AI and the Internet of Things: the customer experience decade ahead
Read time: 3 minutes
• Almost half of contact center operations could be automated by 2027
• Automated processes, governed by artificial intelligence, will be the first port of call for most customer queries
• The Internet of Things will increasingly see product and service issues being resolved without involving the customer
It’s getting harder and harder for brands to give customers what they want. But, in 10 years’ time, only those who harness automation technologies will still be able to.
Customer expectations have already set the bar very high for the level of service a brand needs to be able to deliver.
The average contact center today now supports nine different communications channels. Offering a truly seamless, always-on experience – where the customer can switch from one method of communication to another and receive the same level of support, without starting from scratch – is no small challenge.
As more and more customers come to expect this 24/7 omnichannel support, brands are going to need to adopt automation and artificial intelligence technologies if they are to deliver it efficiently.
In fact, a new Arvato report, which looks at how contact center operations will evolve in the next 10 years, predicts that 45 per cent of customer contact operations could be automated by 2027.
Here are some of the key ways technology will transform the customer experience over the next 10 years.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Repetitive, rule-based processes play a big part in making omnichannel customer support possible. For example, duplicating new information generated during a web chat across records of the customer stored in every part of the system. This will mean up-to-data information will be available should the customer choose to speak to a representative over the phone next time.
As RPA grows more sophisticated, increasingly these high-volume tasks will no longer need a human to perform them, allowing staff to focus on more complex customer-facing tasks, with the support of software-based virtualized operators.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
This takes automation a stage further, using software to understand complex, unstructured data – i.e. information that has not been arranged into a pre-defined framework that is easily understood by a computer – and then use it to learn and make decisions.
The potential applications of AI in contact centers are many and wide-ranging. For example, it can deliver a self-service channel based on extracting key information from text or voice inputs from customers to deliver answers to frequently-asked questions.
This will bring two major advantages:
• Reduced waiting time for customers to find the information they need
• Lower volumes of queries for human operators, who can focus on solving more complex customer issues
It can also help build a more detailed 360-view of the customer by extracting information from all of the data the company holds on them and using this to inform proactive contact and product or service recommendations.
In the next 10 years, we are going to see AI increasingly becoming the ‘brain’ of customer contact operations, supported by RPA to complete tasks, with humans only becoming involved to tackle complex issues that can’t be resolved by the automated system.
Internet of Things
As consumer technology becomes smarter and more connected, customer contact centers will need to adapt to keep pace.
As products begin to communicate directly with a contact center with minimal human interaction, this will begin to redefine what is considered a ‘customer’ interaction.
According to the Arvato report, by 2027, up to 60 per cent of the volume of customer interactions could be made up of automated communication with smart tech.
We are already seeing this emerge. An early example is BMW’s ‘self-healing’ car project in which vehicles can run diagnostics and implement fixes when something goes wrong without any intervention from the owner or a mechanic.
In the decade ahead, contact centers will be focused on doing more with less, and automated systems will be at the forefront of allowing them to achieve this.
To read the report in full, click here.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.