Embracing the digital future: The AI-powered key to graduating your bot to the top of the customer experience class

My preschooler graduated this year and will head to kindergarten this fall. Of course, there are many more milestone celebrations to come but I always find inspiration in graduation ceremonies—regardless of whether it’s preschool or college. As the caps are tossed into the air, each student stands at the threshold of a new chapter, filled with endless possibilities and opportunities.

The inspirational feeling is similar when I think about how generative AI truly launched a new chapter in CX, with limitless potential. The new technology has set the stage for a dramatic transformation in how everyone engages with technology.

Digital transformation (DX) remains a global priority. Worldwide digital transformation spending is forecast to continue a double-digit growth trajectory, reaching nearly $4 trillion in 2027 with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 16.1%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Customer experience is not just part of the business—it is the business. The truth is that brands pay a heavy price when they fall short of customer expectations. Legacy tech stacks lead to customer experience gaps. In fact, research from Gartner shows that over 81% of customers’ decisions to continue doing business are based on the quality of the interactions that they have with that brand.

Consumers expect high-quality interactions from self-service and brands want customers to leverage self-service channels. Customer service is at an inflection point where every interaction matters more than ever since they take place everywhere, across the spectrum of channels and time. That’s right—interactions are happening all the time, on every channel, so your organization needs to be ready.

Organizations that incorporate the next generation of technologies enter a new chapter - one that allows them to differentiate on experiences. Where organizations now transform service to their customers, but also for their agents and their CX leaders. Here is how organizations are “acing” experiences by driving digital transformation with these top three capabilities.

1. Build your data library: Add a unified data layer to personalize, boost digital self-service

Consider a child's growth during a school year to understand why leveraging state-of-the-art CX AI technology is essential for optimizing customer experience. The photos I take of my kids on the first and last days of school show how much they grew during the year. The side-by-side pictures resonate even though I know how many times we’ve upsized shoes throughout the year.

Really, though, it’s the cumulative impact of teachers and mentors on your child's development that demonstrates the true growth that takes place during a school year. That same behind-the-scenes, day-to-day incremental growth is how AI continuously improves, learning from conversational data.

Some scripted bots are so elementary, they feel as awkward as a stilted conversation—leaving customers frustrated instead of empowered. Both customers and businesses struggle with this issue. Developing reliable, intelligent chatbots is complex and challenging without a trusted partner.

It's time for businesses to graduate to the next level of digital self-service by incorporating the latest in artificial intelligence. This advancement promises a seamless customer journey and other business benefits, including increased ROI.

Conversational AI delivers the advantage to bots so they can engage in a very natural dialogue using natural language. It comprehends human language to better determine intents and generate more human-like conversation.

Conversational AI mimics human-to-human interactions, drawing from many distinct types of conversations and leverages natural language programming (NLP) to draw and make those connections in real time.

Then, providing another layer of clarity, you can pull in data from your organization's own catalog of conversations to increase accuracy, effectiveness and the overall comprehension of your conversational AI.

How do you maximize the business advantage that conversational AI offers? Choose a partner that has volumes of conversational data from years of using the technology.

For example, a bank looking to support an increase in refinance applications wanted to decrease handle times and alleviate customer frustration. Using the best and brightest in artificial intelligence, bank officials identified specific insights from every interaction for every customer need, task and conversational turn.

The bank then gained a better understanding for the driver of each customer’s outreach on the refinance application process. Positive business gains included:

  • Faster development time via data-driven approach — no more guesswork
  • Improved self-service containment with better digital resources for customers
  • Increased customer satisfaction by improving customers’ experiences in self-service channels

The Golden Rules of Building Digital Self-Service<br />1 You cannot contain requests that you do not recognize<br />2 You cannot achieve adoption if you do not resolve needs

2. Remove CX AI anxiety: Eliminate multiple choice from self-service

Remember those multiple-choice tests, where you went with your first choice only to realize later there was a better option? With that lens, consider artificial intelligence as the right answer to enhance your self-service customer experience and eliminate the need for guesswork in your business.

There’s even a self-service piece where you can incorporate LLMs and conversational AI before an interaction even starts. This is a prime example of how purpose-built AI for CX elevates customer experience.

During the recent Conversational AI done right webinar, my fellow panelist Dan Miller, lead analyst and founder of Opus Research, discussed new research that shows an elevated gen AI awareness among organizations yet there are still gains to be made in seeing productivity.

Exceptional AI-powered self-service is trained on extensive conversational data to understand multi-level customer intents and learns from your top-performing agents. Doing so can prioritize automating high ROI tasks and hold human-like conversations. Think of it as a virtual contact center agent that replicates your organization’s best employee.

People expect brands to be available around the clock to address their questions, regardless of what time they reach out. CX leaders understand that addressing customers’ questions with smart, effective self-service options can help them achieve their primary business objectives. The key to smart self-service lies in learning from conversational data to:

  • Identify intents so you have a better grasp of what to automate
  • Develop utterances to ensure self-service understands future customers’ queries
  • Understand agent tasks to identify ways to automate and optimize agent tasks
  • Outline tasks for the optimal workflows to achieve efficiency

As I mentioned in a recent webinar, what other businesses are doing when they're approaching digital is moving forward with this “digital X factor” which relies upon data to make guesswork a thing of the past.

Simply using guesswork and a more traditional method doesn’t cut it. There are far too many interactions funneled to that voice channel when a bot could more swiftly resolve it. Having the ability to export insights and data directly into proactive and reactive conversational automation solutions automates bot training and creation with AI-determined intents to take the guesswork out of the equation for a fuller, more satisfying, exceptional customer experience.

Survey: Rise of Generative AI and LLMs ... Maybe

3. Do your analytics homework: Advancing from rules-based to AI-driven self-service

Let’s talk about the maturity of conversational AI in your organization and how you can take that further. It’s just a matter of doing your homework on the power of AI to solve specific customer experience challenges.

AI can essentially act as CliffsNotes, giving you a shortcut – without cutting corners - to access the masterpiece that spectacular CX can be, including a better ROI.

But many organizations just don’t realize AI can shift capabilities to monitor every single interaction – across every channel. Opus Research found just 25% of respondents see productivity gains from using generative AI and large language models (LLMs).

There’s a gap in people’s level of understanding of what is available, versus where (and how) organizations deploy the technology into their projects and integrate data across their teams.

Any organization that still uses a rules-based robotic platform may feel like they are in the groove of modern technology. However, the truth is, rules-based applications haven’t realized the full potential of graduating your bot to one that uses conversational AI to create more human-like interactions.

The issues with more traditional bots include:

  • Cumbersome guesswork
  • More reactive and slower
  • Low containment for a lagging CX
  • Reduced ROI with mounting pressure

On the flip side, a digital data-driven approach yields the following benefits:

  • Agile and faster
  • High self-service containment for engaging CX
  • Strong ROI with ongoing success

Sony Electronics has overhauled its customer experience with CXone. “Tying calls, chat, and SMS into a cohesive and effective experience was important to us, to ‘boldly go where no one has gone before’ and to have our best agents positioned to handle every inbound channel and react in real time to customer feedback,” said Roger Brewer, director of service tools and technology for Sony.

To build on newly optimized digital experiences, Sony also approached building a chatbot in a new way. Instead of guessing customer intents, Sony partnered with NICE to analyze 60,000 previous omnichannel interactions. From the analysis, Sony gained insight that 40% of their inquiries were "automatable.” Further, Sony’s team used the ROI data to prioritize the best opportunities based on volume and cost-to-serve and was able to deploy virtual agents as the first point of contact for all incoming queries.

Celebrate your graduation to next-level self-service CX

Graduate your bot and let NICE help you do conversational AI the right way by following these three keys.

  • Understand customer needs
    • From interactions, learn your customers’ needs, preferences, and pain points.
  • Ensure the “AI” in conversational AI is purpose-built for CX
    • Start quickly with AI purpose-built for customer experience and set up the appropriate guardrails to leverage your brand’s needs
  • Continuously improve, adapt, and integrate CX needs from one platform
    • Align your conversational AI implementation with your overall CX strategy

Prepare to realize the potential of AI and celebrate your graduation to a customer experience strategy that excels; your journey to the top of the self-service CX begins today!