For businesses, customer experience isn’t just important; it’s the cornerstone on which competitive advantage is built. In a recent study, 59% of post-Covid consumers care MORE about customer experience when they decide which company to buy from than they did before. In other words, customer experience will dictate purchasing in 2021.
To put yourself in an optimal position to deliver quality and relevant experiences that consumers both expect and deserve, your brand must process and analyze enormous volumes of data, often in real time. You also must be able to act on those insights in a timely and cost-effective manner. The easiest and quickest way to do both is with automation.
Thanks to the huge impact that artificial intelligence (AI) has on our daily lives, there’s little doubt the customer experience (CX) of tomorrow will be even more enhanced by both machine learning and customization. In recent years, contact centers have shifted focus from voice-only to integrating omnichannel assets like chat bots, in-app support and speech analytics to provide right person, right time interactions. With the current revolution centered on contactless experiences, the sprint toward data-driven automation is faster than ever.
Automation Is Your Friend
Modern customers have high expectations for support experiences. Who doesn’t want service that’s as instant as it is accurate? Many support providers provide automated self-help via websites and sophisticated algorithms that offer the correct answer to any query as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The motivation behind this push towards AI involves a combination of factors: Better and faster responsiveness, self-service convenience, higher agent productivity and, in many cases, lower costs. AI is proven to be a viable way to accomplish these goals, essentially all at the same time.
The most basic example of AI is the use of automated responses to frequently asked questions. This approach usually results in deflecting the need for human support altogether. An increase in the use of self-support means issues that do reach a live person are more complex, and first contact resolution (FCR) may suffer as a result. Now that basic questions are effectively resolved by AI, the old days of ‘tier 1’ are gone. Today the first interaction with a live person is likely to be a ‘tier 2’ topic. So how do contact centers gain true synergy between AI and live staff? AI can be used to route inquiries to the right person, or to interpret incoming messages and develop initial responses that can later be edited by live agents. This not only shortens wait time and handle time, it also satisfies customer expectations.
Digitizing customer conversations is a best practice for any contact center. Machine learning applications, like speech and text analytics, not only preserve the conversation; these tools also deliver categorizations and insights into key factors like contact drivers, next-best actions and obstacles to resolution. Agents are better able to understand those interactions and use actionable tactics to better serve customers. It’s a perfect way to find out what is working and, more importantly, what isn’t.
People Plus Technology Wins
None of this is to say, however, that AI is a way to replace frontline support agents. Far from it. The most successful support environment operates with a combination of people, process and technology. Examples abound where humans and technology come together to form something far more efficient than either could be on their own:
- Skill-Based Routing: Skill-based routing typically occurs via an automated assistant, category selection or pre-chat form presented to the user. Data embedded in a mobile device or account tagging identifies who the person is. Then AI routes the customer to an agent group most highly trained about that particular issue. This bypasses the need for a caller to self-select in an IVR, wait in queue and finally get to an agent – only to realize they need to be transferred.
- Need-Based Routing: In this instance, AI is used to anticipate a customer’s needs. Are they waiting for a package delivery scheduled for today? Automation can proactively generate and provide the delivery details. Have they recently changed addresses? AI can send instructions for where to can get product upgrades and in-person support in their new city.
- User-Based Routing: A higher-order level of support, user-based routing directs customers to the same service member they dealt with in the past. With user-based routing, things take on a personalized feel for a shared set of interactions. This helps create a more meaningful and pleasurable customer experience across the board.
Today even smaller contact centers can leverage artificial intelligence to their advantage. The true differentiator that separates one brand from the next relies less on product quality and service reliability, and more on the nature of customer experiences provided. For savvy brands willing and able to stay ahead of these trends, it’s truly an exciting place to be. For more information, contact us today!