Well, changes are that an AI might actually already be delivering parts of your CX. In the future, AI systems will probably run increasingly larger blocks of CX. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Instead let’s look more closely at why and how AI is relevant for CX.
What is AI? It includes a long list of trendy technologies like machine learning, deep learning, inference and causal reasoning, natural language processing, text, image and video analytics. After over half a century of research these technologies have recently matured to a level that they can be put into practical use to solve problems and handle tasks that only few years ago were exclusively the playground of humans. Examples of these solutions include robotic process automation, digital assistants, intelligent agents, chatbots, and many more.
Some of the existing AI solutions are nothing more than a set of rules, cleverly configured by human experts and blindly executed by the solution. These I would not call intelligent technologies. However, other solutions can be called intelligent, in the sense that they can learn to perform complex tasks, sometimes better than their human counterparts. In general, AI systems are able to sense the world, understand it, act to changes in it in a relevant way, and above all learn from what it is doing in order the become better. The last learning part is the key to AI systems - they constantly and automatically evaluate how they are doing and improve their performance over time.
Well, that is all good, but what is the relevance and impact of AI for CX? Let’s assume you have done all the ground work to understand your customers’ needs and have designed great CX by defining cool personas and by shaping relevant customer journeys. You have also crafted a collection of components, i.e. processes, systems, and trained customer focused employees, who acting in concert deliver great and meaningful experiences. Already today, changes are that some of these components are AI systems. Think, for example, about an e-commerce website. To improve the site experience, the site can include a webchat solution to support and help customers during their shopping experience. This chat solution can very well be an AI chatbot powered for example by IPSoft Amelia or IBM Watson. The chatbot interacts with the customer and performs a meaningful and relevant dialogue. The sophistication of these systems is such that in most cases the customer would not even notice that he is interacting with an AI and not with a human agent. If, for some reason, the chatbot cannot solve the customer’s issue, it can tell to the customer that it will transfer the case to its boss and give control to a human agent. With an AI chatbot we can deliver meaningful service, assure service consistency, save money, and utilize the human workforce for more demanding and rewarding cases. A real win-win, so expect to see more and more of these solutions.
Or, as another example, think about a hotel concierge experience delivered by an AI. This might have a screen interface that can understand and answer customers’ questions in natural language and has vast knowledge about the hotel services, the city, and other relevant issues. It answers your questions and contacts the service you need in a frictionless manner. Add the concierge AI into the hotel app and you will have the concierge with you in your pocket also outside the hotel. It could even be integrated with a camera that would allow it to see the customers and interpret their satisfaction based on the facial expressions. Using the integrated learning component, the concierge AI will improve it service and deliver better and better answers.
As AI progresses, there will be an increasing number of new AI systems capable of performing a wider range of CX tasks. Tasks, which go well beyond the pure service area, like for example automatically selecting when, what, and how to communicate with a customer based on his profile and previous experiences with the company. Suitable AI solutions should be part of your toolbox as you design how to deliver your CX. Knowing them and understanding how to combine them with other CX components allows you not only to save costs, but also to deliver better CX and keep a more focused and satisfied workforce. The idea is not to contrast employees and AI systems, but to use the best of both worlds to deliver better CX.
Disclaimer, my postings reflect my own views and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer, Accenture