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    Why relying on AI won’t improve the customer experience

    Why relying on AI won’t improve the customer experience

    What will customers remember after they have experienced your website, product, service or people? What will they tell their friends or colleagues about their experience — will they even mention it? 

    A tremendous amount of investment and resources are being focused on integrating AI into the customer experience, from automating responses to comments on social media to improving the call center experience. And who knows where OpenAI’s Voice Engine will eventually take us? 

    Do you think customers will talk about how they were “wowed” by their AI experience? I’m willing to bet they probably won’t notice. Whatever experience is created from AI will lean more toward “expected” than “exceeding.”

    So, how do you create a customer experience worthy of conversation? I was determined to answer that question as I went on vacation a few weeks ago. 

    Discovering a 5-star customer experience

    After seeing Dan Gingiss, author of “The Experience Maker,” at a recent event and with his book in hand, I headed to a resort off the coast of South Carolina to find out how it earned its AAA Five Diamond award and Forbes 5-star rating. 

    It began with a room upgrade because I had booked our stay through American Express. I’ve had this perk for years, yet I rarely receive an upgrade at other hotels we’ve stayed at. And it wasn’t just any room; it was oceanfront with a million-dollar view. Boom, at least one star, maybe more, accounted for in less than 10 minutes. 

    The next day, at breakfast, we met Lincoln. Lincoln wasn’t just our server; he was our vacation coach. He asked us what we were hoping to get out of our vacation. He then reminded us to slow down, breathe and enjoy our time at the resort. It was a much-needed reminder that we were on vacation and to take time to reset, be present and enjoy our time together. 

    He also asked, with genuine sincerity, if there was anything he could do to make our stay more enjoyable, which we would later take him up on. Another star earned, thanks to Lincoln. 

    With our mindset adjusted to vacation mode, we set out to see the resort and walk on the beach. We went to the hotel room to find another surprise that really brought home the art of “wowing” your customers with the little things.

    Dig deeper: 5 simple ways to improve customer experience 

    Anticipating and exceeding customer needs

    My wife is a member of a neighborhood book club. She, like me, brought her book with her to read and enjoy our newly found free time. The book was left on the ledge of the bathtub and the person who provided the cleaning service to our room noticed that she didn’t have a bookmark. 

    There, carefully placed on top of the book, was a resort-branded gold tassel bookmark. Impressive! If that attention to detail doesn’t earn you a star, I don’t know what will.

    A couple of mornings later, Lincoln was once again our breakfast server. This time, my wife was trying to decide between two tempting items on the menu. Lincoln offered to take the most appealing items from each and make a custom breakfast specifically for her. After all, he asked what he could do to make our stay more enjoyable. Mission accomplished. 

    His final act occurred on the last day of our stay. We mentioned that we’d be checking out later that day, and Lincoln prepared a “goodie bag” for our trip, complete with utensils. This is a perfect example of going “above and beyond.” We were impressed and touched.

    During our stay, it was clear that the resort empowered its employees, from room service to spa to restaurants, to make decisions that benefit the guest experience. Taking a page out of Gingiss’s book, they noticed the little things, like a book without a bookmark. 

    Delivering exceptional experience through a customer-centric culture

    As the bookmark illustrates, experiences can be shaped without even interacting with customers. The power of observation, anticipation of needs and the willingness to act all shape the experience without engagement. 

    The resort earned its high ratings because everyone bought into their mission. They all lived it. It wasn’t one or two things or one or two people; it was everyone. They knew what business they were in and it wasn’t hospitality — it was the experience. 

    You just can’t tell a customer what your brand stands for. They have to experience it, just like our experience at the resort. We felt the service and experience that earned them their well-deserved high rating.

    Every touch point shapes the experience. You can’t fake it and customers can feel it. You also have to know what business you are really in. It isn’t a technology you’re selling, but what it does for the users. It’s what it enables or produces, not the feature or functionality. 

    CX beyond AI: Focus on delighting customers

    AI-enabled customer experiences will not be about what the technology can do but what job it does for the user. As an emerging technology, I see early signs this thinking isn’t happening. 

    Currently, the application seems more about what it can do for the company. Perhaps that’s a valid first step, but it needs to quickly move to the customer experience. 

    It’s still too soon to know, but in the meantime, there are many things you can do without it. Focus on the small things that delight customers, train and empower your employees and find opportunities to exceed their expectations. Sounds simple and intuitive, but is it happening consistently and across the organization?

    What did we tell our friends and family about our trip? Was it the food, weather, beach and the resort’s beauty? Perhaps a little. But what truly captured the essence of our experience was the story of the bookmark — proof of earnest attention to detail.

    We didn’t even have to explain it; people just got it when they heard the story. That’s how you build a good reputation and earn high ratings. 

    Dig deeper: The new blueprint for customer experience: Always on, always listening

    Fuel for your marketing strategy.

    The post Why relying on AI won’t improve the customer experience appeared first on MarTech.

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