Artificial Intelligence and Customer Engagement

When I was asked about my takeaways from CRM Evolution by the audio-visual team at the event in Washington D.C. last week, I didn´t doubt for a second: The theme of the moment clearly is the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) in CRM, CX and Customer Engagement. All the sessions I attended, both key-note as well as break-out, had one or more mentioning of AI in it. Some of the sessions, were about AI full stop.

At CRM Evolution I had the pleasure and honor to be one of the break-out session speakers. And my theme being about Organizational Alignment toward Customer Engagement, I did not mention the word technology at all, let alone talk about AI. But, in hindsight, I should have dedicated it some time, because the impact of AI on organizational alignment is huge. And because I didn´t talk about it then, I´ll do it now.

Artificial Intelligence is on the rise, an unstoppable, unthinkably impacting and very useful to engage with customers and employees if used wisely. But it implies a mindset change. If through AI the customer experience can be more seamless, we should be embracing it. Repetitive tasks and questions can be dealt with much better and quicker using AI technology than done by humans, this means work becomes more fun, customers and better experiences and companies would get an ROI and reduce operating costs.

Thinking about what it would mean for me as a customer, I realize that in many occasions AI would certainly save me some angry tweets every now and then. I would no longer have to shout, “I want to talk to a human being” to the Vodafone IVR, for example. And, as I learnt on the CRM Evolution conference, AI is continuously developing more intelligence: AI is learning. It is evolving in such a way that the bots, robots etc. keep on learning, are even taught emotions, to show empathy even. The secret behind that all is the intelligent use of data of course.

Let´s go back to Organizational Alignment toward Customer Engagement. With AI, we´ll have to take care of another type of internal customer. You select and hire (acquire) it, it has it needs introduction (programming), it has educational needs, it comes with an operating cost, it delivers results, it has performance reviews, and it needs maintenance. Somebody or some department needs to take ownership. It learns through interaction, it usually has a name and a role profile, so it has an employee journey.

Should it be rewarded too? To what extend does it need motivation, and can it help motivate human talent? Can it have a role in taking the Customer Engagement strategy and vision forward? Can it help to making a Customer Centric Organization sustainable? Treating AI as another group of talent within the organization, would be exciting. It´s challenging, but around the corner.

However, I have a deeper and more fundamental worry when it comes to AI. My guess is that while AI takes care of the repetitive “chores” and customer interactions, not all employees are able to take on a more intelligently demanding role. Even if they would like to do a more complex role when bots take over their tasks, would they, with all the training and motivation we can think of, really be able to take on other tasks? And if indeed AI keeps on learning and improving, where will it end? To me, it´s all a bit too “Black Mirror-ish”, and its scares me a bit.

Imagine there were hardly any average or bad customer experiences because of AI. Imagine everything goes smoothly. Wouldn´t live be a bit boring? What would we talk about during the coffee break if it wasn´t for our bad customer experiences? Would AI come up to my room in the Marriot from the front-desk to tell me with a smile how my coffee-machine works? Would AI glow with pride because it tells me it made a great decision, and would this make me go all emotional? ¿Would AI tell me all about his home country Ethiopia while driving me to the airport?

These are some of the questions on AI that did not get attention in CRM Evolution, and I am, as you can read, left with a lot of questions. I would love to have a debate about this. Please feel free to join the discussion!

recomendaciones aerolineas

My top 10 Recommendations to Implement in Airlines

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY MIGUEL SANZ FROM B&P

I would like to share with you some actions that, in my opinion, could be implemented in airline companies and that do not involve great costs, are easy to implement and aim to improve the customer experience:

1. Bereavement fare:

in the event of a family death and given that the tickets bought the day before are really expensive. In this possible contingency, passengers should have the option of a tariff adapted to their situation, not implying a great cost. This would show a great interest in the customers and their circumstances. The company could request written proof, and it would be a tariff similar to the “large family” one.

2. What if you are flying the day of your birthday?

If the company detects that you are flying the day of your birthday, wouldn’t it be a good idea to offer you to travel in business class or to receive an extra drink? The crew could also sing happy birthday to you! (It is not necessary that they look like Friday’s waiters) Airline companies collect a lot of information from us, so they could take advantage of that to offer a greater experience for the user.

3. Bottle of water for loyal clients.

First, considering that Cabify provides a bottle of water to each customer for a few euros, an airline could think about providing the same service to every customer with a loyalty account. In my perspective, this could be a good idea to attract new customers, apart from satisfying the current ones.

4. Eliminate unnecessary procedures.

Does the duty-free make any sense? Almost no one buys there. Additionally, I received a survey to complete each time that I fly, being a frequent flyer. Finally, don’t you find senseless that the business passengers get on the plane before a queue of 150 people? Tell me that I am not the only one.

5. Including new procedures.

For example, on a connecting flight that is delayed, the company could facilitate the plane change picking up the passengers in the runway and taking them to the other plane, although the suitcase arrives the day after (good idea in Lufthansa). The crew assistance is also susceptible to be improved when passengers get out of the plane, we usually see that the contact with the members of the crew is restricted to the flying hours. In KLM I could see two members of the crew getting out of the plane and guiding the passengers on their way to the suitcase collecting area or to the airport’s exit.

