Nearly half of US marketers polled in September 2021 have increased CX-related artificial intelligence (AI) investments in the preceding year, according to an Insider Intelligence eMarketer report. Companies are experimenting with various ways to use AI in digital marketing, including facial and voice recognition, personalized channel experiences, natural language processing to generate content and improved customer segmentation.

As experimentations, those strategies are far from proven strategies. To get the biggest CX boost from AI, consider the five strategies below:

Focus on Analytics with AI to Navigate Consumer Landscapes

More often than not people compare AI with chatbots, according to Matt Matsui, Calabrio chief product officer. “While AI is an efficient tool for automating tedious tasks, the real benefit of AI lies in its opportunity for analytics. AI-fueled analytics gives organizations the ability to recognize the intent and experience of customers.”

By understanding your customer base’s behaviors and feelings more comprehensively, you can understand context and act with confidence, knowing how to manage any given engagement to deliver a positive customer journey, Matsui explained. By using AI models like sentiment analysis and predictive Net Promoter Score (NPS), organizations can take a proactive approach toward staying ahead of the ever-changing consumer landscape. 

“Predictive NPS uses speech analytics to generate a score for every customer,” Matsui said. This information enables companies to intelligently route calls needing human assistance to the agent best able to handle the customer’s needs.

Artificial intelligence is key to meeting customers' needs through analytics, which help reveal the context of the customer experience. 

Related Article: What's Next for Artificial Intelligence in Customer Experience?

Maximize Conversational AI Effectiveness to Boost Engagement

Improving relatability can increase customer engagement and using collective insights from AI can dramatically improve your understanding of your customers. 

“The enterprise community must consider the benefits of leveraging conversational AI to bolster customer interactions,” said Andrew Freed, IBM senior technical staff member and master inventor. “However not all AI-powered virtual assistants are built the same and they can fall short if they were developed by either organizations that lack business or user context, or by business professionals who didn’t have the coding skills or system insights to build a sophisticated experience.”

Instead, a company should draw from the collective insights of customer service assistants, sales associates, marketers, business analysts and others to enable the conversational AI system to reflect the entire breadth of an organization’s knowledge, providing better CX, Freed recommended.

Without understanding how their customers express their needs and wants, enterprises — particularly those in healthcare and financial services — tend to use complex jargon, Freed said. For better CX, companies should mine customer input to learn how they express themselves, then use AI to improve the relatability of responses from virtual assistants.

Use Conversational Intelligence to Boost Agent Effectiveness

Conversation intelligence provides a scientific approach to improving customer engagement, which can extract coaching insights from all agent-customer interactions, said Swapnil Jain, CEO. These insights can be highly contextualized to the specific skill, behavioral and knowledge-related gaps of each agent.

“AI-based coaching gives agents a more precise understanding of CX/sales drivers and customer sentiment, as well as targeted soft skills development — which is a must-have for delivering empathetic and meaningful customer experiences,” Jain said.

Leverage Zero Party Data for Better Customer Information

Big data has been a key topic in the business world for many years, yet zero-party data has largely been ignored, said Andrea Polonioli, Coveo AI commerce product marketing lead. “This may become far more important to companies looking to harness the power of AI for improved customer engagement. Small data can play a big role in AI, and zero-party data is a key part of this.” 

Learning Opportunities

However, Polonioli cautioned that collecting zero-party data can be challenging. Enterprises must ask the right questions, in the least intrusive and invasive way and offer a clear value exchange.

By combining zero- and first-party data, marketers also get around the issue of the sunsetting of third-party cookies, while collecting better customer information, Polonioli added. 

Related Article: What's Your Future of Work Path With Artificial Intelligence?

Use AI to Reduce Customer Effort 

No one wants to make their customers work harder to get what they want, and AI can be a great tool to reduce customer effort.

“One of the best practices in using AI is to make sure that you're not just using it to cut costs or increase profit margins,” said Brian Greenberg, Insurist CEO and founder. “You should also be thinking about how your business can leverage AI to create a better customer experience with less effort — and not just for you, but for your customers as well.”

For example, an e-commerce company selling clothing can use AI to automatically recommend future purchases based on a customer’s previous purchase history. But if those recommendations aren't relevant or helpful, then they'll only serve to frustrate and alienate your customers, Greenberg said.

Trust the Automation to Increase Engagement

While it is virtually impossible for a marketer to pinpoint the best moment to publish content, AI tech is trained to understand what influences customers to engage with a specific element and will automate the publishing process accordingly, explained Ashley Kibler, marketing director at Echobox. “For example, audiences won’t comment on Facebook at the same time of day, or in the same manner, that they will on LinkedIn.”

Smart automation will free up time and understand changing audience trends better by relying on calendars and reducing time-consuming manual processes, Kibler said.

Related Article: Powering Customer Experience Through Conversational AI, Analytics and Good Data

Final Thoughts on AI and Customer Engagement

With marketers increasingly turning to automation to get an edge with CX, AI will continue to increase in importance. But just adding AI without one or more strategies to maximize its effectiveness will be an underexploited investment. Using one or more of the strategies above can help ensure your organization maximizes the CX effectiveness of its AI investment.