Embracing the AI Revolution: A CX Leader's Guide to Collaboration

Nate Brown

February 28, 20245 min read

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I recently had the honor of attending a recent Frost and Sullivan conference in Huntington Beach, California. One of the most anticipated speakers was an AI expert, Christina ‘CK’ Kerley. She started with the question many in the room were thinking: how do we compete against AI? We DON’T! 

This was a revelation regarding how I think about AI and its role in creating Customer Experiences. The focus should not be on retaining human work as it's always been. Our primary focus has stayed the same. It should still be ”How can we create the VERY best experiences for our customers?”  

CX work has always been like solving a dynamic puzzle. You have the customer’s ever-changing needs and the business’ capabilities, both present and future. Our job is to find the best match as often as possible, guiding our customers to success. AI has brought remarkable new pieces onto the board, giving us new options. Exciting times for a curious and forward-thinking CX leader! 
But what steps can we take to adjust our mentality? The best service designers are using this time to find a new balance. They are forging a seamless digital ecosystem in which exceptional experiences are the norm, both consistent and personal. They are not trying to compete against AI but to find its proper place. One of the absolute best questions we can be asking is this: 
How do we design experiences that bring together the very best of human talent and AI capabilities? 

By applying this question to your current service ecosystem today, opportunities will begin to surface. Too often, we go “all in” on one path or the other whether this is human or digital. We are leaving ourselves exposed to this way of thinking. Instead, let’s isolate the very best of both. 

What things do you ask? It will be a bit different in each scenario based on your unique customer interactions, but these should hold: 

Things Where AI Excels: 

  • Pulling knowledge in from a variety of sources to make it understandable 

  • Identifying patterns across information types, including text, voice, and video 

  • Providing speedy answers to searchable questions 

Things Where Human Service Workers (Should) Excel: 

  • Evoking positive emotion that gives customers a sense of identity and connection to the brand 

  • Establishing customer confidence that comes from ownership and trust 

  • Collaborating on a creative/innovative solution beyond what the customer explicitly asked for 

We want technology and people in their “sweet spot.” As a service leader, issue mapping can be a significant first step to making this possible. Perhaps you did issue mapping more than two years ago, but with the addition of the incredible new technology it is likely time to go through the process again. 

If you don’t already have an issue mapping framework, the “Issue To Channel Mapping Tool” inside of The Effortless Experience is one I’d highly recommend. 

As this resource covers, the unique skill of putting yourself in your customer’s mindset in their time of need is critical. We don’t want to take away the customer’s sense of control because they will feel helpless. No one likes to feel as though they are being forced into a corner. We want to guide the customer to the best path for resolution. 

But the role of guide requires considerable skill and subtlety. We know what the customer needs better than they do, but we still need to award them freedom of choice. It’s one of those areas where wisdom from Nudge comes into play: 

“A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior predictably without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.” 

As a practical guide, we are “nudgers.” How we present a choice will have a significant impact on how most people decide. For example, customers have a strong bias towards the “default” or “anchored” option, which is often viewed as the safest. 

It can be tempting to offer up every service channel in the world. We fall into the trap of thinking that more choices lead to better outcomes. This is dangerous. We gain little and may compromise our ability to build trust earned through consistency. Whichever channels you offer, bringing them together into a truly unified platform is essential for timely and accurate resolution. 

A great service designer will find ways to offer the right channel(s) at the right time. Often, the goal is to help the customer get on with their life as quickly and seamlessly as possible. As the authors of “Nudge” say, “If the goal is to make it easy, make it automatic.” 

Making it Automatic

An automatic transmission in a vehicle is a remarkable feat of engineering. At its core is a series of “planetary gears.” A central or “sun gear” acts as the input and driver. Three “planet” gears rotate around the sun gear. This resilient and efficient system makes it very popular for various engineering applications. 

Automatic CX 3x

Our service centers can draw considerable inspiration from the planetary gear. In customer service, our “sun gear” is knowledge. Having a digital ecosystem capable of connecting dots between information, channels, customers and agents will propel the business engine forward. 

Let’s return to our conversation about finding ways for humans and AI to serve in their sweet spot. When the sun gear of knowledge is performing its function, service works, and AI can do tremendous things to help each other. AI agent assist has been around for a while, but it’s a milestone many services leaders still need to achieve. 

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The other side of the equation is the one that is newer and even more rewarding. It’s leveraging agents to act as coaches and trainers to the AI. The agents know the customer’s vernacular and what a great response should look like. Having them play a strategic role in training the AI considerably breaks down the “agents versus machines” mentality and provides greater efficiency. 


I’ll repeat it: these are exciting times for a curious and forward-thinking CX leader! The faster we can move past the idea of competing against AI, the faster we can get down to the business of serving customers in remarkable new ways! 

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