It’s not that long ago when managing a contact center was focused primarily on a single voice channel. Today, customers expect to be able to engage on the channel of their choice, whether it’s social media, app, email, text or webchat. Customer journeys have become very complex with a rapidly escalating amount of data to manage. This is where the innovations of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning come into play – and they’re leading to some amazing new opportunities for businesses to improve upon their customer experience.
AI: Redefining the Contact Center
Although some still consider AI to be a futuristic buzzword more than a technology of today, the reality is it can no longer be downplayed and ignored. In fact, it has already become essential for staying competitive with rising customer expectations and business demands. And, AI is not just contributing to one area of the customer experience. Rather, its impact is widespread and growing. Here are just some of the ways AI is already being used:
Improved Self-Service – Customers want their issues resolved immediately and choose the brands that deliver this level of service. AI-powered chatbots enable this to happen by providing 24×7 service. Unlike self-service channels of the past, chatbots can leverage contextual and historical data to provide a personalized customer experience.
Omnichannel Integration – Customer journeys happen on a variety of channels. This requires integration that enables history from previous interactions, as well as customer data to be shared and leveraged to provide a seamless experience. AI helps to provide this level of omnichannel support.
Improved KPIs – AI also is revolutionizing the routing of customers. Data across every channel can now be used to prioritize customers and route them to the optimal agent, which minimizes wait times, reduces transfers and increases the number of first call resolutions. AI can also guide customers to other channels or make suggestions to provide more personalized journeys based on their preferences and history.
Smarter Outbound Engagement – With all the data collected and analyzed, businesses are now using AI to deliver personalized, optimally-timed outbound messages which can improve upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Empowered Agents – Along with providing personalized self-service, AI-powered chatbots can be used to deliver historical data and real-time information to human agents. This information enables agents to provide a customized customer experience.
More Insightful Analytics – Ongoing collecting and processing of data offers much greater insights for forecasting and predicting future trends. Using sentiment analysis, the combination of machine learning and natural language processing can dramatically improve the customer experience and contact center processes, as well as marketing and sales efforts.
What About Blockchain?
Blockchain is another buzzword that is frequently tossed around in conversations pertaining to the future of customer experience. Like AI, blockchain has many potential uses but is still in its infancy when it comes to actual usage. Most of us know its most visible usage – Bitcoin. However, the concepts for applications have grown to include auditing, insurance, tax automation, digital voting and medical reporting. And, it has the potential of automating many complex processes and creating greater business transparency.
Currently, blockchain primarily is used in the financial industry with the popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But, its ability to capture data soon could be leveraged to deliver far more targeted advertising based on data acquired from social media, wearables, smart home applications and other IoT-connected devices.
Where Technology and Humans Meet
Although AI, machine learning, blockchain and other innovations are helping to automate many contact center processes, they also are enabling opportunities for greater emotion and personalization to be infused into the customer experience.
For example, AI can help businesses develop better understanding of what customers want and proactively determine what they will need. Blockchain may help drive brand loyalty by powering the ability to reward customers in real time for tasks like completing a survey.
It’s the companies that can successfully use these technologies that will drive better experiences across every channel throughout the customer journey. Rather than taking the perspective that these innovations will dehumanize the customer experience, they will identify that they can drive empathy, convenience, trust and ultimately loyalty.