Humans and AI will work together to make things great for customers
Excellence in customer experience (CX) has always depended upon the personal touch — creating an interaction for users which feels individualized and highly responsive to their needs, while efficiently satisfying and resolving those needs to leave them feeling great.
But while the goal is to make each customer feel unique, the truth that every CX professional knows is that a great many of these experiences are highly predictable and repetitive and really don’t require the initiative of a human response at all.
In fact, the customer can often get what they need far more quickly and on their own terms through a self-service approach, at a time and via a medium of their choosing, and customers are increasingly fine with this. It’s no longer just the clichéd Millennials who often prefer to deal with brands without a direct conversation and will opt for an online approach given a choice. . . any great CX interactions for all kinds of customer groups can now be provided in a wholly automated way.
Fast, direct, user-controlled experiences are wanted.
When the UX is sensitively created, the trade-off between speed and personalization is one most people readily adapt to. Furthermore, when the interaction stays routine, few people notice or question the absence of a live human being; such is the upside gain.
A few years ago, obtaining an updated quote for auto insurance would have meant waiting for the availability of a call center agent on a phone call you were paying for, who then read out questions and typed your answers into their screen — a lengthy, boring, and repetitive process for both participants, to be repeated for each broker you wanted a costing from. Today, however, completing a simple online form or interactive voice response system can yield not only a slew of competitive quotations, but the ability to click straight through and contract directly with your provider of choice for immediate underwriting — all without ever speaking to another human agent.
So, what happened to that human agent in the contact center? Well, the good news is that their job got a lot more interesting and still matters — because the greater the automation of customer experience, the more customers can be responded to, and thus the greater the number of edge cases generated. Those unique inquiries that the machine learning algorithms cannot resolve from their dataset — like a rare classic vehicle to be insured, an anxious or distressed car accident victim, or a complex query with the terms of the legal cover itself — still require a human touch.
Augmented human super-agents emerge.
In these cases, the ability to quickly route out of the automated response system, whether that is voice or text, and get help from a real person, is paramount. What differentiates a great CX from a cost-cutting exercise is that swift escalation of exactly the right interaction for human attention.
Here again, automation supports CX, by augmenting the skills of the agent and giving them support superpowers. For example, natural language processing (NLP) can identify a specific product mentioned or something like an error code, interact with backend systems via bespoke APIs, and discreetly retrieve the exact article from the vast knowledge base that the agent needs to show instant familiarity with how to sort out that particular problem.
This approach elevates all associated metrics like first call resolution (FCR) and net promoter score (NPS), all while driving win-win outcomes for both customers and brands. And the agents themselves get the chance to dig deeper, help people more in-depth, and be valued for these qualitative metrics that matter, instead of being judged by how many quotes they can process or tickets they can resolve in the shortest amount of time.
The future is a satisfied customer.
Even though the ML-powered bots are getting smarter all the time at parsing deeply human attributes like emotion and inference, those humans in your contact centers remain vital — and the future of great CX is about the point at which human and automation interface and enhance one another. In a truly perfect contact center solution, they complement one another by working seamlessly together.
The customers will always need a combination of speed and reliability with recognition and personalization, and while that point of intersection may be dynamic, the right integrated communications tools will help you find the perfect balance for your CX offering.
To dig deeper into why machines and humans is the best combination, check out this free eBook. And to discuss how subtle and appropriate automation could enhance your current CX offering, please reach out. Let’s discuss.