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AI ushering new era of intelligent CX

Annual customer experience trends report reveals that 68% of UK customer experience leaders believe chatbots can help build a stronger emotional connection with clients, with AI now the norm

The latest annual Customer experience trends report from Zendesk has revealed a rapid transition towards intelligent customer experience (CX), with a shift to artificial intelligence (AI)-driven service primed to create a divide between companies using the tech or not.

By contrast, Zendesk stressed that those with the ability to bridge this divide will completely transform CX, delivering personalisation at scale and elevating service quality while reducing costs.

Data for the Customer experience trends report originated from two survey sources. Zendesk surveyed 2,818 consumers and 4,441 customer service and experience leaders, agents, and technology buyers from 20 countries and organisations ranging from small business to enterprise, during July and August 2023. Results from each survey were weighted to remove bias from the survey samples.

The report placed a spotlight on the “defining elements” of intelligent CX: chatbots evolving into advanced digital agents, and live and immersive interactions redefining experiences.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of UK consumers believe that AI has become a modern part of customer service, with slightly more UK CX leaders believing that chatbots can build a stronger emotional connection with their customers.

This is largely due to AI chatbots evolving into skilled digital agents, playing key roles in customer service and the overall customer experience. Zendesk noted that their ability to mirror brand styles and evaluate their customers’ feelings and desires enables them to deliver tailored, accurate responses. 

Generative AI (GenAI) and evolved chatbots were seen as revolutionising consumer interactions by facilitating personalised, instant and interactive experiences. Zendesk added that as consumers expect more engaging and interactive experiences, CX leaders will need to transition to tools such as conversational commerce, live streaming and voice.

Some 69% of UK CX leaders (70% global) were reimagining their customer journeys using tools such as GenAI, with the adoption said to have real benefits. Nearly nine in 10 (88%) of UK CX leaders (83% global) using generative AI in CX reported positive ROI, with Zendesk saying this proves that these changes set a new standard for successful CX.

Another key finding was that AI and chatbots are revolutionising CX for good. Some 78% of UK CX leaders, who report their bots have already reached the level of digital agenda, are witnessing a positive ROI on their bots. Further, 71% of UK CX leaders said traditional customer service methods are outdated, compared with the efficiency of AI and bots.

Zendesk believes the transformation of chatbots into digital agents aligns with escalating expectations – over half (53%) of UK consumers believe chatbots should have the same level of expertise and quality as highly skilled human agents. Furthermore, 48% of Brits (51% global) preferred to interact with advanced bots for quick and immediate responses.

The company noted that businesses were grasping the importance of upgrading chatbots into digital agents and plan to boost their AI investments to speed up this process. Zendesk reports that leaders are confidently preparing for the future of CX, betting big on smart customer experiences for 2024, and signalling a landmark year for CX due to new technology.

“We’re on the verge of the most significant inflection point we’ve ever seen in CX with the latest advances in AI,” said Zendesk chief technology officer Adrian McDermot. “Businesses will need to rethink the structure of everything, from their tech stacks to their teams to how they deliver support. Companies that thrive will shift to a much more intelligent CX strategy, using AI to manage volume, lower costs, increase quality and ultimately improve customer satisfaction.”

Read more about customer experience

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