Machine Learning: The Time is Now

Mar 1, 2021 9:30:00 AM

If there’s ever been a time to focus on the technology powering your organization, it’s now. There are many tech services that can drastically change your business for the better … one that we praise all the time and rely on for our own organization and its critical to the platform we provide to clients is Machine Learning (ML). This technology, often used interchangeably (which is not accurate) with Artificial Intelligence (AI), is a must for 2021 and without a doubt, all the years to come too. In fact, a recent opinion piece from CIO.com was even tilted, “AI and automation are linchpins for post-pandemic business success.” Us Edifurians couldn’t agree more. Except for one thing. 

AI and ML Aren’t One and the Same

AI keeps getting all the glory, but it shouldn’t.  Why? Artificial intelligence doesn’t truly exist yet. The concept is real, but it has not come to fruition. As of right now, machines cannot replicate human thought. What is real today, however, that we casually label AI, is actually machine learning.. 

Understanding the difference between AI and ML is important. AI aims to simulate natural human intelligence and decision-making whereas ML learns from data and by doing.  In short, AI serves as a broad field umbrella and ML is included under it. Just think about it like this. You know how Netflix suggests new shows for you to watch? That’s because the system has reviewed what you’ve previously watched, analyzed that information and then uses that data to make insightful recommendations. That’s ML at work, and it’s awesome.

Your Customers Want ML Even Though They’ve Never Heard of the Term

ML is a very valuable tool and can help organizations become much better informed about their customers. Which empowers the business to service their customers better. Which in turns creates deep and long-lasting customer loyalty. And that’s what keeps the business running. So in short, ML can be a major differentiator in helping one business succeed over the next. 

When it comes to the contact center space, ML is often used to automate customer-facing applications, like chatbots. And with so many customers choosing self-service tools, having a reliable chatbot is extremely important. However, a bot isn’t meant to kick all human agents of the contact center. Quite the opposite. In fact, technology, like ML,  is meant to help people do their jobs better, not take over things altogether. 

For example, if a customer is able to work with a bot to get a simple question answered, human agents are free to help manage the more difficult and complex issues. ML-powered chatbots also capture and evaluate data, to help contact centers deliver better service. And this is the holy grail. For the business and us consumers.  After all, we’re all customers. We know there isn’t a person around who wants to wait on hold or be transferred from agent to agent in order to have a problem solved. We want solutions and we want them fast.

It’s Time to Use ML to Benefit Your Business Internally Too

But ML doesn’t have to only benefit external folks. Why should only the customers get the perks of all that ML has to offer? Imagine a contact center environment that did not need supervisors to set schedules or routing rules or make staffing decisions. Imagine having smart machines that “learn” which agents excel at which types of interactions, on which days, at which times. It is possible. It is actually probable and likely. Leading thinkers at brands across industries are already using ML to help their businesses internally. 

As Harvard Business Review rightly points out, “Organizations that use machines merely to displace workers through automation will miss the full potential of AI. Such a strategy is misguided from the get-go. Tomorrow’s leaders will instead be those that embrace collaborative intelligence, transforming their operations, their markets, their industries, and—no less important—their workforces.”

ML is Here For Good -- Are You Ready?

“In a world of self-service, talented reps matter more than ever.” This statement, from another Harvard Business Review article says it all. Your agents matter. So you better be darn sure that the technology you’re giving them to do their jobs is up to par. And while we are always thinking about the customer’s experience, it is extremely short-sighted to not consider the agent/employee’s experience too. And that’s the beauty of ML. It benefits the customer and it benefits your people. Seems pretty clear, the time to integrate ML-based technology into your business has passed … and if it’s not part of your plans now, it’s time to get on board. For more on this topic, download the white paper here.

Liz Cahill

Written by Liz Cahill

Recognized as one of PR Week's “Ten Rising Stars” in 2005, Liz Cahill has been working in the public relations industry for more than two decades with a focus on technology and lifestyle. During this time, Cahill has partnered with clients big and small, working on strategy development, message creation, media outreach, social media programming, event planning, ghostwriting, and pretty much anything else her clients throw at her. Originally a “Jersey girl,” Cahill has lived in Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles. She currently resides outside of LA with her husband, daughter and twin sons.