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More and more, I’ve been watching the war between AI and other high technology on the one hand, and human agents on the other, dissolve. The best of setups and approaches I’ve been involved with as a customer experience consultant, of late, feature the two as allies in favor of the customer. (I found this theme particularly in evidence in Vegas recently at the CCW–Customer Contact Week–event. More on CCW and the insights it represented in a minute.)
This alliance of AI/high tech and the human agent may be best represented by the triangular model that’s pictured in my graphic here:
At one vertex of the triangle is the customer. At the second vertex is the AI. At the third is the human agent. A conversation can start at any vertex; let’s take the example of the conversation starting with AI, for example with a chatbot or an AI-powered dynamic search bar like that on the Bold360-powered Thomas Cook site. When the AI doesn’t serve the complete needs of the customer (as it often won’t), the human agent comes in—not with the bot “handing it over” to the agent, but with the AI continuing to assist the agent either behind the scenes or directly with the customer in collaboration with the agent (for example, by inserting tracking numbers that it’s pulled up, or by suggesting approaches or language that are most likely to serve and solve things for the customer). Alternatively, the customer can being the exchange by interacting with the human agent, who then invokes AI either behind the scenes for invisible support or hands off the conclusion of the interaction entirely to the AI.
AI, of course, is only one of the technologies being brought to bear in favor of today’s customers, but all of them work best in collaboration with, rather than in opposition to, the great humans working in customer service and customer support. At CCW (Customer Contact Week), the world’s largest and longest-tenured customer contact event, this theme was in evidence everywhere I turned. (If you missed the massive CCW extravaganza this year, it’s returning to Vegas a year from now–June 22-26, 2020, to be exact–but at a new venue, Caesars Palace.) The collaboratory theme was in evidence in the way CallMiner (the nice folks at CCW’s Booth 213) offer their Eureka solution to dissolve the gap between the spoken word and analyzable data, and was a theme of their presentation at CCW in collaboration with Sitel, whose central operating principle is “Empower Humans, Enhance Brands.” It underlay the three presentations in the grand ballroom from UJET’s head of customer success, Conor Sutton, who spoke in tandem with Monika Aufdermauer from August Home. It underlay the work of Lance Gruner, the EVP of Global Customer Care at MasterCard, whose early morning (early-morning by Vegas standards, at least!) keynote on becoming the customer-centricity champion that your organization needs. And in my own presentation on the desires and needs of millennial customers, it came up multiple times, at greatest length and detail in my discussion of NextOS, the new channel-agnostic platform from Nextiva.
There is no question that the deployment and integration of powerful new technology represents challenges in the near-and long-term future, procedurally, organizationally, and in terms of personnel decisions. But for the present, the coast is looking clear–and customer-centric.
July 9, 2019 at 04:51PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs