Winning in the market via better customer experience journey and artificial intelligence

Emerging technology series (April 2018)

This article takes a look at how artificial intelligence can greatly enhance a company's customer experience.

Customer centricity is a vision for many, a reality for few. We all know that customer experience (CX) and being a ‘customer-centric’ organisation is a business imperative, where investment can generate large returns. PwC and Forrester[1] conducted a survey in late 2016 of 507 CX leaders, where 60% of them said they saw larger returns from CX initiatives relative to other initiatives within their organisation. And while many are continuing to invest in CX, few of them were really thinking about how they can build and embed CX capabilities within their business to form the foundation and driving force behind their Customer Vision. Only 13% said their organisation were centred around the customer journey, and only 1 in 3 had a clear roadmap for their CX vision.

Also, the findings of our recent international survey of 15,000 consumers across 12 countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, UK and US, 'Experience is Everything'[2], revealed that consumers would pay up to 16% more for better customer experience.

And CX is only set to become more important. With customers having ever more choice and valuing experiences that are easy, entertaining and personalised, brands need to reimagine how they approach CX, creating radically different experience to drive a competitive advantage. At the core of creating unique experiences is a deep understanding of customers; understanding historical behaviours but more importantly tracking and predicting their future known and unknown behaviours – behaviours that are continually changing, evolving and moving. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Analytics and other emerging technologies are critical components contributing to delivering these experiences.

AI is the big emerging technology on everyone’s lips, especially the impact it will have on future workforces and society. However, when we look at AI in conjunction with customer experience, we can see huge benefits. AI can enable organisations to provide deeply personalised experiences – so that every individual feels unique, it can allow for more regular and fluid conversations (regardless of whether it’s between two humans or a human and a robot) and as well as driving unique products, services and propositions that will engage consumers, whatever the stage of the customer journey. China’s massive investment in AI in conjunction with tech giants with seemingly large masses of data are driving some of the unique AI experiences.

An insurance company in China, for example, is looking to AI music to increase user stickiness and loyalty to their financial products. The company has created a computer algorithm that can generate original melodies, from studying hundreds of pieces of piano music. Its vision being to create virtual singers and write original pop music based on the tastes of individuals, to engage current and potential customers throughout the consumers’ lifecycle whether they need a financial product or not – keeping the company at the top of customers’ mind, when financial and insurance related services are needed.

Similarly, others are looking towards creative AI to create more personalised experiences. An online search giant in China used an AI to create 8,000 banner ads per second with personalised content delivered to each of their consumers during 11:11 (Singles’ Day) – that’s 400 million personalised ads in one day. During the 2016 Summer Olympics, a news app bot wrote original news coverage publishing stories on major events, tracking consumer behaviours to inform the stories that would really meet consumer needs.

And of course AI can be used to improve operational efficiencies to always meet consumer demand and streamline and optimise organisational processes. An internet company in China has said to have developed a model that can predict store sales for the next day based on historical data from 70 different metrics from purchases to the weather to events. Store managers will be able to use this to ensure consumer demand and expectations are met, without creating excess waste.

There’s a plethora of applications, examples and case studies for how AI can be used to improve CX, yet a PwC survey highlighted that only 47% of executives say they understand how robotics and AI will improve customer experience. So what would it take for CX professionals to embed AI within their strategy?

  1. Accurate and useful data must come first – AI depends largely on high quality and accurate data collection. Understanding the customer experiences you want to create, and identifying the data you want to collect on consumers will be critical to build the right framework.
  2. Be agile in your approach to AI – Take a sprint approach to test and learn AI use cases, but also AI algorithms and models. Play with some of the analytics and see what works and what doesn’t.
  3. Invest to win and lose – Invest time and resources to reimagine the possible and explore the different opportunities for AI being used within Customer Experience – whether you are confident they will succeed or not.

Want to learn more? Contact us so we can understand your customer experience needs and share how AI can play a role to make your transformation efficient, effective and something worth writing about.

 

We would like to thank Emma Burton, Senior Manager at PwC Hong Kong for contributing to this article.

 

1.Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of PwC, September 2016 extracted from “ Changing the game: The new rules of Customer Experience in the ‘Intelligent Experience Economy’ published in Aug 2017.

2.Experience is everything. Get it right https://www.pwc.com/future-of-cx

 

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Scott Likens
New Services and Emerging Technologies Leader, US, China and Japan
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Akihiko Katayama
Director, PwC Hong Kong
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Jen Flowers
Catalyst Leader and Lead Solution Designer, PwC Hong Kong
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