Autonomous CX is leveraging AI to transform customer interactions in real-time
K2 is the second highest mountain on Earth and also the most treacherous. Just 700 climbers have made it to the top, compared to over 6,000 on Everest. If you’re attempting a similar feat and find yourself in “The Bottleneck”—the dreaded K2 passage surrounded by overhanging glacial ice—that means you’re just 1,300 feet from the summit. You’ve made it so far, after traveling for so long and are so close to the top… but the hardest part is still in front of you.
Swap the icepicks for NPS scores, and you can just as easily be describing customer experience (CX) in 2023. Organizations have invested heavily in CX technology to keep up with customer demands—the market for CX management tools is expected to swell to $27 billion by 2026—but expectations keep climbing.
Like it or not, lightning-fast, hyper-relevant interactions are no longer a competitive advantage but a baseline expectation. To keep up—let alone stand out—companies now need to offer more than “lack of friction.”
Autonomous CX represents the next evolution of personalized digital experiences. Leveraging generative AI to respond to real-time customer behavior, this technology will completely transform individual interactions and CX as a whole. In the post, we’ll take at some of the biggest barriers to best-in-class customer experiences, how autonomous CX actually works, and why it’s such a gamechanger.
Let’s jump in!
3 reasons for disappointing customer experiences
Seven out of ten companies in the US and Europe increased their digital CX budgets in 2023. It’s easy to see why:
73% of customers now say CX is the number one thing they consider when deciding whether to purchase from a company.
75% of customers say they will pay more to do business with a company that provides good CX.
86% of consumers would leave a brand after just two bad experiences.
In the past 12 months, 49% of customers who left a brand they were previously loyal to said it was due to poor CX.
CX drives two-thirds of customer loyalty—more than brand and price combined.
Yet even with a laser focus on exceptional customer experiences, over 70% of CX leaders struggle to design initiatives that actually increase loyalty and retention. And in the U.S. alone, businesses are losing more than $35 billion annually in customer churn caused by avoidable CX issues.
So why is this happening? Here are some of the biggest barriers getting in the way of an outstanding customer experience:
1. Customer expectations often don’t match their experience
There’s a significant gap between CX tools and technology and what customers are actually experiencing on the other side.
85% of brands believe they offer a personalized customer experience, but only 60% of consumers agree.
54% of U.S. consumers say customer experience at most companies needs improvement.
Less than 1 in 4 businesses have the required technology to deliver consistent, personalized experiences across multiple channels.
Part of the problem is that companies often struggle to understand their customers in the context of a holistic, interwoven journey rather than segregated touchpoints. “Think of it like the butterfly effect. A specific error or struggle at any point can actually affect the entire experience,” says Yaron Gueta, CPO/CTO at Glassbox.
2. Personalization efforts don’t sufficiently incorporate technical considerations
Personalized digital experiences require a vast amount of nuance, context and integrated, actionable data. But it’s not just about delivering the right message to the right person on the right channel at the right time. Real personalization also means customers can easily and consistently perform the same combination of actions, regardless of their device.
This poses a considerable challenge, especially for UX teams. Although responsive design already distinguishes between desktop and mobile devices, there are only so many variables you can realistically accommodate.
One solution has been “breakpoints,” or predefined pixel values that specify when the layout, design and content will reconfigure. These are typically based on screen dimensions—for instance, your site’s navigation bar will display as a hamburger menu if the screen size is less than 500 pixels.
However, the quality of your customers’ digital experience can also be impacted by:
Screen PPI (pixel per inch/pixel density)
Potential interference from VPNs and browser extensions
Other apps running in the background
The precise order of technical events that occur during an interaction
In our own research, we even found the physical distance between buttons can impact conversion rates, indicating this is also a factor in usability.
There are currently over 9,000 distinct devices, 21 different operating systems and eight major browser engines powering hundreds of browsers. That’s 63,000 possible browser-platform-device combinations and counting. Another challenge is the pace of new releases. Since 2020, iPhone, Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy have collectively released 34 different smartphone models with 18 different screen sizes (as of September 2023).
And yet this degree of technical nuance is often excluded from personalization efforts. Your site or app may deploy different layouts for desktop and mobile devices, but that’s not the same thing as a truly responsive digital experience that adapts to real-time customer behavior—not just hard-coded screen dimensions. These limitations can have a serious impact, especially considering the strong correlation between technical performance and conversion:
53% of mobile visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
A 100-millisecond delay in website load time can hurt conversion rates by 7%.
A two-second delay in web page load time increases bounce rates by 103%.
A site that loads in one second has a 3X higher conversion rate than a site that loads in five seconds.
And that’s the issue with responsive design. Your customers may be enjoying a dynamic, “self-service” digital experience, but the display itself is mostly static, aside from some general layout configurations. This isn’t enough to enable deep personalization from a technical standpoint.
3. CX optimization is still a largely manual process
CX technology has enabled companies to automatically capture every tap, click and swipe. However, the way teams actually work with that data behind the scenes is often a manual and cumbersome process. Even with a fully loaded tech stack, optimizing any aspect of the digital experience typically requires:
These delays can also be significant because the CX is optimized based on data that is weeks or months old. Even if customers are experiencing a clean, streamlined experience internally, there is no easily streamlined process for continually testing, modifying and improving that experience quickly based on real-time behavior.
Instead, customers often have to settle for a lackluster experience—not bad enough to warrant mobilizing the engineering team but not fast enough to improve in real time. More often than not, there are substantial delays from the time you first detect a source of friction to when it’s finally resolved for customers. And that’s assuming you have access to sufficient data in the first place—over half of marketers say data quality is their biggest challenge with effective personalization.
How autonomous CX improves customer interactions in real-time
Commonly associated with ChatGPT, generative AI can create and modify content, including markup language and programming code. What does that mean for CX? Essentially, your site or app can employ generative AI to adjust its own interface and display different variations in response to real-time customer behavior. This is autonomous CX—digital experiences that can auto-enhance interactions for any individual.
While standard CX tools like heatmaps and session replays already identify rage clicks, page refreshes and other signs of struggle, autonomous CX goes even further by addressing friction as it occurs. For example, if someone abandons a form, this could be for several reasons, like unclear language or a particular field getting pushed below the fold. Autonomous CX can simplify the language and reconfigure the layout for the customer’s precise screen dimensions, self-optimizing on the spot. "We believe autonomous CX will be a game-changer in the CX domain,” says Gueta.
Back to you
For all the investment in CX technology, customers are still frequently left wanting more from their digital experiences. Failed expectations, insufficient personalization, and a lengthy road to even minor improvements are all partially to blame. In leveraging generative AI, autonomous CX doesn’t just smooth out sources of friction or optimize internal processes. More than anything, it enables real personalization: digital experiences that respond to individual behavior in real-time.
Hear from top digital and CX experts as they discuss how AI can elevate your digital customer experience in this video from DigitalWorld Virtual 2023.