How Artificial Intelligence and the Customer Experience Intersect

These days, customer experience isn’t just important – it’s essential to everything that you’re doing as a brand. It’s the cornerstone upon which your competitive advantage will be built, even in the must cutthroat of industries. According to one recent study, a massive 67% of customers say that they’d be willing to pay more for a great customer experience – and that’s if the products and services they were paying for didn’t change one iota.

To put themselves in a better position to deliver the personalized, quality and relevant experience that today’s consumers have come to both expect, brands must be able to process and analyze the enormous volumes of data that are now available to them. If you want to offer the best experience possible, it stands to reason that you need to know as much as you can about how you’re offering it to.

Likewise, brands must be able to act on those insights in the most timely and cost-effective manner possible, all in the name of positively impacting customer experience while managing costs and resources as well.

In the not-too-distant future, thanks largely to the impact that only Artificial Intelligence (AI) can bring to the table, there is no doubt that the customer experience of tomorrow will be significantly enhanced via both automation and customization. In fact, contact centers are already shifting their focus away from voice and prioritizing assets like chat bots and other digitized forms of communication for that very reason.

Enter the Era of Self-Service and Automation

Modern day customers understandably have high expectations for their support experience. Who doesn’t want service that is as instant as it is accurate? Many contact centers are embracing these needs with open arms, providing automated help for customers via websites and sophisticated algorithms that can offer the correct answer to any query as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is poised to take this idea one step further. With AI, when a customer interacts with a chat bot, that interaction is almost human in nature. Indeed, many customers don’t realize that they aren’t talking to real employees at all.

The motivation behind this push towards AI in customer contact centers involves a combination of factors: better or faster customer service, convenience with customer self-service, higher agent productivity and, in many cases, lower costs. AI is a viable way to accomplish all of these goals, essentially all at the same time.

Examples of this can be seen all over, the most basic is the use of automated responses to frequently asked questions. This approach usually results in deflecting the support need to a human altogether.  Yet with basic questions answered by AI the old days of ‘tier 1’ are gone and the 1st interaction with a live person is typically already a ‘tier 2’ topic. An increase in the use of self-support or FAQs means the issues that do reach a live person are more complex and first-call resolutions my suffer as well. Both of these things realities are true, and aim for the exact same goal: a decrease in service costs across the board.  Let’s explore how contact centers are achieving a true synergy between AI and their live staff.

Contact centers where humans rely on artificial intelligence for assistance are seeing similar gains, albeit in a slightly different way. AI can be used to route inquiries to the right person, for example, or to interpret incoming messages and develop initial responses that can later be edited by live, human agents.

This not only shortens the call wait time and call handling times significantly, but also satisfies customer expectations as well.

The Power of Digitizing Conversations

As time marches on, more and more companies are going to try to digitize conversations between their agents and their customers. This, too, is important for a number of reasons.

First, digitizing lets conversations be preserved so that they can later be further analyzed through the use of AI and machine learning. This lets agents better understand those interactions and use that actionable information to better serve customers in the future.

In other words, it’s a perfect way to find out what is working and, more importantly, what isn’t. Call centers are now in the best possible position to double down on the former and get rid of the latter.

Anticipating Customer Needs is Critical

None of this is to say, however, that AI should be seen as a way to replace human support agents. Far from it. The most common support environment will soon become a combination of technology and those human contacts.

Examples of this are found all over the customer experience, where humans and technology come together to form something far more efficient than either could be on their own:

  • The skills-based routing of support, for example, usually happens through some type of automated assistant, category selection, or pre-chat form presented to the user via the data embedded in the mobile device or account that a person is longing in from. Once contact with a merchant is establish, AI can be used to route someone to the right agent group that is the most highly trained and knowledgeable about the particular issue they’re calling about. So if they need to speak to sales, they automatically get routed to someone in that department versus technical support or customer service.
  • Need-based routing is a slightly different idea, one in which AI can be used to anticipate a customer’s needs. Is someone who already has an established relationship with your company looking for more information about a package that should be out for delivery today? In that case, you can proactively provide them with delivery details. If they still want to speak to an agent, they can be automatically routed to someone who already has their most recent order details up on screen. With this technique, artificial intelligence can be used to predict someone’s most likely need based on A) their current activity, B) their current reservation, or C) their historical support interactions.
  • User-based needs are maybe the ultimate example of this idea. It’s a way to let all of your agents operate like they know exactly who they’re talking to… or at least, to give them immediate access to the data they need to make it appear that way. AI lets user-based routing occur to direct customers to the same service members they’ve dealt with in the past automatically. Far too often, people need to provide information like their name, phone number, email address or customer account number over and over again. With user-based routing, things can take on a different context. Your agents can literally say something to the effect of “oh hello Kyle, last time you called I see you were concerned about X, how did that work out for you?” This helps create a more personal – and pleasurable – customer experience across the board.

All three of these ideas are right at home in the modern call center environment, and your customers are going to start expecting them a lot sooner than you realize.

In the end, it’s important to realize that many of these advancements are a lot closer to coming to fruition than people realize. There will come a day sooner rather than later where even the smallest of call centers are able to leverage artificial intelligence to their advantage. At that point, the true value differentiator that separates one brand from the next will no longer be the quality of the products or the reliability of the services that you offer.

It will be the nature of the customer experience that nobody else can provide quite like you can. Everything else will become secondary – and for savvy brands who are ready and willing to stay ahead of these types of trends, make no mistake this is a truly exciting position to be in.

The Goodbay Technologies Approach

At Goodbay Technologies, we’ve worked hard to become more than just another in a long line of call center outsourcing providers. Anybody can handle your immediate needs in the most literal, short-term way. Instead, we want to focus on the bigger picture – and the value that artificial intelligence can bring to an organization like yours.

Not only do we always take the time to learn as much about our customers as we can, but we do so in a way that allows us to apply the best that modern technology has to offer in a way that is wholly unique to those organizations. What you’re left with is the type of infrastructure that isn’t just optimized for your people and your processes, but one that even your fiercest of competitors won’t be able to match.

In other words, we don’t want to just provide you with “human bots.” We want to help you construct the rock solid foundation upon which the next decade of success for your business will be built.

At that point, your competitors aren’t something you should be worried about any longer. Just the opposite, in fact – they should be worried about you.

If you’d like to find out more information about the closely connected relationship between artificial intelligence and the future of the customer experience, or if you’d just like to discuss the specifics of your own needs with an expert in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact us at Goodbay Technologies today.