Is AI Having Its iPhone Moment?
Remember the days before the iPhone? We had personal digital assistants (PDAs) or flip phones. And we were all naively happy. We had mobile access to what was essential to us at that time (email, calendars, contact lists, etc.) and we even had a QWERTY keyboard to boot. We didn’t know it could get any better.
Then came the iPhone.
It was billed as a game-changer – but few (with the exception of Apple die-hards) saw the added value, especially with its price tag. And the idea of taking away a keyboard seemed insane. It will take forever to craft an email on this thing!
Apple had an approach that consumers never saw coming. Despite it being built on existing technology and not the first smartphone to market, the iPhone gave us what we didn’t know we needed. It was sleek, easy to use, had a large app ecosystem, and a keyboard that appeared when needed. It made it easier to use a browser and organize your music. And it changed the paradigm by changing consumer expectations. Apple had faith that “if they built it, they would come” and they did. By the time other competitors got on board, they were playing catch-up.
That’s what’s happening with artificial intelligence (AI) today – especially in the realm of customer experience (CX). Up until this point, customers know they can reach a customer service team by calling or emailing – and despite the experience being less than ideal, it generally works. Even if it takes 3X longer to resolve an issue than customers find acceptable, it’s just “the way of the world”. But AI is giving customers an experience they never knew they needed. Support without the wait times, the ability to self-serve 24/7 and a better experience when they do reach an agent. But similar to the iPhone, customers can see the benefits, but they are still a bit wary. Instead of “wait, there’s no keyboard?” we hear “wait, there’s no human – I’m not sure I trust that?”
We are on the brink of a massive paradigm shift: AI’s iPhone moment. We recently conducted a study along with research firm Vanson Bourne to understand how consumers and businesses view AI in customer experience. Ultimately what we found is that a large majority of businesses – around 88% — are investing in or exploring AI. Why? Because they believe that AI technology will change customer service for the better. And like the iPhone, while only 8% of consumers are using chatbots today, 54% do believe it will improve customer service in the long run with 72% agreeing brands need to leverage new technologies to reduce time to resolution.
AI is presenting the opportunity for companies to be disruptive by differentiating themselves through a great customer experience. The days of customers accepting sub-par support won’t last forever, and the companies on the forefront of this shift are the ones who will win their loyalty.
It may feel less risky to wait until your customers are asking for a better CX to employ AI-solutions, but waiting could be a critical mistake. Just like in the early days of the iPhone, consumers have heard about AI and even experienced it themselves in certain capacities, but they’re still wondering what the hype is all about and how it will make life better. Businesses need to be the ones to show their customers a better way. Steve Jobs himself said “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Businesses adopting AI early to solve CX challenges will be the ones that experience that “Apple moment” and have the advantage. AI can transform the customer experience for both businesses and consumers. Consumers will see shorter wait times, always-on support, quicker resolutions, and when agents are needed will find that they are more informed and have more time to dedicate to each customer. For businesses, AI helps them scale their support teams without further burdening agents, increases productivity, lowers cost of delivery and delivers crucial insights that help them continue to improve.
Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines. If you wait for customers to say what they want, it’s already too late. The technology is ready. The research is clear. AI’s moment is now.
For more insight into the impact of AI on CX, download LogMeIn 2018 AI Customer Experience Report: Impact of Chatbots and AI in the Customer Journey