Many of the clients we work with at IPsoft begin their AI project with the objective of optimizing communication channels for their existing customers to increase efficiency. They soon recognize, however, that their AI initiative is the trigger for creating a better brand experience by streamlining and accelerating their entire customer service processes.

From the moment a customer picks up a phone or messages an online agent, the brand experience is defined. These points of consumer-to-service provider interaction can make or break a company’s reputation. We’ve all experienced the frustration of dealing with an automated phone service that fails to understand our responses or on the other hand, the delight of communicating with someone who can answer our questions straight away. Impressions made during each of these interactions last way beyond the time of the call. Each instance shapes our perception of whether this brand values our business or alternatively sow the seeds of investigating alternative providers. In short, every moment of direct client engagement is an opportunity to impact the company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS). As AI becomes intertwined with each of these touchpoints it plays an ever more important role in moving the dial on NPS.

Transforming CX for Existing Customers

Retaining and growing an existing customer base provides a foundation for stability and profitability. In addition to current revenue streams, a strong body of happy customers acting as brand advocates provides an influential voice in the market to attract new customers.

Whether interacting over the phone or through a chat interface, personalizing service is a sure way of demonstrating that a brand values its customers. At scale, this has been difficult to achieve in the past, but with advanced cognitive technology, it is possible to engage customers as individuals no matter how great a number. Sophisticated virtual agents can pick up on the emotional state of the customer and adjust responses accordingly demonstrating the natural empathy we expect when speaking to a human agent who is attentive to everything we say. Moving far beyond the transactional capabilities of simple chatbots, companies can utilize AI to hold meaningful conversations with every client.

It’s typical for customers today to have many of their more complex conversations punctuated by pauses while their human agent is forced to run manual look-ups for information. Cognitive agents, on the other hand, leverage their computer-speed processing capabilities to retrieve and analyze data in order to enrich conversations in real-time. Past preferences are not forgotten but instead combined with the very latest offering information. In the financial services industry, for example, where complex policy regulations need to be taken into consideration, the ability for virtual agents to give instant feedback can dramatically improve the experience.

Waiting times to get through to someone who can help can be eliminated. A cognitive agent can hold thousands of conversations in parallel, allowing more customers to get their questions answered and issues resolved whenever they choose to reach out for help. This coupling of human and superhuman capabilities within virtual agents can significantly impact how positive the brand experience is for customers during these key moments.

As a study examining customer loyalty in banking by Bain clearly documented, increased use of digital channels delivers improved NPS. By incorporating AI into those digital channels we can expect this positive impact on NPS to become stronger still.

Attracting a Whole New Consumer Stream

Recently, Nicolas Moch of SEB Bank shared how his customers are reacting to the bank’s adoption of virtual agents through the integration of Amelia into the bank’s customer-facing chat processes. He observed that the response amongst the majority of customers was positive. Not just millennials but a wide range of age groups enjoyed the additional support they were now offered.

Most importantly, however, Moch described how the service began to attract an entirely new customer group that the bank had previously struggled to reach. AI attracts a consumer base that is continually seeking only the most efficient, accelerated customer service experiences. This consumer group demands a high-quality digital experience in which everyday UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) benchmarks are being raised higher and higher. These customers crave faster, error-free customer service that only AI-powered virtual agents are able to deliver.

A significant demographic that did not like to spend time trying to call a bank or visit a branch is now so engaged that SEB has recognized that its virtual agent does more than enhance customer service. Instead, the bank sees AI as contributing an entirely new channel.

The lesson learned is that as companies prepare to enrich the brand experience they offer their existing customer base with AI, they can also expect to expand the appeal of their brand to an entirely new population. The benefits don’t stop there: as the underlying cost of servicing these customers across digital platforms is in turn much lower than the cost of supporting traditional channels, companies can expect this new stream of business to boost profitability too.