Recently, I met with a group of senior Fortune 500 folks (virtual of course) from Chief Experience Officers through to Directors of Contact Center Operations to discuss what they wanted from artificial intelligence in the coming year. Four key insights arose from the CXOs who see 2021 as an opportunity to realize the promise of artificial intelligence to radically improve customer experience.
Automation Creates Opportunity for an Emotive, Agent-Driven Service
While “automation” and “human-driven” seem like two opposing forces, what matters to everyone in CX is providing excellent customer service and representing a brand positively.
The industry is rethinking its approach to the traditional approach of solely considering automation for customer self-service. Automation can drive a better experience from customers by enabling agents to automate their repetitive tasks, so they can focus on customers and provide that brand experience.
Using artificial intelligence to personalize the customer journey can provide a customer’s contact history, their communication preferences and what they’ve communicated so far, to create rewarding experiences for customers. Automation can take over the administrative tasks from note-taking and summary notes while agents can spend more mental energy providing an emotive, high-touch, response to customer needs and be stronger brand ambassadors.
AI Can Drive Real-Time Insights for Supervisors and Coaching
Since the pandemic overtook our lives, an in-person presence and buddy shoulder-to-shoulder support disappeared. But managers did the best in the circumstances turning to kludgy methods of webcams or Slack posts to support agents. But it has still been difficult, and the introduction of new digital systems has added increasing complexity for all.
Now AI can power live voice transcription, which enables managers to view, supervise and support agents in real-time, guiding agents at the critical moment they need assistance. AI can then generate written reports and summaries that saves handling time and allow managers to understand where agents are facing challenges. With the AI analyzed data, managers can adjust strategy and coaching in real-time to nimbly respond to the business challenges they face.
In the near future, CXOs expect the confluence of AI technologies to determine caller intent more rapidly and assess customer’s emotional state to automatically route them to the best agent for that intent.
Measure What Matters: Data-Driven Decision Making
Thanks to the advance of machine learning, businesses are able scale pattern recognition and automation from their own data. Businesses are going beyond “bean-counting” to unearth correlation-driven insights to make data-fed business decisions. Mobile phone users are more willing to have synchronous conversations than desktop users – an insight which may affect routing processes. To detect these patterns, CX teams are looking to ensure that they have individuals with the knowledge to contextualize the data and to build systems to measure it.
However, in the effort to become a digital-first business, building a comprehensive data lake remains a challenge. Businesses are still struggling to compile timely, quality data at a granularity that can be integrated with other data sets. The preservation, and architecture, of legacy systems has led to continued data silos that makes it near-impossible for decision-makers to see the big picture in the customer journey. CX leaders are demanding more from their IT teams and service providers to streamline data to successfully arm businesses and teams to make changes.
And it’s not just technical IT teams who have a responsibility in building this data treasury. All employees have a role in ensuring that the business is flagging data for data driven decision making. The first step begins in making a cultural mind shift to view data as an important corporate asset.
AI and Digital Shouldn’t be Used With Yesterday’s Paradigm
Many of the à la carte solutions found in today’s contact centers were built for a past, when the only way for businesses to scale was to balance outsourcing—and we know what that can cost in customer experience. A decade ago, IVRs and chatbots offered a way to triage workloads but the customer experience was impacted. Today, many contact centers sustain a costly myriad of legacy systems and many realize that a hodge podge of technologies don’t provide for a cohesive customer experience. Leaders are looking for real transformation to improve customer experiences, which requires a rethink of how the customer journey operates.
IVRs and legacy systems may deliver cost savings, but they also exacerbate customer frustrations.
Chief Experience Officers are excited by a future driven by AI: making agents highly productive and happier by augmenting their work activity and removing the mundane repetitive parts of the job and allowing them to do what they do best: customer service. I can’t wait to see what new insights we’ll unearth at our next meeting.