers interact with the organisation in a frictionless, hassle-free way.

Microsoft has created QnA Maker, which lets you turn your existing FAQs into a bot-driven interaction channel in just minutes. The FAQs are the knowledge base for the bot, which trawls through to find the right answers according to the question it’s been asked. The great value of this tool is that it lets anyone in the organisation create a bot without requiring specialist coding or AI knowledge.

Integrating Microsoft Cognitive Services lets the bot see, hear, interpret, and interact in more human ways. And, you can integrate your bots so they form part of a know-it-all whole or can stand alone.

Why AI isn’t just a clever gimmick

While AI certainly is still new enough to be a curiosity for many users, it’s not just a gimmick. By automating and streamlining as many functions as possible using AI, you can free up humans to spend more time on their interactions with customers and prospects.

Furthermore, you can apply AI and machine learning to get better insights into opportunities and the landscape in general.

Soon, people could be interacting with AI in more ways than they might think. Gartner has predicted that, by 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse. From virtual assistants to entertainment systems, people are becoming more comfortable talking to machines.

For example, a major US-based bank conducted an experiment to find out whether customers would accept a bank branch with no human tellers. Transactions would be conducted via video screens, challenging what people expect from the customer experience. Contrary to predictions, people were overwhelmingly comfortable engaging with virtual tellers, with 80 per cent of the respondents saying they’d have no issue walking into a bank branch with no people in it.

Understanding how your customers would react to initiatives like this is the first step towards transforming your business models to offer more value and lower costs.

The case for using AI in customer service

Customers are not just willing but eager to solve their own issues without going straight to a customer service representative in the first instance. Half of customers believe it’s important to self-serve and 70 per cent expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.

Bots are the first line of customer service in an AI-driven world. They let customers take control over the interaction and find their own solutions where possible. They should make it easy for people to escalate their issue to a human so that you can seamlessly deliver a strong, positive customer experience.

The next level of bot development can include actions beyond simply providing information. For example, a bank’s bot could action requests such as “please transfer payment from my account for school fees”. The third level of bot development may include some kind of proactive information provision, such as the bank advising that you have overspent on discretionary items this month and offering suggestions of where to cut back spending.

The opportunities presented by AI to improve customer service are virtually unlimited. And, with new tools from Microsoft, AI is now within easy reach of smaller and medium-sized businesses as well as large enterprises.

This blog is part of the #datareimagine series. For more experts' insights, clients' experiences and to download our datasheets, click the banner.

For more experts' insights, clients' experience and to download our datasheets, click the banner #datareimagine

Posted by: Dan Smith, Practice Lead, Data Insights | 07 March 2019

Tags: CRM, Customer Relationship Management, Digital Transformation, AI, customer experience, Artificial Intelligence, #CXreimagine, #datareimagine, #AIReimagine

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