How to Build Out Your CX Team for an AI-Driven Future

The role automation plays in customer experience (CX) is expanding. Today, customers expect digital engagement with companies to be the default rather than the fallback. And with tolerance for poor experiences lower than ever, every interaction counts.

Digital interactions are on the rise, and they're taking place across a multitude of channels at any given moment. In an always-on world, it's impossible for companies to scale world-class CX without the help of automation. And the world's leading companies are making their responses more relevant and personal by putting artificial intelligence (AI) at the forefront of their CX strategies.

And while the market for automation solutions is crowded, from basic chatbots to intelligent AI-powered platforms, some offer granular insights, allowing companies to provide more personal digital experiences that go beyond customer support. But to become an AI company (in the future, every company will be), you don't just need the right technology, you also need a purposeful approach and the right people.

Companies can now capture, analyze, and apply digital interaction data to inform business decisions at multiple levels. Access to these insights, along with the added business value AI can deliver, is why companies are actually creating new CX positions, like conversational AI specialists, bot managers, and automated customer experience (ACX) managers, some with little to no AI experience. Try searching any of these roles on LinkedIn and you'll find hundreds of openings.

If you're looking to build a CX team that's equipped for an AI-driven future, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Here are a few of them:

Tap Into the People Who Know Your Customers Best

The people you want behind your CX automation strategy are the ones who interact directly with customers every day. That's why, rather than hiring from outside the company, it pays to promote from within.

Your top customer support agents know which customer journeys and interactions should be automated first. And their in-depth knowledge of customer pain points, as well as your product offering or services, allow them to optimize the right interactions for efficiency and effectiveness at scale. This allows the entire customer support team to focus on more meaningful work, advance their careers and, ultimately, the business.

What's vital here is the ability to identify where to optimize your conversational AI to improve its impact and to test, iterate, and clearly communicate results to the broader team.

Start Small and Scale Up and Out

If you expect to launch your automation strategy with a full-fledged CX department, you'll never get off the ground. Start with a specific project team and a bot manager whose sole focus is customer support automation.

With the right solutions, you don't need to be an AI expert to understand performance metrics or an engineer to make every change, big and small, to your chatbot. Some solutions with no-code or low-code builder platforms give nontechnical teams the power to own the automation strategy right out of the gate. That means your engineering team can focus on new ways to deliver added business value for the long term, putting their time and skills to better use.

As you move forward and start tying your strategy to larger business outcomes, reporting insights up to the C-suite and iterating on AI, other teams will likely want to get in on the action. For example, product teams might want to use insights gleaned from automated customer conversations to inform their product roadmaps, while sales teams might use them to connect with prospects around particular pain points. Start lean and evolve your efforts as you grow.

Draw a Line Between AI Strategy and Business Goals

Anytime you deploy new software, tying strategy to specific business objectives helps ensure success. For example, if the business goal is to reduce operating expenses by $1 million, set a clear cost-savings goal within the automation project. This makes it easy to articulate AI's value and demonstrate ROI.

When automation becomes a source of insight for broader business decisions, it turns a cost center into a value driver. And this leads to job creation and advancement opportunities for CX professionals. Your CX team might even earn a seat at the leadership table by leveraging interaction data to uncover new revenue streams and ways to build loyalty.

No matter your business, CX is a powerful growth lever and a key brand differentiator. Taking a top-down approach will help focus individual efforts on producing measurable impact. After all, CX drives the business and AI drives CX.

Iterate Continually to Increase AI Containment

Customer expectations are always changing, which is why your automation strategy requires ongoing attention and optimization. You need dedicated employees who understand your customers to take the wheel.

Continually evolving conversational AI to make things easier for customers also relieves the pressure on customer support agents. Automating simple and repetitive tasks allows agents to focus on work that's more valuable and more rewarding.

Approach automation knowing you will need to iterate continuously to maintain high customer satisfaction and boost containment. Empower the people overseeing and maintaining the AI-driven CX strategy with tools to continually learn, adapt, and evolve as you expand automation's scope and scale across your organization.

Digital strategy is no longer the responsibility of marketing teams alone. Its ubiquity makes it a core business function, and that includes the CX, where digital is king.

Automation solutions that are user-friendly, agile, and accessible to non-technical employees allow companies to think more strategically about who manages CX, from content creation to AI architecture.

Structuring your CX team around a smart AI strategy brings far-reaching benefits. Achieve business objectives, inform decisions through the CX feedback loop, and prevent contact center burnout for your valuable customer service representatives. Not only do less stressed agents provide better service, overall productivity rises along with job satisfaction.

It's time to put your automation strategy in the hands of the people who know your customers best and restructure your CX organization for an AI-driven future. Your best employees can grow their careers, and your customers will receive a connected, consistent brand experience. Everyone wins.

Jim Monroe is vice president of customer experience at Ada.