Insights & experiences from CX leaders

Before crafting this guide, we interviewed some CX leaders deeply immersed in AI's evolution. Their first-hand experiences can offer invaluable insights into the journey, hurdles, and successes of integrating AI into customer experience.

Lessons and best practices from CX Leaders

Bora Wiemann, CX & Self-Service Optimisation Lead | Product Manager | Conversational AI Evangelist

Start small, think big.

Epic things start with small and humble steps. Starting with simple and achievable goals will help you to get a grasp of how the technology works best for you. Once you get the hang of it, you can move on to goals with a longer implementation schedule.

In 2016, Domino's started its AI journey with a simple Facebook Messenger chatbot for pizza orders. Instead of calling up or ordering online, customers were able to message Dom, the Domino’s pizza bot, and request food with a single word or emoji. 

Today, Domino's has delved far deeper into the world of AI. Their share price leapt from $7 in 2010 to $393 today, and behind this growth is an analytics team that ballooned from 15 in 2015 to over 60. 

Using AI, Domino's ensures consistent pizza taste across the globe. Beyond taste consistency, the company utilizes AI for supply chain management, pinpointing ideal store locations, optimizing delivery routes, and providing store owners with real-time business insights. 

If Domino's plunged directly into this level of AI integration in 2015, they likely would've failed. By starting small and gradually integrating AI, they were able to adapt, learn, and eventually lead the industry. 

ROI beyond the numbers. 

AI's return on investment isn't just in the dollars saved—it’s also in the value added. It's like hiring a digital team at a fraction of the cost (which is great), but its real worth is gauged by enhanced customer experiences and loyalty. 

Larry Barker, Senior Customer Experience & Operations Manager, Teamshares

Cut through the AI hype. 

It's easy to get dazzled by the latest AI trends, but what's essential is its alignment with business objectives. If it doesn't serve a real purpose, it might just be an expensive distraction. 

Remember the massive VR hype for customer service a few years back? Many companies, including a notable bank, jumped on the bandwagon, only to find their investments gathering virtual dust. 

The lesson? Stay grounded and ensure that any AI solution addresses real business needs.

Implementation made easy is the key.

One of the biggest roadblocks in AI adoption is the perceived complexity and effort of implementation. Tools that promise ease of implementation, validated by real customer stories, take the edge off. 

Tools and tactics to ease AI Implementation:

  • ROI Calculator: Before deep-diving into AI, use ROI calculators to map out potential savings and benefits. This not only justifies the investment but also sparks stakeholder curiosity.
  • Proof of Concept: Offer a hands-on experience to let stakeholders interact with the tool. Being able to prove and deliver on the calculated savings facilitates further discussions.
  • Implementation Templates: Resources like a timeline showing what a phased rollout of AI might look like at your organization—used broadly, or even used for a single project—helps ADA's potential timeline deck, although underused, is a step in this direction, ensuring transparency and setting clear expectations.
  • Customer Testimonials: Ensure your AI vendor has case studies that tell impactful stories, instead of merely presenting high-level numbers. Demonstrating success across different companies and different industries can build confidence.
  • Vendor Accountability: Ensure that AI solution providers offer guarantees, holding them responsible for delivering the promised results.
  • Unified Documentation: Manage all AI-related documentation in one centralized place to easily add resources, timelines, and to-dos for everyone involved. Assets that help stakeholders understand what is needed from both sides, and which teams need to be involved, can simplify the process and remove friction.
  • Third-party Evaluations: Review unbiased, third-party assessments of AI tools for a comprehensive understanding of the pros and cons.
  • Connect with Current Users: Facilitate discussions between current AI tool users. This offers a candid view of practical challenges and benefits.
  • Continuous Support: Ensure the chosen AI vendor provides consistent support. This guidance should continue after the sale as well, providing clear expectations and steps for the implementation process.

Humans + AI = CX magic.

Traditionally, as customer queries rose, so did the need for more agents. But with AI on board, this pattern's been shaken up. We can now handle more queries without always needing more hands on deck.

AI is shaping up to be the future of self-service, pushing the boundaries of efficiency beyond what we've known.

But remember, it's not just about saving a quick buck. If you're eyeing sustainable growth, don't be too hasty in slimming down your support team.

Take your time to reposition and redefine roles within your team. While AI is a game-changer, nothing beats the warmth of human interaction. The magic happens when we let them work together.

Mariliam Semidey, Director, Support & Localization at PicsArt Inc.

Balance cost savings with customer experience.

While cutting costs is an attractive incentive, it shouldn't undermine the essence of the customer journey. The goal is for AI to amplify the customer experience, not diminish it.

Chatbots and IVR systems have the potential to be powerful tools for efficiency. However, if they're solely steered by cost-cutting motives, it might lead to some unintended and unfavorable consequences for users.

A telling example comes from the LFG with JJ podcast. Mike Jennings, FleetCor's VP of UK operations, highlighted an incident. 

A company, despite its hefty investment in a chatbot, faced an embarrassing moment. A customer, having been defrauded of over 10,000 pounds, sought assistance from the chatbot. Instead of a consoling response, the chatbot cheerily replied, "Oh, that's great!?!".

Without proper execution and ongoing refinement, these tools can miss the mark, negatively affecting the very customers they're designed to assist.

Remember, it's a balancing act: the allure of savings should never overshadow the importance of a top-notch customer experience. Your AI's success in CX hinges on striking this balance.

Be prepared for challenges, but see them as growth opportunities.

Mariliam had a negative experience with an AI company that went bankrupt, causing disruptions in their service. They used AI as a part of their self-service on their website but had to manually create all the possible conversational branches, which was labor-intensive. 

Other attempts at AI implementation included systems like Zendesk’s Answer Bot, which used their existing knowledge base to offer answers. However, its success rate was low, around 10%.

But when 2022 brought significant layoffs, Generative AI shone as their unexpected savior, filling in gaps and simplifying content creation during tight spots.  

Every AI hurdle can be a stepping stone. Use these challenges to refine your CX game, staying ahead and adaptive. 

Leverage AI to elevate your leadership role

A great career track record with broad professional experience can open many doors. But to stand out in the future, and to truly stay relevant in the CX world, it’s going to be essential to learn and master AI. 

Technology is never an unambiguous good. It’s good to be thoughtful when adopting new technologies, especially when they require a significant investment of time, money, or effort. But when new technology becomes prevalent and widely adopted, those who choose to ignore it risk their own futures.
When computer usage exploded, people who refused to learn to type struggled. When farmers began adopting machine-powered tractors and tools, their efficiency improved dramatically—but those who ignored the new technology struggled.

For you, the lesson is clear: to create the most opportunities in your future career, embrace the evolving market and ride the wave of AI. To help you navigate this journey, consider these invaluable resources:

Subscribe to newsletters with AI insights:

Join CX Slack communities that offer peer discussions:

Follow AI experts: 

Participate in conferences: