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Using AI to Enhance Customer Experience: Capital One’s Guiding Principles

AI-Powered Customer Experience

Here’s how companies can leverage the voice of the customer when building an AI-powered customer experience strategy that aligns with business priorities.

With conversations between brands and customers spanning fragmented channels scattered across social media, surveys, phone calls, and more, listening to customers at scale used to be an all but impossible task. Until recently. Thanks to new advances in technology, even global enterprises like Capital One — which has more than 40 million customers and has received millions of customer surveys with text responses — can tap artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze key data at lightning fast speeds to enable real-time decision making. 

When many brands set out to launch customer listening using AI and machine learning, however, they often think about how they can leverage the voice of the customer to align with their business priorities and deliver key business outcomes. In fact, the most important and more effective approach is to harness the power of this intelligence to drive customer experiences and improve customer outcomes that in turn bring those desired business outcomes and often much more.

“We are the listeners,” explained Anne Louise Mason, Consumer Intelligence at Capital One during the Medallia webinar, Using AI to Help in a Customer Crisis. “It is our job to listen, internalize, and respond to what our customers are telling us, on a broad and individual level.”

An overall leader across industries in using technology to capture the voice of the customer and improve customer experiences, banking and financial services giant Capital One worked with Medallia to transform and redesign its text analytics program, evolving its TA program to reflect its customer-centered approach.

“When we think about an environment as big and as complex as Capital One, or as any other business, we realize we are trying to find patterns, and we are trying to make it easy to listen and absorb something that can feel incredibly chaotic,” Mason shared.

AI-Powered Customer Experience

Capital One has been able to uncover trends and emerging patterns in customer experiences, unexpected feedback about the company it hadn’t anticipated, the human emotions customers are feeling at every stage of the customer journey, what’s working (and what’s not) with its app and website, segments of customers that are in critical need of help, and how to better anticipate future customer issues.

Here are the three guiding principles that Capital One uses for its customer listening initiatives.

#1. Be human — Listen first. Focus on customer voice.

When listening to its customers, Capital One pays attention to the keywords it uses — looking for common themes, the attributes of the conversations — the emotional or personal element of what’s being said, and the overall experience, with the goal of evaluating whether the company has been there for its customers at every step of the journey.

Going beyond just the words people use and digging into understanding the emotional context of every conversation has allowed Capital One to become a better listener, Mason explained.

“They tell us what they love,” she added. “They tell us what they hate. They tell us what causes stress. They share their wants and their needs. And we invested heavily in identifying how we could understand these moments that matter, not just from a business and analytical perspective but in a way that really allows us to create change across our portfolio.”

#2: Plan for action. Commit to the outcome. Develop a scalable process.

While in the past companies may have simply become bogged down by the process of reading over millions of comments to figure out what customers are trying to say, AI makes it possible to find out the meaning behind what’s being said quickly, and move on to the next critical step: planning and prioritizing how to respond.

Among the feedback the company has gathered from millions of surveys is plenty of overwhelmingly positive comments about the Capital One app. Still, the team was able to identify those experiences where customers were unable to resolve their issue immediately and needed to make a customer support call. This insight enabled the team to make improvements in the app and address customer experience issues at the source.

#3: Analyze and evolve. Apply analytical rigor. Embrace inclusive change.

“It’s important to recognize that listening is never finished,” Mason said. “There will always be ways companies can continue to adapt, as new topics emerge and trends develop.”

For its part, Capital One is exploring customer feedback analysis across the company. Recognizing that people communicate in a variety of ways, the company is making sure its AI analysis is inclusive and set up to support important regional and language differences, accounting for variations between UK and US English and adding Spanish and French to the languages it analyzes. 

Another way to keep evolving? Brands can leverage machine learning not just to understand the existing needs and preferences of customers, but to proactively identify their future needs, often by pinpointing signals that suggest additional support or resources may be needed. 

Capital One is using its voice of the customer insights to more effectively support customers — including those who may, perhaps for the first times in their lives, be unable to make their payments on time — with a goal of ensuring the company has the right resources to assist them and better position them for financial success. 

Want to create your own AI-powered customer experience strategy? Download the Medallia white paper “3 ways AI is powering customer experience” and learn how to use AI to uncover insights faster, predict current sentiment and future behavior, and more.