We all know a positive or negative experience can make or break a brand. The quality of a customer relationship is equal to the sum of their experiences with a company. Those experiences often are underpinned by technology, but any technology is only as good as how well you build and deploy it. If it’s not designed to meet customers where they are, even the best technology may not have the impact you want.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the leading topic of conversation this year because of the breakthrough step forward in generative AI. Among the many potential use cases for businesses is a range of AI-powered tools that can improve the customer experience, such as chatbots, virtual assistants, and recommendation engines, combined with customer meta-data and behavioral analytics. They have the power to transform the way customers interact with brands. For the consumer electronics industry, one of the ways AI can have the greatest impact is by focusing on areas that add the most customer value.
A case in point is post-sale support. According to our latest Connected Decade survey, connected product usage is at an all-time high, which means it has never been more important to keep customers’ devices and appliances up and running to ensure an enjoyable experience. Consider that nearly 60 percent of consumers experienced frustrations with their Wi-Fi-connected products last year, and people value a fast resolution over cost, using a certified technician, and several other factors when it comes to repair.
That’s why making it easy for people to self-diagnose and fix common issues themselves is a great application for AI. Doing so saves customers a drive to repair or return an item, the need to take time off work for a repair visit and, most importantly, it limits product downtime.
It also reduces truck rolls, resulting in a more sustainable approach and lower service costs. Given that many service calls are for No Fault Found (NFF) issues that can easily be resolved by the customer with the right guidance, such as correcting a misplaced cable or resetting the device, it’s clear how leveraging AI to enable self-repair can make a sizable impact on both the customer experience and margins.
The key is having large enough data sets that encompass product specs, historical claim information, common breakdown issues, and the most effective repair solutions for a wide range of consumer electronics and appliances. AI can take this data and serve up helpful guidance quickly and effectively to the customer.
For example, if a customer’s smart TV turns on but is not loading streaming content, an online chat can intelligently ask questions to narrow the likely issue and resolution.
Based on the customer’s answers, the chatbot can ask further questions to narrow down the issue and provide guidance, such as checking the Wi-Fi settings, resetting the router, and checking cable connections. These frequent issues can often be remedied by the customer, which gets them back up and running with no in-home visit required.
Customer-led product fixes can also have environmental benefits such as reducing carbon emissions from customer or technician travel, as well as extending the working life of appliances and devices, keeping them from being unnecessarily dumped in a landfill. Extending the life of these products also reduces the environmental impact associated with the production of new goods to replace those prematurely discarded.
It’s important to note that while AI can improve understanding and chat responses, many customers still prefer to talk with a live person for the most challenging concerns. That’s why it’s vital to leverage AI to empower both virtual and human agents with the most relevant and helpful product and service knowledge to deliver a fast resolution.
The two should work in partnership. AI-enabled chat can quickly help customers resolve common issues, freeing up customer relations personnel to focus on more complex customer interactions.
AI also can assist human agents by automatically providing a summary of notes for customers who have previously contacted customer support, proposing appropriate responses based on the specifics of the customer’s issue, offering relevant knowledgebase articles to help with product assistance, or prompting an action, such as making a relevant cross-sell to the customer.
To work best, you must make it easy for customers to transition from the digital channel to the human channel. You can begin by leading the customer down the path of virtual self-service, but if the customer wants to switch channels, it must be a seamless process to ensure a positive experience.
Again, as powerful as AI has become, it’s not a solution to every problem, nor is it simply a way to reduce costs. View it as an additive tool in the customer experience journey.
By implementing a thoughtfully designed hybrid approach and fostering collaboration between human and AI teams, retailers can harness the power of modern technology and amplify the frictionless experience. You can also foster human empathy when customers have a complex moment of truth with your brand.
This connection will enhance the customer experience and increase customer loyalty in addition to presenting opportunities for growth and promoting greater cost savings.
Jeff is the President, U.S. Connected Living, at Assurant, a global provider of risk management products and services with headquarters in New York City. Its businesses provide a diverse set of specialty niche-market insurance products in the property, casualty, extended service protection and pre-need insurance sectors.