Customer Experience and Artificial Intelligence – a match made in heaven?
We’ve all been there – something has gone wrong with a service you use – say your mobile phone or your electricity supply. Grumbling with frustration, you try to reach help via the service providers’ website. A little chat box opens up and you think – aha – there’s a person there who can give me a hand. Instead, it quickly dawns on you that you’re speaking to a chatbot – a very basic, limited response excuse for ‘artificial intelligence’ that not only is incapable of understanding your very human frustration but – more often than not – the basic issue you’re facing as a customer.
Customer experience buster
Many of you reading this article will experience being a customer and providing a service for customers. Whether you are customer facing, most businesses that utilise Gamma solutions are – in some way – dealing with end users. This can lead to a sense of frustration professionally: how can you provide the level of service that you would expect if you were in the customer’s shoes? From top to bottom, empathy – that lovely human ability – drives an organisation’s ability to provide a great customer experience. From onboarding a customer to saving someone wanting to cancel their service, it is the human aspect that underpins everything. Or, to put it in much simpler terms, it takes one to know one.
I’ll be back
What does any of that have to do with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and its relationship to CX (Customer Experience)? Well, it all boils down to this: how on earth can a chatbot or even a rudimentary conversational AI experience empathy? Having correctly identified empathy as the crucial cog around which CX pivots, it stands to reason that placing customers in the hands of soulless machines would be an anathema to everything a CX expert stands for. And yet, we see businesses doing this all the time. It’s not even new – before the chatbots we had pre-recorded voice menus driving customers mad on the phone. One wonders how many customers were lost going elsewhere, simply looking for the empathetic embrace of a human agent?
Trust me, I’m an AI
These are not unsubstantiated opinions. Indeed, 76% of consumers highlight the importance of service providers showing empathy. To compound this, 56% of consumers have said they’ll go elsewhere if they lose trust in a service provider. Those numbers are huge. The issue is critical, clearly. So what can be done? Well, the future is coming, and that future is conversational, generative artificial intelligence. The biggest movers and shakers in the world are currently partnering with innovative start-ups pursuing these technological avenues. The AI being developed will not only be able to respond to customers in a way that improves CX but will be able to identify if and when customers should be transferred to a human agent – without the customer getting frustrated and requesting it themselves. Then, the AI will switch over to assisting the human agent, meaning there will be a continuity of contact between the AI, the agent and the customer.
The AI being developed will not only be able to respond to customers in a way that improves CX but will be able to identify if and when customers should be transferred to a human agent.
AI must blend with the human agent to complete the process with greater speed, accuracy and efficiency.
Even in 2019, 74% of consumers expected to deal with a chatbot. This does not mean they expected to like it, but at least they were aware it could happen. As time has gone on, technology has improved and we are now at the edge of what some have called the Fourth Industrial Revolution – in which AI will take over a great number of repetitive, more process driven roles. Counter-intuitively, one of these roles is customer service. Apart from the empathy aspect, much of the customer experience landscape involves taking a customer through a variety of unchanging processes – indeed, this is why many customers can now order products entirely by themselves online. Sales CX expectations are very different to complaints or problems CX expectations of course, and this is mainly where the problem lies. As with truth, sometimes solutions lie somewhere in-between two extremes: in this case, all human, or no human – save them all or replace them all? How about a middle ground solution in which both work together?
of consumers in 2019 expected to deal with a chatbot.
Of course, the term hybrid-working has been used to describe where people work, as opposed to how people work. In this case, it fits both equally – a hybrid of human and artificial intelligence working together in unison to deliver a more efficient and still empathetic customer experience. It is absolutely imperative that – with the increased volume of customers reaching out to businesses with issues – businesses can respond authentically. Where a solely human based team may struggle to efficiently handle higher volumes of customer contact, filtered and prioritised ticketing through AI with further AI assistance during the actual customer contact takes the pressure off. In a sense, the AI is acting as triage, and then as assistant – able to identify those customers who may be more likely to walk away, and get them through to a human agent faster. Once with a human, the AI blends with the human agent, allowing them to complete the process with greater speed, accuracy and efficiency.
Customer service is a difficult and stressful job. Employee retention is a challenge for many businesses. Indeed, a massive benefit of integrating artificial intelligence into the customer experience is retaining skilled human employees. Artificial intelligence will make customer service agents’ lives much easier, increase their confidence and certainly boost their well-being by helping them to feel that they’ve done a good job. Happy, retained customers are only one benefit of this new and emerging facet of hybrid working. Full circle improvement – happier employees and more satisfied customers – is a win-win for all involved.
Kill them with kindness
Clearly, the end of the world won’t be at the hands of Terminators, but rather extremely helpful artificial intelligence that follows the mantra – be helped or be killed. On a more serious note, however, it is clear that businesses need to adapt to a changing world – a world where customers expect a blend of artificial intelligence, human empathy and machine assisted efficiency. Employees are going to begin to expect this sort of support and assistance as standard, much in the way we now expect to have a computer and phone on our desks. Forward thinking businesses should be planning now for how their contact centres will look in the near future – or risk losing customers and employees to more ‘on the ball’ competitors.
Forward thinking businesses should be planning now for how their contact centres will look in the near future – or risk losing customers and employees to more ‘on the ball’ competitors.
of UK customers say that they are more loyal to companies that offer a good customer experience. See how Gamma can guide you to the right solution to suit your business needs.