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Do We Need AI to Truly Transform the Customer Experience for the Better?

September 11, 2019 Jim Iyoob

According to a Gartner Report, 85% of customer interactions will take place without human involvement by 2020. Put simply, artificial intelligence is transforming the way companies interact with their customers. But, do we really need AI to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, or can we rely solely on human intelligence? To answer this question, here are some of AI’s transformative qualities and how they complement human intelligence.

Constant and Immediate Availability
When customers call customer service or initiate a chat, the wait time is longer without the help of artificial intelligence. Bots can at least begin the greeting process while customers wait for an available agent. Bots can also help to confirm what kind of help customers need, ensure they are communicating with the right department and redirect them if they’re not.

Forbes notes that because bots never need to sleep, they can handle these tasks even when there are no available agents, because it is outside of business operating hours. This is especially important for business with restrictive hours, such as the post office, banks or government institutions.

Artificial intelligence also reduces the pressure on contact centers to schedule more agents to work at nights. The Financial Times notes that night shifts present a fundamental biological challenge to the human body. People who work nights generally sleep less. Note that routinely getting less than six hours of sleep can increase mortality risks by 13%.

Improves the Work Process for Human Agents
Sorting calls and verifying that customers are on the right line is the less exciting part of customer service. It can also be the one most frustrating for customers because they hate to be transferred. When bots handle the sorting in chats or automated operators handle this on the phone, people can focus on aspects where human intelligence is best applied.

Humans are more urgently needed for the real people skills and creative problem-solving. These are the aspects where artificial intelligence may fall short, no matter how brilliant the coding is. Bots may, for instance, fail to understand a message riddled with typos or which is written by someone who does not speak English as a first language. Humans would pick up on these errors, whereas bots tend to need more specific parameters to act.

When bots can handle sorting, scheduling appointments and other small tasks, it further helps to make work easier for human agents. It reduces the bottleneck they may otherwise meet in the morning when they begin their shifts. Bots can also help to reduce the pressure when centers are short-staffed during an unexpected incident related to the client’s products and services, such as a service outage.

Provides Actionable Data and Predictions
Artificial intelligence may also provide personalized information on customers. Depending on how advanced the system is, this information may even include predictions based on a customer’s purchasing behavior. For example, agents may see current subscriptions, how long customers have done business with the company and even ratings on the likelihood of successfully upselling certain products and services.

By arming agents with this valuable information, it prepares them for higher levels of success in interactions. This is true even when the customer begins the conversation frustrated or upset. Forbes notes that this personalized data helps companies to tap into the coveted 1% of the customer pool. These are the highly discriminating customers worth more than 18 times the value of a regular buyer.

One bank even uses it to maintain unsolicited but helpful contact with customers. When a customer of the Royal Bank of Scotland continuously overdrafts their account, bots flag the account for a follow-up. The best employee for the job then calls the customer to offer financial advice.

The Bottom Line: The Argument for AI in Business
Put simply, artificial intelligence is an indispensable part of transforming the customer experience for three main reasons:
• It reduces the cost companies would otherwise sustain for providing 24/7 customer support and a strong commitment to customer satisfaction.
• It reduces the workload for customer service agents, while increasing their effectiveness through personalized data.
• It keeps customers happy. It does this by helping companies to better cater to a buyer’s individual needs, while being available right around the clock.

At Etech, we are in the people business. We believe that the role of AI in transforming customer experience is to complement the work of our amazing team by taking over menial work. This allows workers to shine at the tasks that require creativity and interpersonal skills. For more information on how we use artificial intelligence at our contact centers, email us at info@etechgs.com.

This blog was earlier published on LinkedIn.