How CX Plays in The Age of AI and ChatBots
This article originally ran in CXBuzz.
Hello. Is There Anybody in There?
All of us as CX professionals and, more importantly, as customers have had the opportunity to be on the user end of automated response and resolution tools when we “need something” from a company. Some of these experiences are great, while others fall incredibly short and end up being more frustrating than liberating.
I am fortunate to be in a position where I get to review and assess new customer-facing technologies on a regular basis, and one of the latest contenders for the champion of new-age customer experience is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatBots. Some companies are using AI platforms and doing some incredible things with automation and customer self-empowerment. Then there are the others who have tried and don’t understand why it’s not working.
The objective of AI that truly matters most is EMPOWERING your customers with information and personalized back-end system details to resolve their issues themselves.
For their automated experience to be a great one, it has to happen quickly, seamlessly, and most importantly…effortlessly.
If your strategic focus as a CX leader setting up an AI program is on cost control and contact avoidance, you’re missing the goal of the entire mission.
Let’s get down to the details of what’s needs to consider when looking at the right AI solution for (a) your customers and (b) you as a company. The glossy promotional marketing material will have you convinced that “AI Platform X” or “ChatBot Platform Y” is going to be game-changing for your customers, your personalization programs, your improved CX, your customer care budget, and your company’s reputation management. But without YOU, that’s not going to happen.
I want to be clear: many of these platforms CAN yield all of these positive results, but what is important to remember is that launching an AI program is just like outsourcing some of your customer contacts to a BPO partner. As the “Client,” you own the SOPs, technology, KPIs, and all that comes with operational service delivery to your customers. When you outsource to a partner, their operation is a photocopy of your own operation. In the AI use case, you’re outsourcing those same things to the platform.
With an AI program, you need technology to accomplish the things that customers would usually contact you to have resolved by a live person. In that case, there are a number of questions that you need to be able to answer before going down the path of automation.
Questions You Need to be Answered Before Applying ChatBots
Does your company have solid, airtight, repeatable processes that a machine can execute reliably?
Is there a significant percentage of contact drivers that require human interaction?
How well does the AI system learn natural language patterns, and how much human training will be involved to get the platform performing well?
What role does authentication play in terms of the AI system’s ability to resolve specific customer issues? If the answer is, “Yes, that matters,“ are your back-end systems prepared to integrate seamlessly?
Are you considering the positioning of AI throughout the entire customer journey — from Discovery through to Resolution?
Lastly and arguably most importantly, is this what YOUR customers want?
The point that I’m alluding to is that before you go down the path of implementing any AI or ChatBot program is that there are many platform providers out there that can deliver some great benefits to your organization and customers.
However, what is even more important to understand is – what can YOU offer the AI platform in order to ensure that it actually works well?
I believe that too often, we are so impressed by the capabilities of these platforms that we fail to see that they will only be as good as the inputs that we can contribute on the client side.
What Challenges Does an AI Chatbot Platform Solve?
The true challenge for any automated AI platform (I call this “Tier Zero”) is whether it can actually resolve: (a) customer information seeking; and (b) issues resolution inquiries in a seamless and effortless way. It’s key to be able to make customers feel like you’re taking care of their needs without feeling like they’re “talking to a machine.”
If your AI rollout leads to customers wandering around a cyber maze, confusion, and ultimately having to engage a live agent anyway — you’ve done more harm than good.
In short, should you consider implementing a smart AI system? The answer is likely, “Yes.“ But the more important question to ask yourself is, “Can our internal systems and processes do it?” If the answer is “No,” or “I don’t know,” you should likely focus on shoring up those processes and back-end technologies before you light up any AI program.
Once you have your operations and systems teed up to be a beneficial input to an AI platform, you can really look at how the teaming of your CX program plus AI machine learning can integrate to serve your customers effortlessly.