Technological revolutions rarely happen all at once. The commercial internet launched in 1989, but it would take almost a decade before most businesses depended on it to function. This wasn’t because the technology wasn’t there yet; rather, it was because people are generally resistant to change. They fear the unknown, even when the unknown stands to help them thrive. Unsurprisingly, a similar thing is currently happening with generative AI.
Generative AI technology is, without question, already here – ripe to be deployed for multiple use cases including customer support, marketing, sales, and product design across industries. What was once conjecture and hype has transformed, in the last few years and more so in the last few months, into the concrete future of not just the tech industry but of every industry. Many businesses are taking advantage of this fact, getting a valuable head-start in what is increasingly looking like an AI-dominated future. But many others are still lingering at the edge of the pool, hesitant to dive in.
Why? You hear a few common complaints: That it’s all just a fad; that the technology isn’t up to par yet or too risky; that integrating it with existing systems is more trouble than it’s worth. But with continued advancements, none of this holds true anymore. Thoughts like these are self-defeating – they’re holding countless businesses back, as their competitors reap the benefits of generative AI, especially in the area of customer experience. Anyone in business knows that if something offers even a slight advantage over your competitors, you should strive to take advantage of it. And generative AI offers much, much more than a slight advantage. Companies that hesitate to integrate it into their day-to-day processes are ensuring they’ll be leapfrogged over by their AI-deploying peers – and much sooner than they might think.
The benefits of generative AI aren’t theoretical; with the right set-up, businesses of all stripes stand to boost customer satisfaction and retention, increase employee productivity and ROI, and more.
Today’s Customers Have Skyrocketing Expectations
Of course, businesses don’t operate in a vacuum; ultimately, they’re competing for customers. And customers, over the last few years, have made their preferences clear: They demand convenience and instant gratification and will likely funnel their time and attention to the companies that deploy AI most effectively.
To be clear, the customers themselves might not be thinking in those terms. What they notice – what they want – is to have their needs anticipated. They want the brands they buy from to quickly grasp their preferences and to deliver quick, customized options of whatever it is they’re looking for, whether that’s a streaming show, a book, or a pair of pants. They want swift resolutions to their queries on the channel, time frame, and language of their choice. And businesses can only deliver this through automation, via conversational AI solutions. In fact, today’s new breed of generative AI-powered dynamic AI agents can effectively offer personalized, tailored recommendations, discounts, and support at the kind of scale customers are rapidly coming to expect.
But the value of AI, consumer-wise, extends far beyond automated at-scale recommendations. Again: Customers might not realize it, but they’re very quickly becoming accustomed to AI-facilitated customer service. Countless companies are looking to deploy dynamic AI agents to field customer requests, launch targeted marketing campaigns, boost upsells and cross-sells, and tackle everyday problems that can easily be solved without human intervention. In scenarios like these, the customer may or may not realize they’re dealing with AI – but they will note the unusually effective service they’re receiving.
Why Does It Matter?
Simple: When you meet your customers’ needs by predicting their desires and providing efficient customer service, you are much more likely to retain them down the line. When a customer brings a complaint or issue to a dynamic AI agent, the AI agent will have their entire customer history on hand. It will also have at its disposal – crucially – the entire history of its own interactions with other customers. That means it can bring to bear on each conversation not just the hyper-specific needs of the customer, but also what it knows about customers generally. In other words, it can modulate its tone or approach to suit the situation. And if this is helpful in a customer service context, it is doubly helpful in a sales context.
Consider a scenario where a customer asks a dynamic AI agent about TV console options for their living room. These AI agents can gather specific details from the customer, such as desired TV size, room dimensions, color preferences, and storage needs, to provide tailored recommendations. It can go a step further by referencing the customer’s recent purchases, like a white shoe rack, to suggest matching colors. This level of personalization, achieved through generative AI, ensures the perfect TV console recommendation.
As important as generative AI’s effects on customer loyalty and retention, though, are its effects on the internal workings of your business. Take a basic metric like productivity. We can easily imagine how generative AI would allow, say, a roomful of human customer service reps to get infinitely more done each day. The vast majority of what human reps deal with on a given day is routine – ordinary, uncomplicated, mundane tasks like returns and basic troubleshooting that the customer service rep can handle as if on autopilot. Generative AI – by automating those repetitive tasks and only bringing real-life representatives in when a problem needs a human touch – allows employers to maximize the value of their employees.
How to Get Started with Generative AI
Businesses should embrace generative AI as soon as possible. But what’s the best way to go about it?
First, you can’t simply go in with a vague idea of using generative AI to boost your business. It will only work for you if you have a specific idea of the problem you’d like to solve with it. That means sitting down and figuring out the precise business objectives you’d like to target, the precise user experiences you’d like to improve, etc.
The second consideration is finding the right partner. There are, right now, many thousands of businesses jostling for supremacy in the B2B space; the trick is finding the one best suited to your needs, both in terms of your business objectives and of what you’re able to afford. To that end, extensive dialogue with AI vendors beforehand is essential. Show them the business objectives you’ve drawn up beforehand and make sure, before you sign anything, that the vendor has the right tools and expertise in generative AI and specialized LLMs (large language models) to help you realize your objectives.
Lastly, there is the matter of deploying generative AI responsibly and ethically. Generative AI is, as this article has demonstrated, an immensely powerful technology, but it is useful only insofar as it actually helps people. The goal for all stakeholders – from AI vendors to businesses to consumers – should be to realize the potential of AI without sacrificing anything in the way of privacy or autonomy. For businesses looking to sign up with AI vendors, that means ensuring that plans are in place for regular auditing, testing, and validation of generative AI models, in order to ensure transparency and fairness.
Ten years from now – likely closer to two or three – the idea of running a business without AI will seem as absurd and antiquated as running a business without a wi-fi connection. Generative AI is not some flash-in-the-pan fad: It is the next, decisive step in the history of technology, every bit as significant as the internet. The question is not whether it will change the ways we do business – it already has, across virtually every industry imaginable. The question, rather, is who will be left behind when it becomes truly non-negotiable.