Intelligent customer experience (ICX): A guide for 2024
Businesses must deliver high-quality consumer interactions to meet rising expectations. Learn how leveraging data and AI can help create an intelligent customer experience.
Last updated January 18, 2024
What is intelligent customer experience?
Intelligent customer experience (ICX) is how a business uses artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and data to provide personalized and proactive experiences.
On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers first took flight. Roughly 65 years later, innovators and scientists had built on the Wrights’ discovery to propel humans to the moon. This timeline perfectly illustrates how we live in an era of increasingly expedited and impactful change—and that change is prevalent in everything from exploring the cosmos to how businesses interact with customers.
Just as humans achieved space flight on the foundation of a rickety airplane, a new method for consumer interaction—intelligent customer experience—is built on business methods of bygone days. The ICX is a revolutionary way for businesses to exceed customer expectations and enhance their bottom line at scale.
The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2024 dives into why intelligent customer experience is so important. This article highlights some of the key takeaways from that report, including what makes an effective ICX, how it builds on the customer experience, and how you can implement it in your operations.
More in this guide:
- Why are intelligent customer experiences important?
- Key components of an intelligent CX
- Benefits of an intelligent CX
- How to implement intelligent customer experiences into your organization
- Frequently asked questions
- Build an intelligent customer experience with Zendesk
Why are intelligent customer experiences important?
Intelligent customer experiences are important because every interaction between a consumer and a business matters. In the wake of evolving technology, organizations need to leverage generative AI, automation, and data analytics to enhance these interactions and provide outstanding consumer experiences.
How businesses interact with their customers has changed rapidly over the years, and until recently, it didn’t take much to make a positive impression. Answering the phone with a smile and effectively solving issues used to be enough to stand out in the marketplace.
Then came CX—a concept that taught businesses the power of every consumer interaction. Companies use this philosophy to foster loyalty and retention at all touchpoints, whether that’s a call to customer service, an ad on social media, or an email campaign. Recently, however, organizations have realized an excellent customer experience isn’t enough.
Businesses now need to adopt an intelligent customer experience that utilizes generative AI, conversational AI, next-gen experiences, and data analytics to deliver comprehensive and outstanding consumer interactions at every stage of the customer journey. Consumers expect the best. Businesses that hesitate to adopt ICX will be left behind, and their competitors will reap the benefits.
75% of consumers who have experienced generative AI believe the technology will completely change how they interact with companies in the next two years.Zendesk CX Trends Report 2024
Key components of an intelligent CX
An intelligent CX consists of several components working together to help businesses understand customer expectations and deliver outstanding consumer interactions. Here are some of the key elements of an ICX.
Generative AI and automation
Generative AI, evolved chatbots, and advanced automation are transforming customer interactions. These technologies enable businesses to automate repetitive tasks, streamline processes, and respond swiftly to customer queries.
70% of CX leaders plan to integrate generative AI into many of their touchpoints in the next two years.Zendesk CX Trends Report 2024
For example, our new Zendesk generative AI capabilities powered by OpenAI enable bots to support customers with natural, human language. Businesses can set the tone to match their brand, get data-driven automated suggestions, and encourage self-service so agents can focus on more complex issues and tasks.
There’s one variable that fuels AI-powered and personalized experiences: information. Harnessing and analyzing data allows businesses to better understand consumer behavior and preferences. With this information, organizations can anticipate consumer needs and personalize offerings to align with customer expectations.
While consumers advocate for these experiences, businesses must also know how to engage in customer data privacy to keep their customer and organizational data safe.
The modern consumer doesn’t just prefer personalization—they expect it. Using data, businesses can tailor interactions that cater to customer preferences. This may look like sending emails to customers with product suggestions based on their search or purchase history. Doing so fosters a stronger connection between the company and the consumer and improves customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.
Customers should be able to interact with your business on their preferred channel—whether that’s your website, app, social media page, or anywhere else you have a presence. An omnichannel approach makes it easier to communicate with customers and seamlessly continue conversations across all channels, ultimately enhancing the ICX.
For example, a customer may start a conversation with a support agent via Instagram but then want to continue the conversation over the phone. An omnichannel ICX allows that fluid conversation to exist without losing context or creating the need for the customer to repeat themselves.
An intelligent CX leverages customer data to provide more personalized and proactive experiences. But this isn’t possible if your customer data is siloed. That’s why integrating your CX tools and systems is key to building an ICX.
For example, if an e-commerce chatbot can access your customer’s shopping cart, it can proactively send them a discount code to nudge them to check out. Or, if a bot has access to a customer’s loyalty status, it can route them to the VIP support team so they get more specialized support.
Whether incorporating consumer information into customer relationship management (CRM) software or allowing support agents to access customer and company information from one interface, the seamless integration of processes and systems creates an intelligent CX.
