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AI is revolutionizing what it means to provide premium-quality CX. Along virtually every dimension—speed, accuracy, continuity, and availability of service—investments in AI technology are already delivering strong returns for customer experience. As familiar AI tools evolve into powerful, conversational creative engines, it's more important than ever for CX teams to think strategically about how these developments will be harnessed at the organization level. Likewise, tech-forward businesses will need to address how new AI technology will be perceived by their customers, so that it can achieve its full potential as a CX game-changer.

Revolutionizing CX: The impact of AI

The steady pace of AI progress has made it possible for many businesses to entirely reevaluate their strategies for interacting with customers. As customer service chatbots have become more ubiquitous, they have also tremendously expanded their problem-solving capacity through increasing use of generative AI models. The ability to offer consumers unprecedented access to adaptive, always-on support at minimal cost has made a strong case early on for the revolutionary potential of AI within the CX domain.

Beneath the visible surface of the customer interface, machine learning algorithms have empowered high-volume businesses to offer unique, personalized experiences to their customers and clients. Tracking and analyzing dozens, even hundreds, of cross-platform interactions with individual contacts would be an impossible task for even the most talented human-led CX team. But AI-powered analytics can autonomously sift through data across any number of touchpoints, identifying gaps in service quality and suggesting organizational improvements on the fly.

Investing in AI preparedness

With 87% of businesses reporting that they were evaluating AI for use in their CX initiatives even before the release of ChatGPT, it's clear that an AI arms race is already well underway across a multitude of industries. However, success in this field won't be determined by ambition alone. 

As AI continues to influence all aspects of CX thinking, a new set of strategies will need to be brought forward for organizations to utilize these tools to their full advantage. 74% of executives say AI will fundamentally change their approach to CX, but 3 out of 5 businesses say that their teams lack necessary AI skills.  Over the next few years, organizations that fail to invest in AI readiness will run the risk of falling behind their AI-ready peers.

Proactive organizational strategies for maximizing CX success include:

  • Training CX teams on AI-related skills like database hygiene

  • Finding opportunities for AI to support CX teams, rather than replace them

  • Establishing reliable sources of data for training large language models

  • Identifying the right metrics to measure success and track growth

  • Establishing open channels of communication between IT and customer-facing teams

  • Establishing organization-wide AI protocols that prevent siloing

Looking forward: Evaluating the customer voice

As AI gains further ground within the CX space, businesses will have to be proactive to address the gap in understanding between how consumers feel about the abstract concept of "Artificial Intelligence" and the material benefits already brought forth by AI in their lives. More than 50% of consumers are either very concerned or somewhat concerned about misinformation from AI in various customer service interactions. But at the same time, many customers still don't know what AI even is.

Taken together, these facts present a massive opportunity for organizations looking to overhaul their CX operations with the latest AI technology. Businesses that master the ability to move AI from an unknown to a value-add in the mind of their customers have the potential to run away with a massive share of the market.

The fact that such a sizable portion of the population isn't familiar with AI explains the relative lack of support for the technology—a very natural fear of the unknown—with over 70% of consumers claiming to have some level of fear of AI. Foregrounding the benefits of AI, while working to build familiarity with it among the general public, will likely be key to transforming the consumer-AI dynamic.

Vijay Sundaram, Chief Strategy Officer at Zoho, sees the challenge as using the tech to focus on people, rather than using people as an excuse to focus on tech. "When we think about the big-picture effects of technology on CX, it's important not to lose sight of the customers themselves. If we truly want to push tech forward, then we need to make an appeal that goes beyond 'this is newer and faster.' Businesses need to make it their goal to have customers feel cared for as individuals, with unique wants and needs. And they need to show them how technology actually empowers that level of care and respect."  

A new future for CX

The availability of sophisticated AI marks a tidal shift in the way businesses are able to engage with their customers. What remains to be seen is how organizations that are able to successfully adapt will balance the future and present, providing a groundbreaking quality of experience without moving too quickly for customers' trust. Preparedness and a customer-first approach will be crucial for anyone looking to ride the AI wave, rather than being left behind.

Zoho has placed AI at the center of its CX-forward approach to SaaS products. All throughout the process of improving its closely integrated sales, support, and marketing solutions, Zoho has prioritized the use of AI to mediate the complex web of data and communication from team to team, and from agent to customer. AI-powered predictions, recommendations, and automation enable Zoho's clients to remain competitive in the crowded online marketplace.