We’ve all seen the attention-grabbing headlines about Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Telegraph’s headline in April this year asserted ‘AI is the future of Customer Experience’. Digital transformation of the customer experience has seemingly become the silver bullet.
AI in its current form is only part of the solution. AI requires a deeper understanding of customer needs so that it is an enabler rather than the answer for its own sake. The balance of AI vs. human interactions in the Customer Experience needs to be carefully orchestrated.
Chatbots currently account for business cost savings of $20m globally. This is projected to increase significantly. According to new research recently published, Chatbots will cut business costs by circa $8 billion by 2022. Savings driven through redeployment of employees and a lower interaction cost delivered by AI.
This same study highlights that between 75% and 90% of queries in sectors such as healthcare and banking will be handled by Chatbots within the next 5 years.
Currently Chatbots lack the ability to deal comprehensively with all human problems and queries. Bots can give customers speedy answers on chat, phone, website, text or social media. They can answer routine, common questions that customer service agents are asked every day. Some organisations are already seeing an immediate impact on their customer service stats.
The success rate of Bot interactions where there has been no human intervention, is currently just 12% . A series of tests conducted have revealed that, examined against the human IQ, Bots intelligence is currently that of a 4-year-old child. Naturally, there will be advancements in AI that will signify more human like capabilities, presenting the opportunity to replace more and more traditional customer service type activities.
Hilton Hotels give an example of how a number of day to day customer service interactions can be interchanged with a Bot. “Connie” is a concierge robot who interacts with guests. She answers their questions about hotel amenities, services and hours of operation and assists guests in a friendly way. The more guests that Connie interacts with, the cleverer she becomes; she adapts, improves and personalises her recommendations.
The extent to which, and how quickly AI will replace human interactions and optimise the customer experience will depend to an extent on the industry sector to which it is applied. A human touch will be necessary in healthcare for a long time to come for clinical decision-making given the absence of the widely available and extensive clinical knowledge data. What’s for sure, is that Chatbots have the ability to process data in higher volumes and can respond to straightforward, less complex queries. So, more and more companies will inevitably offload basic and generic customer service and customer care type activities.
In order to maximise the benefit of AI, companies need to determine how AI will fit into their overall customer experience and how the various touch points (Chatbots and technology included) within the business can and will work together to deliver what their customers need and expect both functionally and emotionally.
There are six factors for successfully designing a connected digital and human experience.
1. The role of AI in the customer experience is well-defined
2. The touch points which can best deliver what customers’ needs functionally and emotionally are agreed and prioritised
3. The implications for optimisation of the current delivered customer experience are recognised
4. The implications for innovation and transformation of the customer experience in the future are defined
5. The way in which the physical and digital touch points will work hand in hand and complement each other is clarified
6. The limitations of digital and human/physical touch points are established
I’ve used a journey mapping approach with many clients in sectors as diverse as healthcare, automotive, travel and telecom’s. Despite some people’s cynicism that journey mapping may have had its day; my view is that there is more need for it than ever. Not only does it help organisations navigate, manage and optimize their multi-touchpoint experience, it also ensures that they work seamlessly together. It also places the customer at the heart of all development work, even if they are not physically present. The stories that journey maps tell visually, done well, are a perfect way to engage the organisation around the customer; their needs, expectations and emotions. It also helps root any technology initiatives in the reality of the customer experience.
Acknowledge the current limitations of AI, recognise the potential and root initiatives in the customer journey. After all, it’s not a coincidence that companies who use a customer journey management approach realise 50% greater YoY growth without.
Seamless, effortless and personal engagement = Happy customers
Cost savings and technology exploitation = Smiling companies