In my previous blog “Closing the gaps that stand in the way of an exceptional customer experience”, I identified the three main gaps that can exist between your organization and delivering the best possible customer experience for your customers.
In this blog, I follow up with a deeper look into the role of AI in contact centers and how it can be used to address the context gap, the best action gap, and the resource gap that can stand in the way of reaching the intertwined end goals of maximizing customer satisfaction, while simultaneously minimizing operational costs.
The context gap is often the biggest barrier in the way of personalization – and the irony is that in this case, an overabundance of data can be one of the problems.
Consumers are sharing more information than ever about ourselves, our history, our preferences, and interests. Unfortunately, these insights are often located across multiple technology platforms and change in real time as a consumer experiences new things that can affect their mood and sentiment. Artificial intelligence provides the ability to capture information in real-time, understand the impact of that data on an individual’s journey, and turn that insight into action faster than any human could by tailoring an individual’s service experience.
Personalization is the panacea at the intersection of a strong understanding of your customer, their journey, and the situation at hand. It is a strategy of tailoring experiences based on the unique attributes and intents of each individual.
By applying heuristics and known patterns, AI can tell your agents how best to address this customer’s needs. Or better yet, it enables you to empower your customers to resolve their needs through your digital and self-service channels.
Do you remember a time when you had to guess the right search query to feed into your search engine so you could find what you wanted? Hopefully, even if you do remember that time, you don’t do this anymore. The bar has been raised in terms of how customers ask for what they want. Don’t make your customer conform to your internal hierarchy of products and services, or worse – the structure of your support organization.
The richness of digital channels has forever changed the expectation of consumers by providing a simpler experience. Digital user experiences can be tailored to enable individuals to accomplish their goals more quickly and on their terms and time. As a result, consumers demand answers to their questions and needs without ever needing to interact with a human.
Conversational interaction with digital applications is a rapidly advancing capability that AI affords; whether the connected home, vehicles, mobile phones, or other smart devices, the ability of AI to understand the intent of requests and fulfill our needs on demand is creating an expectation that these experiences will span all the ways we work, live, and play.
This real-time understanding, coupled with personalization information, creates a dynamic experience for an individual focused on meeting their need. Immersive, end-to-end self-service experiences in digital channels reduce the need to engage live agents to fulfill customer needs.
To deliver on this simple and personalized digital interaction, it’s critical for your systems to properly understand what it is your customer wants. You need to understand their intent to understand how to best address their need.
Enter AI. By leveraging AI to understand the intent of the customer’s engagement, your business can move away from traditional skills-based routing to a more effective routing model where customers can be matched with the right resource, either digital or physical (an agent) based on real-time intent, context, and resource availability.
An agent is not always the best match to meet the service needs of a customer; a video that prescriptively guides a consumer through the answer to their question could be a better fit for their engagement style or a virtual assistant that can quickly present the right information faster than any human could.
Automation through AI-powered digital engagement enables organizations to collaborate with consumers proactively about customer service-impacting events so that a consumer is not surprised about an issue and then penalized for putting in the effort to call a contact center. Artificial intelligence applications can listen for information and events across many different sources to track patterns of data that help determine the next best action for a specific person.
For example, if an exception occurs, AI can detect that event and engage the correct service resources to resolve the issue before a customer even knew it happened. A proactive strategy for customer experience reduces the effort a consumer expends when acquiring, using, or supporting a product or service. This reduces organizations’ dependency on manual processes or live assistance to support common tasks or questions. And it frees up resources to focus on more complex interactions or focused revenue-growing consumer engagement.
The combination of these AI-powered capabilities is just one of the reasons that Aragon Research recently named Cisco a leader in intelligent contact centers for our Webex Contact Center solution. Download their full report here to learn more.
The next blog in this series will explore AI-enhanced agent capabilities and how they can also enable improved customer experience management. In addition, I’ll take a look at how AI can identify behaviors and actionable insights for even more informed customer journey mapping.