We’ve all been there, both in-store or on the phone, where the customer experience is so poor that you want to end your relationship with the brand instantaneously—right then and there.

How many times have we all had to endure long checkout lines or long holds with call centers because our online order was incorrect or our coupon expired? Probably too many.

From insurance and airline travel to healthcare and cable, examples of a broken customer experience can be found in every industry. In fact, for every one customer experience complaint received, it’s possible there are as many as 26 unhappy customers who are staying silent.

But I’m not keeping quiet. I work too hard for the money I pay to companies, and I have a strong disdain for complacency.

So, what can brands do to fix the customer experience and prevent customers from going to a competitor? The answer is probably much simpler than you think: Take the intimacy, connectivity and conversational experience from the in-person/offline world and inject it into the digital world.

Becoming a conversational brand and communicating through real-time, secure messaging is a major way that brands can win over frustrated customers.

Some brands attempt this with social media, and Twitter is one example of how interactions with brands help consumers feel somewhat connected. This connection is the start of an improved customer experience, an important “bridge” through which to share humorous content or be ushered along to resolve a transaction issue. From Wendy’s to Moon Pie, UPS, Drake’s, Amazon, Lincoln Center, Geico, Solera Holdings and more, these brands are making customers a bit happier by opening up a channel for communication that is direct, albeit totally unsecure.

In a world where consumers are the great disruptors, demanding instant gratification experiences like those provided by on-demand economy stalwarts like Uber and Netflix, brands need to take heed.

Conversations between brands and consumers—giving a sense of 24/7/365 connectivity like we feel with our friends and family—are transformative. They allow for the consolidation of once disparate channels to all be merged into a single conversational interface that makes things personal. Consumers love it. Brands need it. I am all about it.

Shifting the burden of “always-on,” always available messaging by the brand to people working for the brand is not the best idea, though. People make mistakes, they fall asleep and they often don’t really care enough (again, my complacency syndrome).

The solution to this problem is found somewhere buried in the over-hyped acronym: AI (or artificial intelligence). AI as a valuable customer experience solution should be used to develop automation for both outbound and reactive messaging to customers.

Automation of myriad tasks like tracking packages, paying bills, having questions answered, sending promotions and tracking loyalty is essential for an “on-demand” experience, and with persistent messaging in place, it brings immense return on investment and dramatic NPS (Net Promoter Score) improvement.

Highly secure and private, AI-backed conversational experiences will revolutionize customer service. They will enable brands to start developing real relationships with their customers. They will make brands available anywhere, anytime, on customers’
terms. In order for this to happen, the entire customer experience industry needs to bypass social media and go straight into messaging.

When a customer connects to Uber or Netflix on their phone, they do so through a secure and direct messaging pipe that bypasses many third parties and data pirates like Cambridge Analytica. This is essential for a future-proof on-demand customer experience strategy.

Often overlooked, something as simple as a highly secure message platform capable of transactions and content disseminations is imperative. Note to reader: This cannot be achieved through person-to-person social media platforms like Facebook or KiK. Through bad design, transacting in a compliance-based environment and sharing photos of your dog licking a popsicle cannot be achieved. Period.

A well-known brand that I have been impressed by with its on-demand customer experience plans is Lincoln Center. It started a multiphased rollout of automation, using secure messaging and AI to keep customers appraised of all that is Lincoln Center wonderful. Over time, this will extend to messaging out promotions, video teasers, audio recordings and ticket purchasing—all on the same single messaging platform that is a totally private network between Lincoln Center and a human being, anywhere, anytime.

It’s exactly from where I believe true customer experience excellence is born: Take the intimacy, connectivity and conversational experience from the offline world and inject it into the digital world.

We hear of AI every day. We hear about chat bots every minute. It’s all really designed to confuse you. My advice: Have a flexible, long-term vision for customer engagement. Find a problem—a simple problem—and start there. Then, install a messaging pipe
and use automation through AI to resolve that problem. And last, invite your customers to use this new conversational interface. You’ll see costs reduce and NPS improve instantaneously. Then, find the next problem and repeat.

It’s really that simple. At least 30 Fortune 500 companies I know of are proof of this. Welcome to the robotic revolution: Are you on board?