How to Prepare for AI: Dispatches from CR Summit, Charleston
On the eve of the #CRSummit in Charleston, customer experience leaders from various industries held the first AI Committee meeting. AI is a challenging topic to cover because it has varied customer experience applications, depending on a brand’s growth cycle, customer base and business challenges. Companies like eBay place big bets on AI, while others use natural language processing (AI) only to build smart chatbots. A lot of work needs to happen in order to apply AI in business.
How to Apply AI in Business
Regardless of their approach, all companies have one thing in common. They all need to prepare for AI implementation by having a comprehensive data strategy with flexible architecture and a lot of storage. This is the missing piece for most companies. Organizations have different reasons for their lack of intelligent data. Some brands are too young. They have homegrown systems that need major overhauls to begin to scale for growth Others have more robust data repositories, but they have been built without the customer as the common unit.
There is a third scenario: companies that have third party CRM systems that also host the data. This makes it almost impossible to have the end-to-end data to use to build personalized experiences. It is important to learn the necessary foundations so when you meet with sales reps you can recognize the option that will fit your technology needs.
AI Needs Humans
Another foundational and somewhat counter-intuitive aspect of applying AI is the need for humans. The biggest misconception about AI is that it will “remove jobs.” Meanwhile, customer experience leaders are all struggling to persuade CFOs to fund new teams of data scientists. These are the professionals who need to tag existing data and watch for the “triggers” to use the data. Once this work is accomplished, brands need data councils to add new elements or to design new AI uses. Companies will always need more people to manage AI effectively.
Lastly, we all want to build solutions that will save operating costs today and enable a future customer experience transformation. So when we build, we need to think about scaling and building further, with the customer at the center.
There are still questions we need to answer. How do we begin the process (especially without much funding)? How can we make AI a reality and not just talk about it? What are the tradeoffs (if any) that we will have to make in the process?
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