Human-enabled AI: why people will always be at the heart of automated customer experience
Sascha Wollenberg, VP Consulting and Solution Design at Majorel, explains why successful AI and automation in CX is only possible with human expertise.
The world of customer experience (CX) is changing. Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) have already driven huge transformation in the customer experience sector, automating millions of interactions and streamlining processes for companies and their customers.
The pace of this change is only going to accelerate over the course of the next decade. Research carried out on behalf of Majorel shows that within the next few years, up to a quarter of existing contact center interactions could be handled by automated technologies, with this figure potentially rising to almost half by 2027. Set against the context of a huge overall rise in customer interactions, this represents a level and pace of digital transformation unmatched by perhaps any other industry.
Facing such a digitally-driven future, it’s easy to lose perspective. Many fear that the rise of AI will mean thousands of real customer service jobs lost, or that the ‘personal touch’ will be eradicated from any dealings between a company and its customers.
Neither could be further from the truth. Best estimates suggest that the number of tech-enabled human interactions will almost double over the course of the next decade, creating thousands of higher-skilled new jobs. And rather than losing the personal touch, we will see human interactions becoming more personalised – with AI and automation giving customer service employees the tools and information they need to do their job more effectively and engage and empathize even more with their customers.
What people also often fail to realize is that people will always play a crucial role in customer experience, regardless of the extent to which the end interaction can be automated. Indeed, an automated system on its own is almost worthless. You give it value when you tailor it to the specific needs of the company and of its customers. This can only be done by a human – someone who can analyze the current state of play, look at what is carried out manually and what can be automated, identify the best possible technology solutions and then, most importantly, use their knowledge of how to create experiences to set up that technology in the right way.
Take chatbots, for example. There are thousands of technology companies that provide chatbot software to the customer service industry, all offering broadly similar features and functionality. But you can’t simply buy one off the shelf and expect it to adequately replace human interaction. You must design how a chatbot communicates: creating the FAQs that it will answer; defining the style and format of each communication; and establishing a tone of voice that reflects the respective brand and its values. And once a chatbot is up and running you have to monitor and improve based on consumer behaviour – including knowing when to hand over to a human contact when the chatbot isn’t able to deal with a query.
Sascha Wollenberg, VP Consulting and Solution Design at Majorel
The importance of this design phase is one of the reasons why automated customer service systems like chatbots have not always lived up to expectations. There are a lot of systems still on the market from the early 2000s that do not have the machine learning capability to cope with the increasing complexity of requests. But many systems have also been set up by providers who aren’t experts in customer experience management, while others have been set up then left alone with nobody to monitor and update them. This is where the real skill lies, and why people will always be at the heart of customer service, even when that service is automated.
At Majorel we are making a huge commitment to continue to be the leader in digital customer experience, with major investments planned over the coming years in AI, RPA, analytics and customer experience management systems. But while the future is surely digitally-led, people will always be at the heart of what we do. To create an automated experience that works for the company and their customer, you need an in-depth, real-life and very human understanding of the experience you are trying to create. So for us it is essential to combine the best of people and technology. No matter where the future takes us, we are never going to forget that.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.
Image: © LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS – AdobeStock