Customer experience has been steadily evolving over the past decade, as new technologies come online and businesses try to provide a better service to customers in the most efficient way possible. AI has been seen as pivotal in this journey, driving more intelligent call handling and streamlining processes through automation.
To discuss this issue further, TechRadar Pro spoke to Craig Palmer, Director of Customer Experience Transformation EMEA from Verizon in our latest Q&A to find out how AI is impacting the modern contact centre environment and to identify what the core benefits and potential pitfalls are.
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Where and in what form is AI used in the contact centre environment?
Research from Gartner predicts that AI bots will power 85 percent of all customer service interactions by the year 2020. However, implementing this technology is just the first step in achieving market success.
Is AI affordable for any company that provides customer service?
Companies that make the most of a customer experience strategy that is augmented by AI powered chatbots need to identify and then track their metrics closely in order to make the most of them. For example, metrics play a huge part in customer engagement; satisfaction rates; confusion triggers; purchasing conversions and cost efficiencies.
By doing this, it not only allows them to justify the investment, but also highlight important market/spending trends and find areas where virtual agent performance could be improved.
What processes and requirements in contact centres can AI solutions help with?
For example, instead of the sheer number of chatbot interactions per conversation, measuring engagement could also entail tracking clicks on links to resources provided by the AI agent, or monitoring whether customer issues are resolved without human involvement.
Sometimes KPIs can be misleading. For example, longer interaction times with a virtual agent could mean that customers are highly engaged – or conversely that the process is too complex, and it is taking too long for them to get what they need. This is where satisfaction rates come in. Customers should be given the opportunity to rate their experience with online chatbots. A satisfaction survey can be as simple as a star rating, or entail more involved questions, depending on the level of feedback a company requires. Many businesses also offer a small incentive to customers, such as a gift card or discount, for providing feedback as a good-will gesture.
What are the pitfalls of chatbots in the contact centre experience?
That means it might be easy for a customer to get in contact with a bot, but it might not be a quick and simple process to get the information they want. In an ideal world, a chatbot would provide the right response to customers every time. However, the more likely scenario is that a chatbot may occasionally get confused by what customers are asking or requesting – often this is down to language or dialect misunderstandings. If the virtual agent can’t figure it out, then the inquiry will likely be routed to a real-life customer service professional.
It is important to be aware of these confusion triggers and monitor them in order to identify potential problems. Tracking when and how often chatbots respond with “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand” can help a business improve the technology to reduce confusion; knowing where and when these triggers are initiated. That, in turn, saves staff time and creates a better interaction overall.
How important is the human touch in an AI-powered contact centre?
Many tech leaders are looking to give their chatbots more character in order to retain engagement and turn an enquiry into a sale. In many cases, they’re doing that through comedy. Amazon Echo assistant Alexa tells jokes. Facebook’s weather bot, Poncho, sends amusing GIFs from old TV shows. And Google Home is hiring comedy writers from Pixar and The Onion to work on its latest bot dialogue.
When is the use of AI beneficial and when is it not?
How can contact centre managers find the right AI solution and how should it be implemented?
It can be beneficial to align the business with an experienced technology partner. They can address the specific business needs and customer experience challenges and obtain the right transformation path that will ultimately lead to the most effective use of new technologies. Get it right and chatbots could drive real improvements in CX, increase sales and provide a platform for innovative new products.
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