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Is your customer experience always getting smarter?

By Michael Lawder
Chief Experience Officer, ASAPP

ASAPP - Is your customer experience always getting smarter?

Pressure to deliver better customer experiences at lower cost is a real challenge. Balancing these two competing priorities is driving innovation, with the real paradigm shift coming from innovations in machine learning and AI.

Automation already plays a role in reducing costs, but when the sole focus is on efficiency, the customer experience often suffers. You risk frustrating customers who express their dissatisfaction in social media and worse, leaving your brand. I think the future of customer experience is using AI to create a self-learning, digital-first business – one that gets smarter all the time – to address many challenging factors at once.

Machine learning is key. It deepens your understanding about customers to better identify where automation works best, and how to personalize interactions across channels. And it empowers agents with predictive knowledge to make them significantly more efficient and productive.

Automate away the routine, not the CX

Ideally, the goal of automation is to accelerate service delivery and resolution for customers, in ways that improve customer experience and lower costs. However, automation should not be exclusively about eliminating human involvement. Satisfying customers without live intervention needs to be part of it; but you also want labor-saving technology that makes live agents more efficient and effective.

Chatbots are great for automating simple tasks. But it would take an army of people to imagine and program all the possible scenarios to fully replicate the experience of speaking with a live agent. That’s why I think automation is most empowering with a system that continuously learns from agents the right thing to say and do in every situation. You can then apply those learnings to automate more and more interactions into predictive suggestions. And over time, those suggestions become actions that the system can automatically handle on behalf of an agent, leaving the agent to more complicated tasks that require a human touch.

In other words, automation becomes the brain of the process, not the process itself. Yes, it powers automated self-service. AND with predictive knowledge, it shortens the time it takes for agents to address issues, which means they can serve customers better, faster, and easier.

Grow smarter agents, smarter channels

Even if you automate away common tasks, many situations still need the human touch. You want those experiences to keep getting smarter as well. Empowering agents with machine learning predictive knowledge ensures they can handle any situation as effectively as your best agent. Real-time conversational analytics and machine learning fuel proactive suggestions that make agents more efficient at handling complex conversations, so every agent can address specialized topics and scenarios.

Intelligent, labor-saving technology also helps solve the common customer complaint about fragmented experiences. People get frustrated when they can’t get help through their preferred digital channels, and even more annoyed if they need to switch channels mid-conversation and have to start all over again.

An integrated, self-learning platform enables seamless continuity across all service channels. Digital messaging, in particular, allows customers to pause a conversation (and even jump from chat to texting or social media to chat), while keeping a continuous thread going until they get everything they need. A smart system ensures they don’t have to start over, saving time and effort for both customers and agents.

Michael Lawder

At every company I’ve ever worked, any time we delivered a great experience to a customer, their lifetime value went up. Delivering smarter, faster, more personal customer service is at the heart of every great customer experience.

Increase value with continuous learning

Enabling a customer service organization to continuously get smarter is one of the things I love most about AI. Over time, you keep learning new ways to automate for efficiency, new ways to help agents work more productively — and also new ways to extract value from a wealth of data.

An AI-driven system enables you to harness volumes of data from every conversation across every channel. It analyzes real-time voice transcription and text data from multi-channel digital messaging for increasingly valuable insights you can put to use. It also factors in voice of the customer data from across the enterprise for more informed decision-making.

Intelligent conversational analytics give you a competitive edge. You can better know your customers to provide more personalized support. You can equip agents to resolve issues faster. And you can ensure the knowledge of your best agents is available for everyone to use.

It’s the ultimate digital-first strategy, enabling companies to optimize customer service and CX in very focused ways that increase satisfaction and drive loyalty.

But wait, there’s more. Conversational insights also deliver value well beyond the contact center. Sales and marketing can gain substantially deeper understanding of customer concerns, buying patterns, and decision drivers. This enables the business to deliver more relevant and personalized predictive offers to increase revenue and marketing ROI.

Go big with transformative results

I’ve been in customer experience for over two decades, starting as a call center agent long ago, and only now am I seeing AI really deliver transformative results. ASAPP enables businesses to continuously get smarter, reinventing customer service in ways that translate into retention and brand loyalty to improve the bottom line.

Michael Lawder is Customer Experience Officer at ASAPP.

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