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  • 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.

    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?

    Answer Your Customer Experience AI Questions

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    Culture and Access to Information

    By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet.  It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.

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    Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments

    Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. No Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.

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    How a Personal Interaction builds Customer Loyalty

    A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).

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