Is AI the “killer bee” in the competitive struggle around CX and EX?

Blog by Eric Lemage, Protime telemarketer

Is AI the “killer bee” in the competitive struggle around CX and EX?

In my previous article I compared CX and EX (Customer and Employee Experience). Today I'll try to demystify the extent to which artificial intelligence (AI) has been a breakthrough for our firms in the context of CX and EX.

What does AI actually stand for?

In plain language, we are essentially talking about a machine (computer) which is capable of analysing (faster than a human) vast amounts of data from diverse sources on the basis van particular algorithms (formulas), and drawing conclusions that are useful to humans when making decision and/or taking actions. In the case of machine learning, it's the person who determines the algorithms. As a layperson, I'm not really inclined to compare this to human intelligence. Deep learning is another matter entirely. In deep learning, it is the computer that makes additional algorithms while it analyses, in order to analyse the provided data more deeply, and to arrive at new conclusions, which the human brain may not have thought of before. Human brain function may be more complex because, for example, it takes feelings and emotions into account, but in inventing its own formulas (arguments) deep learning comes very close to what could cautiously be called 'intelligence’. If you would like to read more about it, you can read this article: “A simple way to understand machine learning vs deep learning” van  Brett Grossfeld , in which, by the way, he also indicates that there are two basic requirements for using AI in practice, namely: a powerful calculator (computer) and data, lots of data!

Is the rise of AI easy to trace?

In contrast to other trends, the rise of AI is not easy to trace. The application of AI is often invisible, in contrast to the advance of PCs or smartphones in their time. Steven Van Belleghem does an excellent job of explaining this in his book “Customers, the day after tomorrow” in which he also points up the fact that AI is no longer dependent on decisions by the consumer or the employee! The latter will certainly influence the speed at which AI will be embedded in departments like Marketing, Customer Care, HR, and a number of other departments.

What is the driving force behind the adoption of AI?

Indirectly, it concerns the competitive position of the firm and its attractiveness as an employer, but ultimately it's all about the changing demands of our customers and employees. Recognise yourself. We have never had so much free time, and yet we all complain that we don't have enough time. Some contend that our social lives suffer as a result. But to me, that assessment seems completely wrong. We have never been so occupied with our social lives. That is precisely the reason we are constantly looking, always and everywhere, for ways to get fast, easy answers for the most common questions and needs. It's why we want personalised information, the most intuitive apps, and 24-hour, 7-day service. The article by Joeri Van den BerghIs NextGen marketing more chemistry than science?” leads to the unavoidable inference that not only will this trend continue, it will grow. Considering the enormous competition in our service economy, this  has become a major challenge for all firms where CX or EX are concerned. AI can really make the difference here.

A lot of hot air about nothing?

When I first began to investigate the rise of AI, I had a look at the known application areas. To my great surprise, AI was already a part of my everyday experience as a consumer. I'm thinking about Booking.com, amongst others. Other examples of AI applications are in this article: “27 Incredible Examples of AI And Machine Learning In Practice” by Bernard Marr. You'll immediately get a good idea of where AI can be deployed. At the same time, you'll get - just as I did - the impression that the gulf between this new mega-trend and current reality is still very large. In Dutch we sometimes say: “There's a lot of bleating, but very little wool”. But is that so?

From internet research to research at the front line

It was time for my internet research to move to the front line. A few concrete examples from diverse sources at Protime immediately show the adoption level of AI more tangibly.

SD Worx: “The Bot for the Purposes of EX.” This short clip from SD Worx shows how a bot (a tangible AI application) within HR services staff members, and how it can bring EX to unknown heights.

Quirijn van der HavenProtime: “Data Source Integration for the Purposes of CX” : In order to apply AI you need a great deal of data from different sources. Marketing departments, including Protime's, have access to different databases. Our first aim is to link all those databases - including external data sources - in order to use AI to focus communications with our clients. That's how we look at different customer data platforms, such as the American Lytics or NGData from Ghent. But we are also investigating the potential for integrating AI in CRM systems so we can assist our customers even better.

Nick Geys – Online Work Rota: “Bot & AI for the Purposes of CX” : For optimal CX, Onlineworkrota currently already uses a support chatbot for answering clients’ most frequently asked questions. Only when no answer can be found, do staff members take over from the chatbot. Additionally, they are also currently working on making schedules with the support of AI. The aim is to use the available information to generate scheduling optimisations and to compare them with the relevant schedules.

The competitive struggle in CX and EX as an accelerator. In the past year I've approached many small businesses. It is remarkable how quickly young entrepreneurs today are investing in the digitisation of their business processes.  This new generation of business people have grown up in this digital world, but at the same time these IT tools have become much more financially accessible. This, and the tough struggle for a competitive edge in CX and EX leads me to suspect that we can expect the adoption of AI and its impacts to accelerate.

This concludes my research and views on CX, EX and the rise of AI. In my next article you will get the chance to get to know Protime inside out in my interview with a team leader from our Software Development department - the heart of a software firm. Hope to see you soon.