AI and automation: it’s not the Hollywood sci-fi film you thought it was, says Mark Jordan, Managing Director at Contact Centre, Babble.
It’s taken a global pandemic to get business leaders taking artificial intelligence (AI) and automation seriously. Finally, leaders recognize its power in understanding customer behaviour, boosting profitability and optimizing operations for years to come.
Benefits of these technologies have been spoken about for years, but until recently have rarely been established to a beneficial level within businesses – and certainly not older ones. But the pandemic has demonstrated just how much quicker those organizations utilizing technologies were able to adapt to the drastic change in lifestyle we all faced 18 months ago. Those technological dinosaurs are already falling by the wayside. Here’s a look at the world of AI and automation, revealing the true capabilities of these technologies in the business context.
AI, automation and an army of robots
It’s a misconception that AI and automation are the same thing. AI is about understanding the customer’s requirements and quickly generating an overview of what needs to be done. Automation is what then delivers on these findings. The two work in tandem, but play separate roles. One is the thinker, one is the doer. Like any great pair, they’re worth more than the sum of their parts.
The movies may represent these technologies as futuristic concepts – you probably have visions of an army of robots. In reality, they perform low complexity, automated and repetitive tasks which offer businesses huge increases in efficiency and cost savings.
Dial down the noise
Put simply, by harnessing the combined capabilities of humans and technology, customer experience agents can be utilized more effectively.
Humans are better at dealing with more complex issues, so why not leave the digital intelligence to crack on with customers’ more mundane – yet inevitable – frequent enquiries like ‘What are your opening times?’. This approach frees up employees’ time to handle the more complex customer queries in meaningful and profitable ways, leading to both short-and-long term rewards.
Customer service has a bad rep for being a boring role, so delegating these simple tasks to bots is essential to get ahead in a world with ever-increasing emphasis on customer experience. Then, when someone calls up asking for a state-of-the-art cruise ship booking with 28 different destinations and extravagant add-ons, we can put a human to their best use.
Any organization that understands the true potential of customer experience can focus on using their human resources for something they are good at.
Babble works with hotel room provider, WebBeds. During the pandemic, the automated services we implemented assisted by scanning through bookings made by thousands of customers, cross referencing them against the hotel’s status, and sending the customer automatic updates – all in a matter of seconds. Its automated services meant that it could meet customer demand quickly and effectively, at an unprecedented scale.
Sound like a no brainer? Well, that’s because it is. The industry-leading technology that we’re working with here is easily applied. It’s just a matter of taking the plunge. If you do, you’ll remain one step ahead.
Customer experience highfliers
Businesses that onboard these technologies instantly improve customers’ experience. Businesses will avoid customer complaints caused by those painful waiting times on the phone; they’ll reduce the number of missed calls by automatically answering low-complexity questions; and they’ll use human intelligence sparingly, as only those more complex queries will use up the precious time of customer experience agents. In this sense, the average handle time of a human interaction will go up on high ticket calls, while being reduced on the straightforward, no profit calls.
The result? After next to no time waiting, the customer will either have the simple questions answered, or they’ll be put through to a smart human that can talk through their needs and options, while suggesting additional, exciting and relevant add-ons. In either scenario, the customer has enjoyed a meaningful experience that they are likely to shout about.
And that’s just the beginning.
A personalized customer experience
Agent-assist, which is provided by our partners over at Five9, takes all of this to the next level. Listening to the conversation a customer and an agent are having, it instantly suggests to the agent the next best action, in real time. Searching multiple data sources, including customer reference numbers, it can pull up results and suggestions for the agent to offer up. It essentially makes the customer service agent a star player in granting instant access to limitless, smart data.
This resource offers an improved, personalized customer experience from the word go. The minute a customer calls, the AI reads their ID and understands any previous interactions with the company. Again, this improves the customer experience as it removes any longwinded backstory being relayed. It cuts things straight to the point. In recognizing the customer the moment they call, it can pull up whether (if it were a travel company, for example) they have a flight to a red list country the next day that needs cancelling; if they have a holiday booked that can’t go ahead; which destinations might be more viable options. Within the first few seconds of the call, the agent already has a good understanding of the customer’s needs. From there, the world is their oyster.
With thousands of data points automatically logged instantly, businesses are also able to spot patterns and trends, while tracking and measuring customer experience in accurate, meaningful ways.
Digital customer experience: the new normal
The conversion of these ‘nice-to-haves’ into business imperatives that offer the ability to plan and manage customer experiences better, is one of the real positives to come from the pandemic. Finally, the benefits of digital automation are getting the kudos is deserves.
Companies with cloud enabled customer service strategies in place pre-March 2020 adapted much more effectively when the pandemic hit as their customer experience teams were available remotely. It’s not hard to see why. After all, how can a customer service agent do their job when they’re not allowed into the office to access their fixed line?
Digital intelligence is now a must-have business solution that offers countless benefits and endless flexibility. The more established players out there are suddenly at a disadvantage. Carrying the baggage of pre-historic tech isn’t going to meet the mark anymore when competing with the fresh, tech-ready Ubers of the 21st century. Enabling intelligent, scalable plans allows businesses to continually adapt and evolve, while those that are too afraid to digitally reinvent themselves will be left in the dust.
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In a world where brand loyalty is diminishing, customer experience has never been so important. Cloud AI and automation technology is here to ensure you get it right and reap the rewards. Get it wrong, and you’ll pay the price.