by   |    |  Estimated reading time: 3 minutes  |  in Customer Engagement, Service   |  tagged , , , , , ,

When you ask customers what they want from their experiences with your organization, simplicity and ease top their list. Furthermore, they want to know that they can trust whomever is providing them with service.  For those reasons, customers may respond negatively when they realize that a machine, not a human, is providing them with service.

Many companies create further problems for customers by complicating the process of moving from artificial intelligence to agent-assisted service. For organizations to implement artificial intelligence well, it means integrating their AI and automation into their existing customer journey in such a way that the tech-assisted experiences happen alongside the human-assisted ones. Designing such systems requires a balance between the needs of the business (cost efficient service that maximizes revenue), customers (service without worry once it is received), and employees (tools and resources that enable them to effectively understand and meet customer needs) when designing their robotics or intelligence systems. Additionally, not every step of the customer journey is best suited for AI, so organizations must thoughtfully consider where automation versus assisted service makes the most sense.

Choosing where to best place AI and live agents may sound like a simple concept, but many contact centers lack the insights necessary to determine their blend of offerings and, as a result, make their decisions by guesswork.  This is a highly undesired approach that will contribute to additional costs and unnecessary complexities. To prevent such things from happening, contact center leaders should conduct activities that uncover the specifics of customer expectations across their many touch points.

One such activity is cross-functional customer journey mapping, which helps contact center leaders who struggle to find the right mix of channels for their unique client base.  Customer journey mapping also enables companies to ensure that they’re delivering on employee and organizational expectations as well. Another benefit of customer journey mapping is that it’s done best when it brings together cross-functional leaders in an organization. By involving customer facing or affecting departments beyond the contact center—like marketing, product development, or IT—companies will see increased success in AI deployments and better informed plans for improving customer experience.

A well-represented cross-segment of leaders can identify the relative value of interactions throughout the customer journey. With perspectives that range from the frontline to the boardroom, and the departments in between, organizations can make well-informed decisions on where to leverage self- or agent assisted-service and control the cost of service and demands placed on live agents. One such example is that an organization can decide to immediately route the highest value customers to a live agent—circumventing AI systems entirely.

Alternately, entire industries whose business is based on predominantly low-value interactions may choose to heavily leverage automated systems at their frontline.  (For example, consider the increasing number of self-service kiosks in shops or grocers.) The ultimate decisions will vary from one company to the next, but when the right grouping of diverse perspectives is making the decisions, organizations can rest assured that they’re asking the right questions and applying the best filters for designing their service experience. There are no specific guidelines on when to apply AI and robotics or not. Every business should consider the balance of cost efficiency and opportunities to maximize revenue, while also recognizing the importance and need for the human touch throughout the customer journey.


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