May 19, 2020

How AI can help to enhance user experience

user experience
Duncan Keene, ContentSquare
4 min
How AI can help to enhance user experience

Marketers are the store managers of the online retail world: it’s up to them to ensure that visitors are having a good time and finding what they need. The challenge is insight: online store managers find it much harder to see what’s really going on in the shop, compared to their real world counterparts. It’s not immediately obvious why a particular product isn’t selling online, or how customers are getting lost or sidetracked on their way to the checkout.

That’s why, over the past few years, companies in a variety of sectors have focused their attention on enhancing their user experience (UX). Often seen as a qualitative measure of how users ‘feel’ while on websites, UX has historically been difficult to measure. However new analytical techniques, powered by AI technologies, are helping businesses optimise their UX and improve their bottom lines in new and important ways.

The importance of UX

Forrester predicts that delivery of a superior user experience could add up to $1 billion collectively to business’ bottom lines, while some analysts are even predicting UX to overtake price and product as the key consumer brand differentiator by 2020.

We tend to think of user experience as a fundamentally human discipline: after all, it’s all about predicting how humans are going to react to particular aesthetics or website structures. Now more businesses are seeing UX as something that not only can be measured, but must be measured.

Metrics and tools like heat maps, mouse hover time or scroll rates  can give marketers and product specialists insights into how people are actually using websites in the way they do. However the challenge is turning these insights into something actionable.  Combining these with advanced user journey mapping can provide essential insight to inform marketers as to why people are dropping out of the site at certain points, while next-generation element ‘zoning’ of key elements on a certain page can give employees and much more micro and detailed overview of page performance (such as revenue generated or hesitation rate per ‘zone’) at a glance.

Intelligent analysis

Based on what we know about UX, you wouldn’t think the marriage of automated analysis and artificial intelligence would be a happy one. However that’s exactly what the future holds for these forms of online analytics.

There’s a real shortage of data scientists in the job marketplace at the moment: McKinsey reports that in the US alone there will be nearly half a milion data science jobs by 2018, with only 200,000 qualified candidates to fill those roles. What is needed is a fundamental rethink of what the data scientist role is for, and whether part of that can be exported to automated tools.

Today’s AI technologies can be used as ‘early warning systems’, providing the role that often falls to the data scientist of raising the alarm when a particular page or user journey on the website is performing badly. Data scientists, often highly overworked, don’t need to be used for this kind of task, as it can be easily automated. AI technologies can be used to reduce this workload, by disseminating information across far wider teams than was possible before. This ultimately helps everyone save the most precious resource of all - time.

Some companies, such as ContentSquare, are taking this even further by offering interactive AI-powered recommendation tool for automated UX advice. These tools can pick up the highest or lowest performing areas of a website automatically, and flag them to digital teams as areas of the site that require further attention.

Looking to the future

In the coming years businesses will find it progressively easier to eliminate intuition from the product and marketing development cycle through a powerful combination of UX analytics and AI-driven automated recommendations. These technologies will save marketers time, while also empowering more people on the team to get involved with the data explaining how and why customers are behaving in the way they do.

With UX more deeply ingrained into how websites are designed, we’ll begin to see new types of KPIs emerge, KPIs which will assess not just how the website is performing, but the underlying usage patterns which determine that performance.

AI technologies are no replacement for human expertise, but can, when applied correctly, help empower teams by cutting out administrative tasks and spreading insights further within the business. These benefits are ultimately all in the service of one thing: helping businesses better serve their online visitors and converting browsers into buyers.

Read the January 2017 issue of Business Review Europe magazine. 

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Jun 12, 2021

Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey

Roger Beadle, Co-founder & CEO...
6 min
Roger Beadle, CEO of Limitless looks at how CX can directly Influence revenue generation in streaming services

There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.

There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.

There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.

In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.

Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.

So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?

Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney

While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.

For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.

For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.

Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.

It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.

How do companies support the new customer journey?

More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.

These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.

The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?

For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.

It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.

And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.

It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.

At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.

About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.

About Limitless
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.

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