AI ushers in era of intelligent CX

Photo by Olha Ruskykh

Zendesk, Inc. has released its annual Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report, the findings of which signal a rapid transition towards intelligent CX. In this era, the shift to AI-driven service will create a big divide between companies who use AI to create the best customer experiences and those that miss the mark on implementing, or worse, don’t embrace AI at all.

Those with the ability to bridge this divide will completely transform CX, delivering personalization at scale and elevating service quality while reducing costs.

“We’re on the verge of the most significant inflection point we’ve ever seen in CX with the latest advances in AI,” said Adrian McDermott, chief technology officer, Zendesk.

“Businesses will need to rethink the structure of everything, from their tech stacks to their teams to how they deliver support. Companies that thrive will shift to a much more intelligent CX strategy, using AI to manage volume, lower costs, increase quality and ultimately improve customer satisfaction.”

“As economic challenges persist across the region, businesses in Asia need to stay ahead of the curve by identifying key areas of investment in their CX and AI strategy to protect their customer base. We already see that consumers in the region are ready for change–71 percent of them believe that generative AI will completely change the way they interact with a company within the next two years,” said Maureen Chong, regional vice president, Asia, Zendesk.

“Businesses need to go beyond adapting to ongoing consumer needs. They need to embrace transformative technologies like generative AI as a catalyst for a resilient and forward-looking customer experience strategy and make a commitment to ensure its ethical use.”

The report reveals CX leaders in Singapore are charging ahead with generative AI adoption, with 78 percent already experimenting with or implementing it into their customer journey–second only to India (83 percent) in Asia Pacific (APAC).

This adoption has real benefits–84 percent of Singaporean CX leaders who are using generative AI in CX report positive ROI, proving these changes set a new standard for successful CX. The report also places a spotlight on some defining elements of the era of intelligent CX: 

  • Chatbots are evolving into advanced digital agents: Generative AI and evolved chatbots are revolutionising consumer interactions by facilitating personalised, instant and interactive experiences. 
  • Live and immersive interactions will redefine experiences: As consumers expect more engaging and interactive experiences, CX leaders will need to transition to tools like conversational commerce, live streaming and voice. 
  • CX leaders are the new drivers of data privacy: CX leaders, not IT, are the new drivers of data privacy, integrating security seamlessly into CX for protection and ease. 

Chatbots evolve into advanced digital agents  

More than two-thirds (70 percent) of APAC CX leaders believe chatbots can build a stronger emotional connection with their customers. This is largely due to AI chatbots evolving into skilled digital agents, playing key roles in customer service and the overall customer experience. Their ability to mirror brand styles and evaluate their customers’ feelings and desires enables them to deliver tailored, accurate responses. 

The transformation of chatbots into digital agents aligns with escalating expectations. 78 percent of consumers in APAC–and a whopping 93 percent of consumers in Singapore–believe chatbots should have the same level of expertise and quality as highly skilled human agents.

Furthermore, over half of APAC and Singaporean consumers expect to soon interact with advanced bots for quick and immediate responses. Businesses are grasping the importance of upgrading chatbots into digital agents and plan to boost their AI investments to speed up this process. 

Live and immersive interactions redefine experiences

Consumers have now come to expect more than just traditional support to truly enhance their experiences. On average, close to three quarters of those surveyed in APAC believe the way they interact with a company will completely change within two years.

A similar sentiment is seen among Singaporean consumers, with 69 percent of them expressing this belief. Malaysian consumers on the other hand remain sceptical, with only 56 percent of them demonstrating this optimism around the future of generative AI in CX. 

People are embracing conversational commerce–buying products within chat interactions–and turning to live-streamed sessions for immediate help with shopping. To keep pace with this change, 72 percent of CX leaders in APAC and 80 percent of those in Singapore are partnering with external vendors and experts to implement conversational commerce.

Brands are also turning to social media and in-store influencers for sales–an approach that attracts new consumers and caters to those who prefer shopping at home. Sixty-six percent of CX leaders in APAC–and 77 percent in Singapore–believe failure to leverage tools like live streaming that provide real time support will lead to lost opportunities. 

CX leaders in APAC recognize their role as drivers of data privacy

Amidst escalating privacy concerns and rising demands for AI-enhanced personalised experiences, data privacy is becoming a central responsibility for CX leaders. In fact, 80 percent of APAC CX leaders see themselves as responsible for making sure their customers’ data is safe. Another 82 percent in APAC say data protection and cybersecurity are top priorities in their customer service strategy, a sentiment echoed across both Singapore and Malaysia, with 84 percent and 93 percent of CX leaders agreeing, respectively. 

With CX leaders now active drivers of data privacy decision-making processes, they’re focused on delivering solutions that protect data while facilitating personalised experiences and deploying AI. More than half (61 percent) of APAC consumers feel they’re constantly under the threat of being scammed.

Singaporean and Malaysian consumers echo this sentiment, with 51 percent and 61 percent of them feeling so, respectively. When they see that a company is proactive about data security, they’re more likely to feel comfortable providing personal information, leading to stronger trust and loyalty.  

The future outlook for CX 

Leaders are confidently preparing for the future of CX, not just waiting to see what happens. They’re betting big on smart customer experiences for 2024, signalling a landmark year for CX due to new technology.