Artificial intelligence (AI) for customer care
is a hot subject. One industry analyst recently shared that,
starting a few months ago, more than 75% of the firm’s customer
inquiries were to discuss just one topic: Using AI to improve customer care.
What are some key insights regarding customer care and AI?
1. AI is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
The top four priorities for customer care have remained consistent for many years:
● Optimize the human element in the contact center
● Save customer time and effort through automation and self-service tools
● Consolidate applications to reduce IT footprint
● Drive towards personalization of the customer experience
AI can help further address self-service outcomes by helping you deepen offers through more
natural and intuitive interfaces. “How may we help you?” will become the most common
question companies ask in their self-service offers compared to today’s largely static interfaces.
2. AI will be everywhere, pervasive and integrated.
The nature of AI is such that you can
infuse it into existing business processes. When executed well, AI should be unnoticeable to your
customer, but result in more delightful and efficient experiences. Some
customer-facing processes will be completely AI driven, while
others will use AI to improve portions of existing processes. It
will become increasingly more difficult to discern when AI is part of a
business process – in a good way.
3. Innovative AI will come from many vendors.
While most people associate customer care AI specifically with
chatbots, many forms of AI will impact the entire customer care value
For example, conversational assistants, driven by AI and machine learning will impact everyday
life outside of customer care situations. Likewise, vertical AI
solutions will drive new value beyond horizontal applications like
search, tailored to the specific needs of that industry.
4. Without context, AI just artificial and not intelligent.
AI needs data and context to be
intelligent. AI-driven customer care processes will only be as good as the quantity and quality
data provided to them, whether by human or non-human sources. For example, customer care
agents will be a primary source of “training” AI for care by providing input and context to
improve AI-driven care outcomes.
5. Cisco AI is connected to context.
We recognize that customer care without context will
disappoint. Cisco Context Service
is a cloud-based source of interaction data used to deliver deep
insights into your customers’ journeys. You can use this context to adjust routing, treatments, and
provide insight to center agents at key moments of truth in the interaction. Don’t punish your
customers for using self-service. Using context lets you provide one continuous experience for
customers when the transition for self-service/bots requires a live agent.
6. AI can improve all parts of traditional contact centers.
Beyond just self-service, you can
integrate AI functions to improve call routing, reporting, and the agent experience. AI will be
pervasive through the entire contact center software stack. For
example, you can improve accuracy by infusing AI-based intent
further in the decision process. You can enhance reporting
with insights gained by combining AI and context, fueling deeper insights into customer behavior.
7. AI is far from perfect and will need human assistance at times.
predictions indicate that AI will displace a large swath of human resources in customer care, AI’s
impact in that regard is many years down the road. Therefore, a smooth continuous escalation
from AI driven self-service to live assistance is critical to delivering a Connected Digital
Next Steps: What to do?
● Stay the course with the goals of your customer care strategy. These likely involve
improving service outcomes while addressing your cost-to-serve profile. However,
recognize there are new AI-driven tools that can impact both.
● Drive AI to improve both the customer and agent experience. A majority of existing AI
efforts focus around customer-facing processes, such as chatbots. These can improve
agent experiences by augmenting complex interactions with AI-driven context.
● Consider AI first as a way to augment, rather than replace existing processes. To gain
momentum, and avoid poor first impressions, consider AI technologies as a complement
to your existing stable of customer care processes – rather than complete replacements.
The next several years will show much progress in the realm of AI and customer care. This
should result in lower cost and better service for customers globally.