Meet Blended AI - How Machines and a Human Touch Enhance CX
Blended AI is able to create an exquisite customer experience that meets today’s ultra-demanding customer with smart, contextual, realtime, personalised interactions. But how?
Tracy is in the market for a new tablet. She Googles “the best tablet for me” and checks out a few sites at the top of her personalised results. She decides on the Dell XPS 10, which fits all of her requirements. Next, Tracy heads to the Dell website to look for the tablet there. Almost instantly, a chat box pops up, asking Tracy if there’s anything she needs help with. She asks where she can find more information about her chosen tablet. The customer service rep -- who Tracy doesn’t realise is actually a bot since its language is so relaxed and natural -- sends a link, which Tracy clicks.
Tracy scans the specs and is impressed. She asks the bot a few questions about the specs and is satisfied with the answers. But now she has a more complex query. “I found this laptop on another site for cheaper. I wondered if you’d consider matching that site’s price?”
Without missing a beat, the bot responds that it’s going to connect her to a human agent, and asks for her phone number. Within mere minutes, Tracy is on the phone with a human customer service representative, who knows exactly which laptop she’s after and is already aware of the questions she’s asked the bot. The agent agrees to match the price Tracy found elsewhere, and Tracy is so impressed with the seamless customer care that she clicks the “Buy Now” button while still on the line.
Welcome to the future of the customer experience: blended AI that combines all the intelligence and processing power of machines with the emotional intelligence and cognition unique to humans.
How AI can help human agents
Today’s customer expects a lot. She wants to know what’s the best gadget, outfit, hairdresser, toothbrush, SUV for her (and nearest her), and she wants to have her questions about the product or service answered in detail...at 3 am, in real-time. But that’s not all. She wants her questions answered at hyperspeed. If any of her queries are too complex for the bot she’s interacting with, she demands a seamless transfer to a human agent, who has been updated with all the information she gave the chatbot.
It’s true: Google Trends shows a 25 percent increase in worldwide searches for “the best for me” over the past five years. But even more impressive is the rise of the search term “near me”, which has seen an almost 100 percent increase since 2014. So, what’s a human customer service representative to do with these superhuman demands for ultra convenience that today’s customers place upon them?
"This frees up the human agent’s time to answer the more complex queries that the bots aren’t capable of handling
The answer is that they are leveraging powerful AI to assist them with the customer journey. Today’s AI allows companies to automate their common customer journeys, handing the tedious, repetitive tasks over to bots. This frees up the human agent’s time to answer the more complex queries that the bots aren’t capable of handling. AI helps out customer reps in many other ways, too. It assists in seamless transfers to human agents when necessary. And by seamless, that means that not only does the AI ensure the customer is passed to the correct agent and does it hang around until the connection is made, but it also leverages what it’s learned throughout the customer interaction (and past customer interactions and info in the CRM), and passes the knowledge along to the human agent, to ensure the most personalised customer experience possible.
In other words, customers no longer have to worry about a) the frustration of being passed to the incorrect agent or being hung up on or b) having to repeat themselves or c) feeling like just a number. Once the customer has been passed to the human agent, the AI continues to guide the agent through the interaction, providing real-time analysis and insights to the human agent, along with suggested answers based on the customer’s line of questioning, and knowledge it has about the customer. This allows the human agent to move far quicker than he or she ever could have on their own, and offer a far more customised experience than ever before -- which, again, is what today’s customer expects and demands.
How human agents can help AI
Still, there’s a reason why a recent Forrester study found that despite the fact that plenty of customer care centers expected an overall drop in call volume, they expected the call lengths to stay the same or even increase. Not only that but despite automation now has become the norm in many call centers, over one-quarter expect to hire at least 10 percent more human agents.
So if AI has gotten so good at taking on the easy jobs, and speeding up the customer journey, why the increased demand for human agents? Because a blended approach combines the best of AI with the best of human abilities to create the most delightful CX experience. In other words, two minds are better than one. There are several reasons why AI needs to work alongside humans, in order to provide the most optimal customer experience.
Firstly, humans have an innate need to connect to other humans. This dates back to caveman times when we banded together with other humans for not only safety but also because hunting and gathering are more effectively done in groups. In other words, our survival depended upon being (at least somewhat) social. So, there’s that. But there are also other factors at play. Humans are, believe it or not, better at a lot of things than AI.
"Astounding three-quarters of consumers expect brands to know their purchase history, and nearly half love it when brands bring up their last experience."
We’re far better, for instance, at reacting to customer emotions than machines are (and though they’re working on creating emotional machines, they’re a long way away). And it turns out that this emotional response is key to customer loyalty -- a Deloitte study showed that nearly two-thirds of consumers feel they have a relationship with a brand. Nearly half would make a recommendation based on emotional criteria. Astounding three-quarters of consumers expect brands to know their purchase history, and nearly half love it when brands bring up their last experience.
Another thing to consider: AI isn’t perfect. It makes mistakes, just like humans do (though nowhere near as often, of course). So humans need to be there to step in and take over if and when AI malfunctions -- and identify when and how it’s malfunctioning, too. Automation strike teams, for example, are starting to be implemented across industries, specifically for this purpose. And what about further innovation? Humans are required to program and continually improve AI technology before, during, and after deployment.
For all these reasons, it’s no wonder that a study by Calabrio found that nearly 80 percent of customers prefer to interact with a human over a chatbot or digital channel during their customer journey. So you can see, much like the experience of a pen is improved with paper, and the experience of paper is improved with a pen, AI and humans improve upon one another. Blended AI is able to create an exquisite customer experience that meets today’s ultra-demanding customer with smart, contextual, realtime, personalised interactions, without putting unreasonable demands on either the human or the machine.
Call it the perfect relationship.
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