6. Improving the food service:

  • The food metal trolleys are usually full of blows, they could have a brand-customized cover to add a classy style to the service.
  • In general, food is delivered in a quick way, the service should be provided more calmly, it usually looks like a marathon. In Qatar Airways the service is excellent, I was really surprised with their food delivery.
  • The coffee is delivered right after the food. A second round of drinks (mainly bottles of water) would be appropriate given that the passengers are normally thirsty afterwards.
  • Wouldn’t it be a good idea to reach an agreement with Nespresso or Costa for the coffee?
  • In long-haul flights, if you are in the last row you get the food that is left.
  • The bread is usually not likely to be eaten.

7. Cleaner toilets:

When I am on a plane, I have the feeling that toilets are not completely cleaned, usually there is toilet paper or liquids on the floor. A more frequent review process should be implemented by the crew, although I feel that this is not their job or that they lack proactivity.

 8. Children reserved zone:

At the end of the plane, children altogether, in seats close to the toilets to avoid disturbing the rest of the passengers. As far as I know, just one company has carried out this strategy.

9. Platform to get to know the crew:

To increase the interest of the passengers for the company before the flight. It can be a reason to get a better connexion with the crew and to facilitate the interaction during the flight.

10. Make communications more attractive and practical:  

We receive emails based on offers, but nothing on experiences or on the best price on the dates to travel. I get offers all the time and I don’t think that everyone is traveling every weekend to Porto, Paris, London…

car client premium

Automotive | Customer Experience

Our client is a premium vehicle manufacturer and is amongst the top three brands worldwide. Its distribution model is through a network of dealers that are the main point of contact with the end customer. Read more

retail company

Retail | Customer Experience

The client is a 100 year old company and world leader selling branded luxury products (watches and jewellery). It has a retail distribution channel with 35 stores worldwide. Read more

industrial company category

Industrial | Customer Experience

The client is an industrial company with a 90-year history and is currently a world leader in its product category. It generates indirect sales through a network of highly qualified distributors. Read more

financial services 3 cases

Financial services (3 cases) | Customer Experience

Case 1

Our client offers credit financing for retail customers. It has two types of client: a) partners that offer our client’s financing to their own customers via the consumer products and services that they sell (for example, electronic devices, dental treatment…) and on the other hand there is financing for the end-user/ customer. Read more

air services company

Air Transport | Customer Experience

A company from the airline sector decided to carry out a customer-centric cultural transformation that included the following elements Read more

funeral services

Funeral Services | Customer Experience

We started collaborating to improve the experience of people who have lost a loved-one by encouraging the funeral home to put the family at the centre of their service. Read more

insurance

Insurance | Customer Experience

The client is a company in the insurance sector undergoing structural and cultural change concerning the way it interacts with its customers. Read more

Healthcare | Customer Experience

 

The client is a large insurance company. They contacted us when they were going through internal changes and needed a Customer Experience specialist to help them understand their customers’ situation and how processes and systems were managed in their organisation with special emphasis on the department that had been created to manage customers. Read more

The Magic of customer Impact Management

Written by Monique Jansen for Buljan & Partners Consulting

Today the majority of businesses continue to be structured in a traditional manner, either through an organizational chart or a mixed approach (a combination of conventional methods and project management). On the other hand, although businesses are starting to enter the digital era, they are still very much in the process of adapting. As a result of this situation, there is a huge amount of confusion between different departments and project teams over who is the customer ‘owner’. Read more

THE VULNERABLE CUSTOMER

Written by Lisa Rottmann for Buljan & Partners Consulting

In this blog you’ll find ideas, support and references for exceeding your client’s expectations and consistently improving their experience. But what happens when customer experience theories fail? when the customer does not choose you? does not buy your products or services or simply doesn’t take them seriously? How can we exceed their expectations if they have a negative predisposition towards us and, due the pressure, they’re just not themselves? Read more

Managing emotions in stressful situation for clients

Written by Miguel Sanz for Buljan & Partners Consulting

The words “managing customers’ emotions” are tremendously attractive to companies and there is no doubt that they are key to establishing an emotional bond with customers. Read more

A human look at a digital future

Written by Elisabete Zubiarrain for Buljan & Partners Consulting

At the start of July, I attended the 20:20_CX Summit in London, an event dedicated to Customer Experience, participating in which were a range of very interesting speakers who looked at CX from numerous different angles. Events kicked off with a look at companies’ customer focus, moving on to how to effectively manage a company obsessed with the customer or go about laying solid foundations for a company to execute a CX strategy. All of this was done keeping in mind employees’ commitment to their company and that of their company’s toward them, with a major focus on obtaining and measuring the ROI of the initiative or investment in question, as well as the implementation and consolidation of a CX culture within a company.

Read more

Visit to a touchpoint organization

Written by Raquel Calleja for Buljan & Partners Consulting

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Buljan & Partners Consulting and as part of the commemorative events we’ve arranged visits to some companies of reference in CX like Loewe and Inditex. But we also wanted to pay a visit to the company we’ve always dreamed of being: the one that abandons the traditional silo structure and evolves for the good of its customers into a company organized around Customer Journey. Read more

Apple, the best customer experience?

Written by Luis Hergueta for Buljan & Partners Consulting

In my opinion, it is difficult to find a remarkable customer experience in product centric sectors. There are some automotive companies with a genuine interest in customers’ concerns, which want to take the basic standards and processes to the next level, and which really care about customers’ needs and concerns. Read more