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User Experience And The Untapped Potential Of AI

How can artificial intelligence improve the quality and efficiency of customer relations?

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How can artificial intelligence improve the quality and efficiency of customer relations?

Opinions

User Experience And The Untapped Potential Of AI

How can artificial intelligence improve the quality and efficiency of customer relations?

Share this article

Artificial intelligence (AI) is in the news all the time, so you would be forgiven for thinking that there is a strong mainstream understanding of what AI is, and what it does.

But the reality is that there is still a widespread misconception about the truth of AI. This is partly due to the dramatic doomsday scenarios we hear in the media, but the deeper problem is that there are still few concrete examples of where AI has actually been mastered and implemented in the real world.

This has to change: the truth is, there are so many exciting applications of AI that will improve people’s lives, and customer experience has some of the biggest potential for disruption.

Often, products and projects masquerade as AI, but are not true applications of the technology. Chatbots are a great example of this. These applications aim to anticipate customers' questions, so that they can provide the answers with less input from a human customer service professional.

The first successful experiments with chatbots incorporated little artificial intelligence, and were effective only in the context of highly specific scenarios. Chatbots are not new; the interesting development is their growing use in the customer journey, and how they are influencing the wider customer service value chain.

At present 51% of companies that deploy intelligent chatbots are seeking above all to satisfy customers, and 61% feel that chatbots have helped them achieve this goal (Forrester Consulting, ‘Artificial Intelligence with the Human Touch’, 2017).

How AI can work with chatbots

Chatbots are a great example of the huge value AI can add to customer relations and contact centres. The objective is clear: to provide customers with more relevant information more quickly, and thus improve their experience overall. Several AI technologies can be combined to address these issues.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) transforms the virtual agent into an effective correspondent; this agent may even be able to recognise and translate several languages. Along with natural language processing, cognitive and emotional inputs are analysed to assess the customer's status.

Machine learning also plays a role – an advanced AI approach that analyses corporate and customer data to automate and improve responses over time.

This technique is based on constant observation of exchanges between a chatbot and the customer, which are compiled and analysed to provide better responses to customers' questions.

According to ‘The Forrester New Wave: Conversational Computing Platforms’, when combined with AI, the success rate for chatbot interactions should reach 90% by 2022.

AI is the future of contact centres

As customer authentication (with Facebook Connect or Google Connect, for example) provides more and more background and contextual information, brands hope to boost customer experience, customer satisfaction, and at the same time develop a more sophisticated understanding of how their customers are behaving across platforms.

72% of customers now expect contact centres to know who they are when they interact, signaling that the bar is set high for today’s businesses (Interactions, ‘Analysing the Future of Customer Care’, 2017).

AI applied in contact centres adds a healthy dose of innovation, improving and personalising the service and enabling businesses to address customers' needs around the clock. It now takes only a few days to set up a virtual intelligent agent that is available at all times, anywhere.

Virtual intelligent agents act in real-time, recording exchanges between customers and customer service representatives and recording those interactions within a machine learning framework. This creates a system that is capable of addressing customer problems in real-time, as the customer describes them.

In time, this should be able to take place even before the call has started - the future of customer experience is not just proactive – it’s predictive.

The traditional contact centre is being replaced by the experience centre: a cloud-based virtual hub for customer experience, which brings together customer interactions across multiple platforms, from traditional calls to social media, and uses the power of AI and machine learning to see the customer’s problem emerging and route a solution to them.

This is a game-changer for customer experience that also enhances the overall efficiency and productivity of employees.

While much of the narrative around AI in the past few months has been based on hype and promises, there are real cases of AI in action emerging which will have a transformative effect on the customer relationship.

According to Mitel research, customers value the experience they have with brands more than the service or product they actually purchase. Given this backdrop, maintaining a first-class customer journey is more important than ever, and technology is here to help.

Jean-Denis Garo is director of marketing Southern Europe at Mitel.

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User Experience And The Untapped Potential Of AI

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