Van Belleghem on ChatGPT’s importance

Steven Van Belleghem considers the impact ChatGPT may have on customer experience as people come to rely on it more and more

It is hard to deny that TikTok has been one of the business success stories of the last few years. One of the main factors behind that success is undoubtedly its interface: it is fast, easy, entertaining and informative. As marketers, we can learn a lot from these characteristics when designing our customer interfaces for the future. The reality is, most of our existing tech lacks these characteristics.

When anyone does a Google search, they still need to trawl through millions of links to find the response that best suits their interests. The same is true for any consumer nowadays that might be searching for a house to buy or a hotel to book; the output is an endless list of options. Comparing Google and TikTok’s interfaces just reveals the latter’s superiority.

So much so that Amazon is now experimenting with a TikTok-style interface to introduce products to its customers, while Spotify is working with an AI DJ that selects and bridges music for users. Last December will go down in history as a landmark year in customer experience.

Just as 2007 was the start of the mobile era with Apple’s launch of the iPhone, 2023 will be the launch pad for the real era of artificial intelligence (AI) as ChatGPT went mainstream and integrated into search engines and Microsoft Office. Numerous companies are already using ChatGPT to make their customer experience more productive in five key ways as highlighted below:

New generation chatbots: Most customer service chatbots have a supporting script that all customer conversations are based upon. ChatGPT-based bots can be more ‘conversational’, giving better quality initial answers and the option to ask further questions. If the quality of ChatGPT can be harnessed in chatbots, we will experience a breakthrough in automated customer service.

Intelligence augmented: Customers’ queries can be dealt with by human customer service agents and ChatGPT. The human is still the contact point for the customer but ChatGPT could compose an email pulling in details to send to customers, ready for the employee to check and finish before it is sent. The time spent by the employee on the task is reduced massively, upping productivity.

Conversation management: Replying to consumer requests received via social media is a labour-intensive process for humans. Using AI to spot and respond to reviews on Trip Advisor or OpenTable, for example, could increase the number of responses per human employee.

Creative ideas: Have you ever organised a brainstorm with colleagues to come up with fun ideas for customers? Why not use ChatGPT as an infinite source of new ideas, some of which your team would never have devised. From those, you might select a few to leave to develop further.

Faster interfaces: Receiving feedback from customers criticising the functionality of your app or website can be difficult to address. Customer experience teams might need help from the IT team to make a small adjustment to the site. What if your ChatGPT could modify the code so adjustments can be made in minutes? Faster interface adjustments will mean more satisfied customers.

Creating a new reality: Some 65 years ago, US department stores were the product gatekeepers. In the 1980s, these chains accounted for about 30 per cent of all retail sales in the United States. That figure has now plummeted to less than five per cent. Newspapers commanded 80 per cent of all ad budgets; today, the lion’s share of advertising budgets go to three tech giants: Alphabet (Google), Meta (Facebook) and Bytedance (including TikTok).

Some 65 years ago, US department stores were the product gatekeepers. In the 1980s, these chains accounted for about 30 per cent of all retail sales in the US. At the time of writing in 2023, that figure had dwindled to less than five per cent. Newspapers were the gatekeepers of information.

Almost 80 per cent of all advertising spend went to newspapers in the 1930s. The figure has tumbled dramatically and is now less than five per cent. Today, the majority of ad budgets go to three tech giants: Alphabet (Google), Meta (Facebook) and Bytedance (including TikTok).

The former gatekeepers have been replaced by new, global gatekeepers, but their role too will diminish in terms of impact in the coming years. Why? Artificial intelligence. As the quality of AI improves, more people will adopt it. We know that ChatGPT still sometimes makes errors.

Imagine how it will change behaviour in the future when its performance and accuracy has improved several fold. Slowly but surely, we will rely on it more, as AI becomes the new gatekeeper. What if people ask for product advice from their AI assistant? Will your brand score well? Now’s the time to start thinking about gatekeeper management as part of your customer experience.

Prof. Steven van Belleghem is an expert in customer experience and an author.

His latest book is entitled A Diamond in the Rough.




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