Despite being a fairly new technology, customer experience (CX) AI is already evolving rapidly to keep pace with shifting customer expectations, changes in buying behavior and the adoption (or obsolescence) of ecommerce channels.
Where are we today and where did we come from?
Let’s take a walk down memory lane - In the beginning, there were "basic chatbots". These early chatbots didn’t exactly put the “intelligence” in artificial intelligence.
Basic or 'Gen 1 Chatbots' were programmed to provide canned answers in response to keywords typed by the customer. These responses were hit-or-miss in their relevance, lacking in any personalization and the bots themselves weren’t equipped to provide a guided experience that could help a shopper solve anything beyond a basic query.
At best, these early chatbots could resolve about 15% of customer inquiries.
The next leap in technological sophistication led to somewhat "smarter chatbots". These second-generation chatbots were built to handle "workflow-driven use cases".
If the customer inputs enough data like item name, product ID and order number, the chatbot could use this information to provide assistance with specific tasks like initiating a return. This iteration of CX AI was not, however, able to parse intent or nuance in a customer’s text to provide truly customized and responsive customer support.
While it was shrinking, there was still a gap between the customer’s needs and the tools available to meet them.
That brings us to today - Cutting-edge CX AI has evolved beyond the chatbot model to the concept of “digital workers".
Digital workers are contextually aware, can discern customer intent, and can be deployed to deliver seamless self-service support across the full order lifecycle.
From applying a promo code or modifying an order to guiding a shopper through the return process or providing a make-good resolution for a damaged or missing item, digital workers are true CX facilitators, capable of providing on-demand support at every point along the customer journey.
We’ve come a long way in a short time from the early chatbot days, but not every brand has evolved their approach to CX automation to keep pace with technological advances.
While it would be absurd to walk down the street and see someone still using one of those early model cell phones that were roughly the size of a shoebox, the same can’t be said for antiquated CX AI.
There are plenty of retailers still using legacy solutions or relying on workflow-defined chatbots that frustrate customers with their rigid parameters.
Unfortunately for these CX luddites, their failure to keep pace with the evolution of CX AI leaves them at risk of falling behind their competitors who are embracing the CX automation evolution and eagerly leveraging each new generation of tools to create a meaningful, sustainable competitive advantage.