The Gist

  • And the winner is ... Customer experience/retention is the primary focus of generative AI investments.
  • ChatGPT changed the game. AI's applications in customer experience were previously nascent, but the debut of AI chatbot ChatGPT advanced its use by light years.
  • Make some cash. Generative AI has vast potential to augment humans or machines and autonomously execute business and IT processes, providing opportunities for revenue growth and transformation.

Where are most organizations prioritizing their generative artificial intelligence investments?

Customer experience. Convincingly. 

Gartner released a poll today that found 38% of respondents consider customer experience/retention as their primary focus of generative AI investments. That was No. 1, ahead of revenue growth (26%), cost optimization (17%) and business continuity (7%).

Surprised? Is customer experience getting that proverbial “seat at the table” it’s long coveted?

Maybe. It is just one poll of 2,500 executives. McKinsey, for instance, reports the most significant opportunity across the generative AI value chain is building end-user applications

Did We See Customer Experience-AI Investments Coming?

How did we get to a point where customer experience/retention is the No. 1 AI use case for executive leaders?

AI in customer experience certainly existed before OpenAI’s November 2022 debut of the most popular AI chatbot of all-time, ChatGPT. That debut advanced AI’s applications into all of work and life by light years.

Before that, though, all signs indicated AI’s applications into customer experience was super nascent. Case in point: The CMSWire State of Digital Customer Experience report found that in 2022 (before ChatGPT), a quarter of respondents said they had no AI applications in their CX toolset. None. Another 18% were just starting out, and 16% said AI's rarely used in CX. Only 8% said it’s regularly used to improve “many parts of our CX strategy.”

However, generative AI is tech’s hottest trend, and all the big players are buying in: Google, Microsoft, Amazon, you name it.

And here customer experience leaders are, looking for the best possible use cases

Learning Opportunities

Let’s say this for the CMSWire State of Digital Customer Experience respondents. They anticipated something big coming in AI. In 2021, 44% of them said AI and machine learning will have a significant impact on digital customer experience over the next two to five years, and 39% said the same thing. And 27% said in 2021 it would be transformative while 21% repeated that sentiment in 2022.

Related Article: 6 Ways ChatGPT May Change Digital Customer Experience

Customer Experience Over Revenue Growth?

Gartner’s report today emphasized that despite “economic headwinds,” cost optimization and revenue growth still trailed customer experience/retention. We suppose it’s not shocking after hearing time and time again that brands compete on customer experience, especially in the digital world where “fix my problem and fix it 10 seconds ago” is the MO for many customer service agents.

And customer experience vendors are recognizing the need for generative AI integrations with their software. It’s hard to miss the press releases and news coverage of contact centers and customer experience management providers doing just that.

Gartner found organizations are starting with use cases such as media content improvement or code generation. Generative AI, researchers found, “has vast potential to support solutions that augment humans or machines and autonomously execute business and IT processes.”

“Autonomous business, the next macrophase of technological change, can mitigate the impact of inflation, talent shortages and even economic downturns,” Frances Karamouzis, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, said in a press release. “CEOs and CIOs that leverage generative AI to drive transformation through new products and business models will find massive opportunities for revenue growth.”

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