Artificial intelligence (AI) is getting a bad reputation. There’s a lot of buzz about emerging tech stealing the jobs of hardworking people — especially those in the customer experience (CX) field. And while Forrester predicts that 1 out of 4 CX professionals will lose their jobs in 2020, it has little to do with employers implementing AI.
The real reason is the growing business-criticality of CX. In fact, brands will spend $8 billion more on customer service agents in 2020 than 2019 due to heightened demand and competition for highly skilled agents.
The truth is plain and simple: AI isn’t replacing contact center agents — it’s helping them step up to be the best they can be and deliver more value than ever. The key is in implementing AI to be on their side.
AI: The Superpower For CX Professionals
Delivering a five-star customer experience is a huge differentiator for a brand. Gartner predicts 89% of organizations will compete primarily on CX, and Forrester says CX is the only sustainable competitive advantage remaining. The pressure is on for CX professionals to get it right, and organizations are smartly investing in AI to enable their success across the customer journey.
What’s the most important thing about customer service? I’d say knowing your customers inside and out, which includes understanding their opinions, attitudes, history, emotions, expectations and more. But unfortunately for contact center leaders, that’s simply impossible without the help of technology, especially for brands that have millions of customers.
AI delivers some amazing benefits in the contact center. It’s enabling agents to personalize interactions and make smarter decisions in real time, while equipping organizations with customer feedback and intelligence to transform operations. Sure, AI might automate the mundane part of CX in the contact center, such as collecting contact details from customers, providing high-level information and routing calls. But it also positions people for what they do best: solving complex issues and forming emotional connections that leave customers feeling satisfied.
AI Gathers Data For Contact Center Agents
The analytical capabilities of AI are game-changing from a CX perspective. In the past, an organization might screen and analyze as little as 3% of customer interactions. Expanding this was simply impossible from a scale and capacity perspective. On top of it, those interactions were likely graded by humans, which introduces bias and subjective standards. Just imagine the blind spots this approach caused.
Advances to machine learning and AI toss the old approach out the window and equip organizations to analyze 100% of calls in the contact center to track trends, opinions, common customer problems and agent strategies. This intelligence can be used to inform CX professionals on what’s working — and what isn’t. With access to this level of data, brands can more effectively identify customer satisfaction and loyalty drivers to guide their CX strategy.
AI can also guide contact center agents in real time on the next best steps for unique interactions and specific customers. Put simply, AI is on your side to help your agents get better — not take their jobs.
AI Fuels The Results That Get You Promoted
At the end of the day, money talks. It’s all about how many customers you retain, gain and upsell. According to my company’s research, U.S. companies lose billions per year due to avoidable consumer switching. Consumers will brand hop for a variety of reasons — but failing to be heard should never be one of them. People want a connection with a human who knows their name, knows they’ve called yesterday, too, can answer all their questions efficiently and quickly and can gauge when to just get the job done — or when to give a little empathy. Call me crazy, but that’s not asking very much.
AI helps employees make customers feel heard and solve problems faster, and for that reason, contact center professionals aren’t going anywhere. They key is to have AI on your CX team.
To get started, it’s important to identify the needs for AI in your organization. It makes sense to begin in the contact center, but where within would it make the greatest difference for your business and employees? Is it implementing AI to receive crucial data on customers to build loyalty, or would the technology best help in coaching employees in real time for self-improvement? Find the area where the greatest impact would be felt and start there. Incremental change can produce transformational results.
Be sure to identify goals and track your organization’s progress with AI. This will help secure buy-in from the C-suite for additional resources to further implementation while allowing you to see when it’s time to expand with AI into other areas in the contact center. Implementing a new solution can be challenging, but taking small steps toward a full roll-out — and ensuring your employees’ success with the tech — is what sets a business up for success.
Don’t fear AI. In fact, let it create a transformative impact on your business through your people. People are still integral in the CX equation and always will be — but it’s with AI where capabilities are truly elevated.