Benefits of an intelligent CX
Organizations that embrace an ICX see improvements to their processes and bottom line. Here are some of the top benefits of an intelligent CX.
Enhanced customer experience
Businesses can improve the customer experience by leveraging generative AI, data-driven insights, personalization, and the other key components we’ve covered. And finding a recipe for ICX success isn’t rigid, either. Organizations can tinker with processes and conduct split tests to figure out how to best turn these ICX ingredients into five-star customer experiences.
70% of CX leaders say that ICX factors like generative AI have led them to take a step back and reevaluate their entire customer experience.Zendesk CX Trends Report 2024
For example, businesses can embrace workforce management software that automatically creates optimized schedules and identifies agent training opportunities. This can result in improved operational efficiency, reduced wait times, and more comprehensive consumer support.
Improved customer loyalty and retention
When businesses analyze consumer data, they can create a comprehensive customer experience strategy and personalize communication. Agents can also use Zendesk to proactively solve customer issues using real-time insights around customer intent and sentiment, leading to more helpful and efficient service.
This leads to a better CX, enhanced customer loyalty, and an improved bottom line. Most importantly, this can ensure that individuals receive a proactive experience—one that delivers what they want before they want it.
Businesses that invest in ICX principles and the next generation of technology have a competitive advantage over businesses that don’t. Offering a personalized and efficient CX will keep your current customer base happy and also reel in consumers looking for a similar experience.
Picture this: A consumer is deciding between two companies to make a purchase. Company A has a great product, but the only option for post-purchase customer service is a phone call. Company B also has a great product and offers AI chatbots, messaging services, omnichannel support, and a host of communication options. The right choice for the consumer is clear.
How to implement intelligent customer experiences into your organization
Adopting an ICX strategy requires a flexible approach that combines several elements. Here are some tips for implementing ICX into your organization.
- Embrace a customer-first philosophy
- Invest in the right tools
- Establish a highly trained workforce
- Measure and analyze performance
- Prioritize continuous improvement
The first step in overhauling a customer experience strategy is to embrace a customer-first approach. Being customer-first means putting the consumer at the center of organizational decision-making rather than simply focusing on profits or products. When businesses take this approach, they can tune in to their customers’ needs and deliver experiences they appreciate.
Businesses can’t deploy an effective ICX strategy without the right tools. Look for customer experience software that offers features like generative AI, chatbots, automation, analytics, and other important elements that can help your organization provide better customer experiences. Investing in the right CX partner is crucial for creating an ecosystem that supports and optimizes ICX initiatives.
You can have the most advanced ICX processes in your industry, but if you don’t have a skilled workforce to execute those initiatives, your strategy will fall flat. Provide ongoing training and development to ensure your team knows how to utilize automation, omnichannel communication, and other important ICX elements. A highly trained workforce provides the ever-important human touch in support interactions.
It’s important to define customer service key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your objectives and to track that information over time. These metrics can provide insights into the effectiveness of your strategy. After measuring and analyzing your KPIs, you can double down on what’s working and refine what isn’t.
As with any business strategy, an intelligent customer experience isn’t a “set and forget” approach. Regularly review your data, customer feedback, and other relevant metrics to identify areas of improvement. This gives your organization the agility to adapt to changing consumer trends and stay atop the marketplace.
Frequently asked questions
What is the role of AI in CX?
AI is a cornerstone of an intelligent customer experience. Businesses must harness this emerging technology to deliver seamless, high-quality support interactions that meet customer needs and expectations.
What is experience intelligence?
Experience intelligence signifies the strategic application of insights gleaned from previous experiences and lessons learned—especially from customer information—to bolster future decision-making. It allows businesses, for instance, to leverage historical customer data to deliver a more informed and proactive CX.
What is the difference between CX and ICX?
CX and ICX are similar concepts that rely on several strategies to deliver proactive customer experiences. The difference is that ICX harnesses emerging technologies like generative AI and automation to deliver those experiences.
What are the 4 components of customer experience?
There are many components of an effective customer experience. Four of them are strategy, customer understanding, consistent quality, and consumer touchpoints.
Build an intelligent customer experience with Zendesk
Just as the Wright brothers laid the foundation for space flight, CX laid the foundation for ICX. New ICX approaches, like generative AI and data-driven insights, are integral to executing elevated experiences. Still, you can’t harness the full power of ICX without the right partner.
At Zendesk, we’ve made a name for ourselves by helping thousands of businesses perfect their CX. We also empower businesses of all sizes to create an effective ICX strategy through AI, chatbots, omnichannel experiences, and more.
Start a free trial of Zendesk today to build a comprehensive ICX ecosystem that will impress your customers and improve your bottom line.