Many analysts are making predictions on the adoption of artificial intelligence, messaging apps, and the convergence of the two in customer service and support environments. These projections have many contact centre leaders wondering what they should, and shouldn’t, be focused on when it comes to AI adoption in the coming years. What about AI is hype? And, where is it a sustainable, effective solution for improving the customer experience?
Some of the early predictions of how organisations will succeed, or fail, are found in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Centre. They believe that we’ll experience a significant increase (up to 70% by 2022) in the percentage of interactions that happen between customers and emerging technologies like machine learning applications, chatbots, or mobile messaging. But, Gartner also predicts that 40% of the bot/virtual assistant applications launched in 2018 will be abandoned within the first two years. In other words, one out of every two-and-a-half investments made this year will not be utilised after the next 18-24 months.
What can prevent you from being one of the 40%? The answer is not to avoid investing in the technology altogether. The biggest preventative step is to proactively develop a strategy for using AI, rather than throwing something together as a reactive measure. Undoubtedly, the greatest mistake that organisations make when implementing new technology is lacking a strategy in advance to ensure that it’s effective. To prevent these mistakes, there are a few key steps that contact centre leaders can take when planning to add conversational technologies into the mix.
1. Realise the importance of live agents in the service interaction and design the bots or virtual assistants to play a supporting role. People want technology to be a powerful enabler of their service experience, but when it gets emotional, complicated, or ambiguous, they need rapid access to a human being.
2. Map the customer journey to pinpoint the best opportunities for increased automation around predictable outcomes, the necessary spots of human assistance, and innovative ways to blend the experiences together.
3. Pilot the experience of moving between AI and human-assisted service before it’s live to customers; then again to a small segment of customers; and seek feedback and make improvements along the way before rolling the technology out on a large scale.
4. Don’t forget to measure its effectiveness and utilisation once the technology is deployed across the organisation. Leverage analytics, customer feedback, and employee insights to understand how customers are, and aren’t, using the tools, measure abandonment rates to improve the customer experience, and gauge whether or not the tools are improving customer take-up and satisfaction.
Don’t fall into the false belief that artificial intelligence is going to radically transform the contact centre to a point that it’s unrecognisable from what we see and do today. The reality is that AI, chatbots, virtual assistants, and the like, are just a new tool in helping customers move from point A to point B. They’re going to make the customer experience better, but they can’t do it alone, and it won’t be sustainable if there isn’t a solid plan in place.