Academia and business – an essential partnership to push customer service forward
By Karsten Kraume, Chief Information Officer at Arvato CRM Solutions
Read time: 3 minutes
• Academia and businesses have more goals in common than many probably realize
• Artificial Intelligence and the automation of customer service are ideal crossover disciplines for partnerships between knowledge-driven and profit-driven organizations
• Breakthroughs in the field of customer service automation will deliver unforeseen benefits far into the future
In very broad terms, academia is the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, while business is all about making money.
However, the two worlds share more common ground than many realize. For academic projects to secure funding, they need to demonstrate the value their work will deliver to society, while businesses need to carry out forward-thinking research and development if they are to remain competitive.
That’s why partnerships between academic and profit-driven organizations can be so fruitful, especially when it comes to taking the next step in customer service delivery. The researchers gain access to real-world projects to underpin their work – as well as a source of funding of course – while we as a business gain access to a pool of talented, passionate and dedicated people who are undertaking in-depth research that will help us stay ahead of the competition.
Automation in customer service – a crossover topic
One area where there is a need for companies to invest in scientific research is automation and AI. Our own forecasts predict that by 2027 45 per cent of all customer service interactions will be automated, and we need to be on top of these technologies to be able to allow our clients to deliver the best possible experience to their customers.
That’s why we at Arvato are investing significant resources in working with academics at the cutting edge of their fields. Already, the results are looking exciting.
We recently discussed the work currently being carried out by CLAIRE, a Europe-wide initiative that brings together top academics with leaders from across the public and private sectors to set the agenda for human-centered AI research in Europe for the years ahead.
But that’s not all. Elsewhere, we have partnered with the European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS) at the University of Münster to create the ERCIS Omni-Channel Lab. Arvato is supporting the researchers at the lab to explore customer service topics including market segmentation, modeling analysis and regulation of customer interaction, and the data architecture behind customer engagement strategies. All of this research underpins the latest thinking in customer service innovation and means we’re able to be at the forefront of new developments.
We’ve also sponsored five students at the university to develop a chatbot for the institution’s Business and Economics School’s examination office.
The chatbot among others uses IBM Watson – a world-leading question-answering computer system capable of interpreting and responding to natural-language queries – to build an embedded web application that will help automate the way students across the school interact with its examination office. If it works, the chatbot could be further developed and potentially be made available to the entire University of Münster, Germany’s 6th largest university with 45,000 students and research assistants. It’s easy to imagine it finding applications far beyond this in the future – helping brands to deliver better experiences to their customers every day.
Common goals to improve customer service
Advancements in artificial intelligence and process automation are at the cutting edge of the work that will deliver the next step in our economic development. In the sphere of customer service, it is allowing brands big and small to deliver an outstanding level of support to customers with an unprecedented level of efficiency.
As customers get used to interacting with businesses via more and more channels, and having information at their fingertips, clever use of AI will be an essential competitive differentiator. For academics, the algorithms that drive these processes have potential crossover applications in many other areas of the economy and, as with countless breakthroughs in the history of technology, the true benefits won’t become apparent for many years to come.
Ultimately, academia and business working in partnership is a symbiotic relationship that benefits for both parties hugely, and one which promises to make the breakthroughs that will improve all our lives well into the future.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.