It’s time to get to grips with AI in customer service and what we should expect to see for the rest of 2024. Zendesk’s CX Trends 2024 report pulls back the curtain on this dynamic shift, revealing how AI reshapes how businesses connect with customers. 

In this blog, we unpack Zendesk’s statistical findings and intertwine insights from our own reports, offering a multi-dimensional view of AI’s impact on CX. Explore the latest trends where AI meets human ingenuity, crafting experiences that are more personalised, efficient, and transparent than ever before.

Trend 1: Quick and Personal AI

Picture this: a customer interaction so uniquely tailored it mirrors the personal familiarity of a local coffee shop. That’s the aim of generative AI in CX. It’s not just about efficiency; it’s about connection, turning every interaction into a testament to a business’s understanding and commitment to its customers.

Generative AI promises to scale the charm of small local businesses to global enterprises, offering personalised interactions to millions. Over two-thirds of CX organisations see AI as the key to delivering this personalised touch, fundamentally changing how customers perceive and engage with businesses.

70% of CX leaders say that generative AI has led their organisations to take a step back and re-evaluate their entire customer experience. – Zendesk CX Trends 2024

In our report, How to Meet Evolving Customer Expectations, we discuss the demand for empathetic, personalised service that must be balanced with efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Service organisations must use AI to boost agent efficiency while navigating the complexities of modern customer service.

Zendesk found that a whopping 59% of stakeholders anticipate a significant shift in how customers interact with companies within two years, a figure that jumps to 75% among those who’ve already experienced AI’s impact.

CX isn’t just a transaction but a relationship. Armed with AI and advanced CRM, businesses are set to become trusted partners, ready to redefine customer engagement at every touchpoint.

Trend 2: Introducing Super Chatbots

Chatbots are no longer clunky, mechanical responders. They are on their way to becoming sophisticated digital agents brimming with personality and a deep understanding of customer needs, but they’re not quite there yet. 

Just 22% of leaders say their chatbots are akin to digital agents, but a significantly larger number, 58%, expect that to change in 2024. – Zendesk CX Trends 2024

These super chatbots are starting to convey brand traits in a personable manner and address complex issues with a finesse that rivals human agents. An impressive 72% of industry insiders assert that their chatbots should mirror the brand’s identity, infusing every interaction with the essence of the company’s values and voice.

However, it’s not merely about parroting the brand’s voice. It’s about chatbots enhancing their capacity to deliver information swiftly and tailor responses to fit the customer’s context in their journey. Consumers are noticing, too, that top-tier chatbots are invaluable allies that introduce exciting products and offer practical information. 

With 70% of CX leaders convinced that chatbots are becoming adept architects of personalised customer journeys, the trajectory is clear: chatbots are on the brink of becoming indispensable in shaping the customer experience.

Investment in AI is a crucial step that will expedite chatbot evolution, enhancing its ability to provide personalised suggestions and manage intricate queries with a human-like touch. These AI-powered digital agents are set to redefine what it means to connect, understand, and deliver in the digital age.

Trend 3: The AI Divide in CX Teams

In our latest report, How to Increase Marketing ROI with CRM Tech, AI and Client Data, we discuss the AI trust gap between CX leaders and customer-facing agents. 

While executives embrace this new AI era, agents are concerned about the lack of AI training and, ultimately, their job security. Will we learn how to use a new tool only to be replaced by it?

On one side stand CX leaders, champions of AI, seeing it as a linchpin in the evolution of customer service. They envision AI not as a disruptor but as a vital ally in enhancing engagement and operational efficiency. Yet, despite their enthusiasm, a stark contrast emerges on the ground. Agents express reservations, tinged with concerns about AI’s impact on their roles and the adequacy of their training to wield this new tool effectively.

Only a quarter of agents feel that AI tools bolster their service delivery, revealing a significant gap in perception versus reality.

While 65% of leaders view AI as a strategic necessity, only 34% of agents fully grasp their department’s AI strategy, signalling a disconnect in usage and fundamental understanding and acceptance. – Zendesk CX Trends 2024

The path forward is clear: bridging this divide requires a concerted effort in training and trust-building. Over half of the agents claim they’re left in the dark, lacking adequate training. Satisfaction levels are low for those who receive it, with only 21% feeling content with their AI education.

For AI to reach its full potential in enhancing CX, it must be seen not as a threat but as a means to elevate human capabilities, not supplant them. Involving teams in the AI journey, clarifying how AI will reshape roles for the better, and demonstrating its bias-free, effective outcomes are crucial steps in fostering a culture of AI acceptance.

Trend 4: The Imperative of AI Transparency

Transparency in AI’s workings and decisions is paramount. This trend underscores a fundamental shift towards openness, ensuring that the intricate dance of data and algorithms in AI is not a behind-the-curtains act but a clear process.

75% of organisations recognise that opacity in AI could significantly increase customer churn. – Zendesk CX Trends 2024

In a world where nearly half of consumers struggle to differentiate between AI and human interactions, the call for transparency is loud and clear. It comes down to fostering deep-seated trust with customers and assuring them that their personal, often sensitive information is treated with the utmost respect and care.

We’re not suggesting that customer service organisations overwhelm customers with technical jargon about the inner workings of AI models. But it is important to provide a clear, high-level understanding of AI’s role in their interactions. Why is AI recommending this product? How is it personalising the service? Consumers deserve answers. 

With only 22% of customers feeling that AI effectively explains its suggestions, there’s a pressing need to bridge this gap, ensuring customers are informed and confident in the AI-driven decisions that affect their choices. Companies must be transparent about the data fueling their AI and diligent in ensuring these models are free from biases that could lead to harmful outcomes.

Our latest report echoes these sentiments and emphasises the necessity of documenting AI’s decision-making process. Such meticulous tracking demystifies AI for stakeholders and reinforces the systematic, logical nature of its operations. Transparency in data sourcing and usage further solidifies this trust, ensuring AI operates within a framework of integrity and confidentiality.

Transforming your Customer Experience with AI

As we navigate these four pivotal trends, it’s clear that AI’s role in customer experience is essential. From fostering personal connections at scale to redefining chatbots as digital confidants, bridging the AI literacy gap among CX teams, and championing transparency in AI operations, the landscape of customer engagement is evolving rapidly. Businesses that embrace these trends and integrate AI seamlessly and thoughtfully into their CX strategies will thrive in this new era.

Zendesk’s report, coupled with our own insights, paints a vivid picture of a future where AI and human creativity converge to create excellent customer experiences. As we move forward, the onus is on businesses to leverage AI as a tool and as a catalyst for building deeper, more meaningful customer relationships. In doing so, they’ll elevate their customer service and set new benchmarks in the industry, demonstrating that when technology and empathy intersect, the possibilities are boundless.

Interested in learning more about AI in marketing? Download our full report here.