It’s finally happened. The shift is complete. Are you ready?
I’m talking, of course, about the seismic shift that has taken place in the customer experience world over the past few years. Consumers have never been more aware of what is possible than they are now, and as such expect brands to do whatever they can to make experiences as seamless and (most importantly) as quick as possible. Artificial intelligence is changing the way your customers interact with your company.
Thanks to advances in technology, waiting on hold and anything that delays instant gratification are both grounds for customers to take their business elsewhere. However, it would be erroneous to think that technology isn’t creating unrealistic expectations; technology also happens to be the answer to the questions your customers are asking you. The capabilities of automation and AI have grown to a level where, in myriad situations, they are able to provide a better experience than a human.
Right now, there’s a certain sweet spot in which AI and automation can thrive. Those simple, repetitive tasks that tend to make up most interactions across all verticals are ideal for technology. Tasks such as password resets, address changes, account information, cancellations, etc. are all situations in which people want to take care of business quickly. As speed is the new currency of customer journeys, the ability to quickly access complete customer history provides that swift resolution. Additionally, technology doesn’t take breaks, doesn’t need to go home for the night, is never in down time, and can handle multiple tasks at once without any dips in concentration or performance. As Harvard Business Review put it, when customers can interact with you 24/7, you must have a new business model that accounts for that. AI and automation are essential to your strategic goal of being constantly connected to your customers.
Humans are still a key element of these interactions though. Live agents are still required to be “in the loop” of automation for escalations and editorial and ethical review.
For situations when technology can’t handle the entire situation autonomously, that’s when the escalation path to a live agent comes into play. When speed isn’t possible, empathy is still the best course of action, and humans are still the flagbearers for the soft skills that make personalized interactions the gold standard. Keep in mind, that since the “simple” part of the transaction has already been handled by AI (with all of the necessary information passed on to the agent, naturally), the hiring profile must also change to accommodate the new level of skill required for a live agent. These are no longer “cheeks in seats” types of employees; these are highly trained concierge-style account managers providing the high touch service needed for any inquiry that is complex enough to need a person. Technology is already helping companies reduce and optimize their labor force. Rising labor costs and attrition are the bane of any customer experience professional’s existence. However, using humans + machines can lead to reduced labor costs and longer employee tenure.
All of this to say, one of your primary strategic goals for the rest of 2019 and definitely for 2020 should be to automate transactions. By optimizing your workforce, you can gain a competitive advantage over your competitors and gain control of the market share. Disruption usually has a paralyzing effect on most incumbent companies. They frequently possess the resources necessary to succeed at innovation but fail to deploy them properly, which leads to failure to keep up with market expectations and ultimately lost revenue. So, whether you are leading the team of a smaller company looking to establish yourselves as a player, or a CX leader at a legacy brand, the urgency to adopt AI and automation across your customer journey has reached a tipping point. There will be winners and losers in your industry, and the sooner you act the more likely you are to be the standard-bearer customers seek out.
As customer expectations change, the pace of innovation must outstrip customer needs. It’s up to CX leaders to set the stage for how people interact with brands. If you’re not the one setting that stage, your customers will find someone who will.
If you want to get started on automating transactions as soon as today, please feel free to Contact Us at Humach.
Humach specializes in automating transactions with an Intelligent Workforce that keeps humans in the loop and delivers instant outcomes.