Has your customer service function evolved to be able to automate elements of support with AI?

Written by Michael Smith on the 7th of June, 2018

For the forward-thinking CIO or CX Director, tech-savvy Millennials and perhaps your investors, the concept of AI-driven customer service generates real excitement.

I’m a huge fan of AI in the omni-channel mix for organisations that have evolved towards it in a methodical manner. Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing capabilities undoubtedly have huge implications for customer service. 

However, there is also risk. Its important to remember that it's a component of the service-mix and perhaps the arrow tip of a broader process of CX evolution and transformation.

A recent study by our technology partner Zendesk demonstrated that 52% of us stop buying if we have just one bad experience. Moving too quickly or running before you can walk with AI is therefore an easily quantifiable risk.

There are a number of factors which will impact an organisation's ability to deploy AI as service tools:

Firstly, what extent has the organisation already transformed to deal with its digital customers. If you are still reliant on inbound telephony, email and an array of disparate and unconsolidated tools such as Live Chat, then you’re light years away. 

Secondly, what's the profile of your customer base (age & demographic). A bias towards Millennials or a service or product with a bias towards the tech savvy will favour content-driven responses from a Bot.

Thirdly, what are the nature of enquiries on a daily or weekly basis? Are you subject to event-driven or seasonal peaks? What if my issue is mission critical and I need the emotional and empathy-driven response of a living person providing triage in Chat? If this is the case, then there has to be the ability to transfer this session to a real agent (something that is already possible using Sentiment Analysis).

To be able to assess risk, you must look in the mirror and understand ‘the present’. How has your customer help-desk evolved or transformed already and what is sustainable? 

For more legacy-oriented organisations, consolidation of inbound onto a single platform that has the ability to use machine learning to identify and trigger the curation of content to a branded help-centre should be the primary focus of any investment. 

Once you have the ability through content-driven, contextual support to both drive deflection of tickets through self-management and empower agents to deliver relevant content for first-time resolution, then maybe you can think about AI.

For the more advanced, it’s a matter of working out what workflows can be streamlined in this way which of course, comes down to having very smart reporting and a defined workflow that holds the hand of the customer all the way and guides them if necessary to that real person.

Either way, as A-Commerce takes over from E-Commerce, we need to be conscious that AI-driven customer service has arrived and is here to stay. Just beware how you go about deploying it.

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