Delivering Connected Experiences - Cognitive Expert Advisors

Chirag Bhuva, Director - Customer Service & Operations, Vistaprint | Wednesday, 23 August 2017, 13:44 IST

In today’s digital world, Customer Experience is the battleground for true differentiation. So, what does “WOW” customer service experience mean? As per research, excellent customer service is personalized, real time, consistent and omni-channel.

With so much technology in the hands of consumers, our traditional service advisors are playing a catch-up game to transform into new age "Cognitive Expert Advisors".

Artificial intelligence and automation backed service approach is rapidly gaining momentum and acceptance by customers. Today, machines can interact with humans at a level that only seemed possible in sci-fi movies a decade ago. E-commerce companies serve up personalized product recommendations, Facebook automatically tags photos and Google maps proactively reroutes around traffic. AI is powering nearly every experience and making it smarter, seamless and personalized.

This seamless personalized, immediate and intelligent user experience is making way to every business, across all industries. Every leader believes that customer experience is a key competitive differentiator and view customer service as the primary way of delivering the customer experience. For customer service organizations to lead customer experience transformation, they must fully embrace, deploy and utilize AI.

There are two main ways that businesses are augmenting their customer care units with AI - “front-end AI-powered bots” and “AI-assisted human advisors.” A “front-end AI-powered bot” is a conversational computer program that interacts directly with a customer without human intervention. On the other hand, an “AI-assisted human advisor” is a human customer service representative who is supported by AI technology.

It’s not just about “bots” for self-service. In general usage, it means the usage of advanced analytics which includes processing of “natural language” (e.g. Alexa, Siri), decision making using complex algorithms, and “machine learning”.

Imagine this: today’s new age customer calls your company helpline for buying a product. Service advisor understands the requirement and goes through different models, and details. However, the customer is still undecided since the “WOW Experience” was lacking. The process of buying in this case is highly disconnected.

When the customer calls the helpline, there’s a good chance that they know more about the product they want than the service advisor. They have already visited the website and compared multiple models, saved their favourite one, and even customised the product on the website or app. At this stage, customers have made a significant investment in the buying process. However, this is completely disregarded as soon as they call the helpline. The service advisor has very little information, on what the customer is interested in. The disconnect between a traditional CRM and customers online browsing data is huge, and significantly impacting the sales process.

Companies have huge opportunities to use technology for understanding the customer journey and improving the customer experience. If previous shopping history, interaction history, browsing history, app data and social profile data is presented in a meaningful way to the service advisor with help of artificial intelligence, it could help today’s advisor to deliver personalized - wow- service interactions.

Organizations can significantly improve efficiency’s by using automation/AI. Managers can use data for gaining real time insights across channels with analytics to increase productivity and CSAT. Service requests can be automatically classified and routed to skilled advisors using predictive analytics. Self-service knowledge base powered workflows, integrated mobile app and CRM would lead to faster service request resolutions, higher satisfaction & Net Promoter Score.

This is not an easy change; businesses need to start preparing for tomorrow’s customer. We need to start mapping user journey, and instead of just collecting data, start to look at ways for delivering a connected experience.

So, how should today’s leaders embrace Automation and Artificial Intelligence for Customer Service advisors to transform them into Cognitive Experts?

  1. Using Service Interaction Data – Today’s service advisors document thousands of interactions, capture likes, dislikes & wish lists that customers have. It is important to create insights that help reduce customer effort, improve efficiency, promote self-service and lead to cost savings.
  2. Human touch is primary – AI works best when it is used as an enabling tool to help service advisors engage in meaningful way with customers and not eliminate them.
  3. Small is big - Focus on small things that help map and improve customer journey.
  4. The connected T’s – Transparency in any kind of business leads to trust. This eventually leads to repeat customer base with a healthy LTV. It is important that customers know who they are talking to & the reason for it {Bot’s or Humans}.
  5. Making the Right investments - For "WOW Experiences", ongoing evaluation and change is necessary. Leaders need to continuously go back to service advisors and take a feel of what customers think about automation and ways they can introduce/ amend technology changes to meet and exceed service expectation.

    As automation is embraced and e-commerce growth continues, AI platforms will likely become even more commonplace. So, learn to expect exceptional service and accept that disappointments could be rare - with AI, the old way of treating customers is officially a thing of the past.