Innovation

91% of top companies use AI to boost customer service, improve branding

Companies including Alibaba, Lexus, and Uber use both human and automated customer service to deliver the best results, according to a report from MIT Technology Review and Genesys.

More than 90% of companies with world-leading brand recognition and high levels of customer satisfaction use artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to increase customer satisfaction, compared to 42% of companies in their fields overall, according to a new report from MIT Technology Review and Genesys.

The report refers to these companies—including Alibaba, BT Global Services, Lexus, Nubank, Uber, and Zurich Insurance—as "iconic" firms. These firms are more likely to recognize that automated AI tools are most effective when they "supplement and extend" the capabilities of their customer support team, rather than replace human workers, according to the report.

Some 60% of iconic company respondents felt they had the right mix of human and automated customer communication channels, compared to only 26% of poor performers, and 40% of companies overall.

"The leaders of iconic companies know that they also have to be leaders in customer experience technology investment," said Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau, CEO and Publisher at MIT Technology Review, in a press release. "But they also know that over-reliance on technology in search for efficiency gains can reduce, rather than increase, the levels of customer intimacy required for success."

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)

Iconic companies are using AI for more than just chatbots, the report found: Most said that AI was guiding their customer analytic capabilities as well. The most successful firms noted that optimizing tools, applications, and operational processes to engage with customers across every phase of their journey has always been a core growth strategy, which has accelerated with the advance of technologies such as big data analytics and virtual assistants.

For top companies, leadership in technology adoption was a crucial component of maintaining customer experience excellence, the report found. In comparison, among companies with low levels of customer experience satisfaction and brand recognition, only half use enabling technologies. Further, 10% said they have no intention of employing these technologies, the report found.

"This research confirms what we anticipated - AI will be crucial in taking customer satisfaction to new levels," said Merijn te Booij, chief marketing officer at Genesys, in the release. "The combined power of automation with the finesse of the human touch across the enterprise delivers the kind of blended AI solution every customer experience leader needs today."

Further, nearly 90% of iconic companies said they were adept at managing customer experience from an omnichannel perspective, compared to 66% of low performers and 75% of overall companies surveyed.

Iconic companies also take a more active role in managing their tech ecosystem, and are more than twice as likely as the average company to require their partners to adhere to their customer experience standards. However, a third of iconic companies reported that they do not actively share their customer insights with their partners, demonstrating that they recognize the competitive advantage of keeping that data internal, the report noted.

A recent survey from SYZYGY found that customer feelings toward AI being used in marketing are neutral: Only 28% of Americans said they would feel more negative toward their favorite brand if they discovered it was using AI instead of humans to offer customer service and support. However, 79% of Americans said customer service chatbots should not be able to pose as humans. And 71% said brands should require customers' explicit consent before using AI when marketing to them, the survey found.

Want to use this data in your next business presentation? Feel free to copy and paste these top takeaways into your next slideshow.

  • 91% of companies with world-leading brand recognition and high levels of customer satisfaction use AI solutions to increase customer satisfaction, compared to 42% of companies in their fields overall. -MIT Technology Review and Genesys, 2017
  • 60% of iconic companies said they had the right mix of human and automated customer communication channels, compared to only 26% of poor performing companies, and 40% of companies overall. -MIT Technology Review and Genesys, 2017
  • Top performing companies were more likely to say that AI was guiding their customer analytic capabilities. -MIT Technology Review and Genesys, 2017
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About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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