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What CX strategies will succeed in a world of AI platforms?

24th Jul 2019
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Three CX strategies to ensure non-tech brands can still thrive in an AI future.

When I talk to audiences and business around the world about the growth of AI platforms, one question I am often asked is how non-technology companies are going to survive. In a world where emerging technologies like AI are touching more and more areas of our lives, will companies who don’t have the same ‘digital DNA’ simply be left behind?

The answer is 'not necessarily', as long as the company focuses on creating a culture where adding value to the day-to-day lives of consumers is the top priority.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen some great examples of non-tech companies using AI in really interesting ways. Other businesses can learn a lot from these about surviving in a world of AI, with three key approaches to take – becoming a trusted ‘partner in life’ for their customers, partnering up with other companies, and appointing ‘friction hunters’ to improve customer relationships.

1. Become a ‘partner in life’

In many of my current presentations, I often talk about how companies should aim to automate the day-to-day life of their customers. And that’s true, but it is just about convenience and saving customers’ most valuable resource – time.

It’s now important for non-technology companies to embrace a similar idea, and aim to become a partner in the day-to-day life of their customers.

They do this not by just selling their stuff, but by recognising that what you sell is probably just part of a customer’s journey towards achieving a particular goal, however big or small. So, whether you’re working in financial services, hospitality or retail, ask yourself, what extra can your organisation do to help your customers achieve their goals more easily?

This kind of mindset it what will help your company become a preferred brand in the mind of more customers.

2. Work together

In the coming years, all companies will need technology and support in order to be a part of the AI ecosystem and philosophy. The truth is, that for many non-tech companies it will become more and more difficult to do this on their own. They will need talent and money.

This can already be seen even with huge companies today. BMW and Mercedes are two of the most prestigious car brands in the world, and have been leading brands for over 100 years. The two rivals are now working together to fight against newcomers like Uber and Lyft. These two former competitors have now started a company together, each investing about a billion Euros in the project.

This trend is something we are going to see more of – where companies work together, share investments and talent because there is simply too much scarcity in terms of vital resources, money and people.

Very soon, organisations will need the resources of tech companies in the same way they need electricity. They will need their power in order to create the benefits for customers that they simply cannot do on their own. This kind of ecosystem thinking means it is no longer company A versus company B, it’s ecosystem A against ecosystem B. As a business, you will need to figure out how you will add value to that ecosystem, and what role you will play in it.

3. Appoint friction hunters

‘Friction hunters’ are people who actively seek out the frictions that happen in the relationship between your company and its customers. If you sat with a group of five people today, you could probably easily come up with 20 or more friction points in the customer experience, but by appointing dedicated friction hunters you are creating a culture where you proactively spot and solve these issues all the time. The aim is to create an ‘offer you cannot refuse’ for the consumer – to make it so easy to work with you, that there is no desire to look at competitors.

By appointing dedicated friction hunters, people throughout your organisation will see you’re aiming for that ‘offer you cannot refuse’ state. This way, you can make sure that all your people across all departments begin to think that way all the time, and you can begin to build a culture that improves the customer relationship significantly.

When we talk about AI and emerging technologies it can be easy to lose sight of the most important thing - the customer.

But the combination of these three elements – ‘partner in everyday life’, partnering up with other companies and tech companies, and working in a culture of removing frictions and appointing friction hunters – can help every company to add more value to their relationship with customers. This is exactly what you will need to play a vital role in a world of AI platforms.

Prof. Steven Van Belleghem is an expert in customer focus in the digital world. He’s is an award-winning author, and his new book Customers The Day After Tomorrow is out now. Follow him on Twitter @StevenVBe, subscribe to his videos at or visit




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