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 center 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 organizations will succeed, or fail, are found in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center. 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 and 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 utilized 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 preventive step is to proactively develop a strategy for using AI rather than throwing something together as a reactive measure. Undoubtedly the greatest mistake that organizations make when implementing new technology is lacking a strategy in advance to ensure that it’s effective. To prevent these mistakes, contact center leaders can take these steps when planning to add conversational technologies into the mix.
- Realize 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t forget to measure its effectiveness and utilization once the technology is deployed across the organization. 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 center to a point that it’s unrecognizable 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.
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