Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a lunch discussion in Bellevue, Washington (a few miles east of Seattle) about the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in improving Customer Experience (CX). Leaders in business, government, and education participated, with the help of my co-hosts Bob Hayes and Bill Price.
Here are a few highlights from a very interesting and engaging discussion!
AI Isn’t Hot. Yet
The software vendor community is in marketing overdrive about all things AI right now. Business leaders? Not so much.
Yes, there are opportunities, but based on the discussion I’d say Seattle leaders think of AI as another opportunity for automation to improve customer experience. But there’s no mad rush.
Use Tech to Help People Serve People
The group was united in one thing — don’t look at AI as a way to replace humans. Much of the world still operates in brick and mortar, and people still like talking to people. Start by using AI to help people serve people more effectively.
For example, retailers see opportunities to empower agents in stores to better serve consumers that in many cases know more than the clerks. One executive of a prominent retailer said that it’s critical to be more proactive — to “go on offense instead of defense.” That means using technology to know recent activities across all channels and using prescriptive analytics to recommend actions.
Voice Recognition Opens Access
In this group, the main interest in voice recognition a la Alexa came from the public sector. Citizens don’t all have smart phones or tablets, so voice activated could increase access and keep costs low.
For business use, one business leader said voice recognition wasn’t accurate enough yet for general usage.
Analytics Skills Needed
There was general agreement that analytics is becoming a core skill requirement for modern managers and professionals. And local universities are seeing rising interest in quantitative courses. Still, for “hard core” skills most organizations will need to hire new talent.
CX strategists need to have a mix business and quantitative skills to be effective. Some organizations have sourced such talent from the ranks of management consultants.
Want to up your game in analytics? Bob Hayes recommended a University of Washington course “Calling Bullshit.” Check out the lectures available on YouTube and the course syllabus freely available online.