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Humans + bots: Tension and opportunity

November 15, 2018
How top global brands blend human skills and AI to build customer intimacy and drive growth.

This report, “Humans + bots: Tension and opportunity,” examines how companies across the world use AI through their customer journey and the business and customer benefits being delivered as a result. Based on a global survey of 599 executives and a series of expert interviews, this report found that most companies—and particularly firms that identify as “customer–centric”—have already deployed AI extensively in their customer-facing operations and customer experience management processes. Those that have moved earliest to automate processes and enhance customer channels with AI assistance are now reaping the greatest rewards, not only in terms of efficiency and scale but also in terms of customer loyalty and brand recognition from being perceived as technology leaders. Some of the report’s key findings include the following:

AI goes global

Customer experience leaders, and larger companies, are making significant AI investments, with nine out of 10 of all firms surveyed having added AI “enhancements” in their customer journey. There are few differences in the levels of AI adoption across the world, which shows that customers worldwide expect a high level of service that can only be provided with the support of technology.

Driven by efficiency

Investment in AI is largely driven by efforts to improve customer experience efficiency, but the strategic focus quickly shifts towards deepening customer intimacy, particularly for leading firms. Companies that are furthest ahead in terms of customer experience are using AI to bring a deeper level of customer understanding, driving customization and a personalized journey.

Rapid operational improvements

AI enables customer experience operational improvement at speed and scale. Nearly 90 percent of survey respondents report that they have recorded measurable improvements in the speed of complaint resolution, and over 80 percent have noted enhanced call volume processing using AI.

Satisfaction is driving revenue gains

Gains in customer satisfaction are improving revenue performance and customer lifetime value. Some 80 percent of survey respondents report measurable improvements in customer satisfaction, service delivery, and contact center performance.

Sentiment analysis helps manage costs

For the majority of survey respondents, operational costs have increased, but less so for those that invest in customer sentiment analysis. Companies using sophisticated tools such as natural language analysis are generally the leaders in customer experience technology deployment and are more able now to see cost performance results from these investments. By investing in tools that drive deeper customer understanding, they are able to make smarter investment decisions.