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How AI improves
the customer experience

Author: Shane Schick

Until recently, many artificial intelligence (AI) applications were narrowly focused on the "front end" of experiences, such as the virtual assistants that consumers use on their smartphones. In other cases, AI has been helping businesses improve operations behind the scenes, such as monitoring plant equipment for potential breakdowns or forecasting product demand.

Yet, there are more even examples of how AI improves the customer experience. Contact centers represent an all-encompassing opportunity for AI—one where the technology can benefit both customers and the agents serving them.

How artificial intelligence is transforming contact centers

AI can be confusing at first because it doesn't represent a single technology. Instead, it acts as an umbrella term for a range of innovative applications. These include machine learning, natural language processing and neural networks, among others.

Approaching AI from a customer-experience perspective forces you to look beyond specific technologies and instead consider the broader business impact. Within contact centers, for example, some benefits of using AI include the following:

Personalized responses

Nobody wants to feel like a number when they reach out to a contact center. Machine learning helps by quickly analyzing a customer's purchase history, past issues, brand preferences and other data. The technology can then offer suggestions to agents that let them make personalized, relevant recommendations for fixes or new products to purchase. Meanwhile, customers feel recognized by the company, which can deepen their relationship with a brand.

Near real-time responses

Poring through and synthesizing data means agents can reduce the time they might have spent manually looking for information while customers are left waiting. AI can also examine caller histories and other behavior to offer intelligent routing capabilities. This means customers will get directed to a live agent when necessary instead of a virtual assistant.

Orchestrating cross-channel messaging

Contact centers evolved from call centers because customers want to reach out in ways other than a phone call: E-mail, text messages and social media are among some of the most preferred communication methods today. In some cases, interactions may involve multiple channels. AI can be used to seamlessly transfer context and conversation details when a customer moves from one channel to the next. The technology will ensure, for instance, that a customer who first reaches out through chat won't have to repeat the same information when they're transferred to a live agent. 

Providing consistent answers

Working in a contact center requires making numerous judgment calls, whether it's handling a product return or walking a customer through a troubleshooting scenario. However, there's a risk that customers may encounter different results based on with whom they are speaking. AI avoids this by surfacing the most effective approaches to various customer issues and helping organizations to standardize processes and policies.

Companies can apply machine learning to analyze customer journeys, for instance, and identify the shortest steps to help customers troubleshoot a product over the phone, or to offer a discount or other special offer, for example, could boost customer retention. 

Requirements for improving the customer experience

Capitalizing on AI's potential in contact centers will play out differently depending on how an organization's IT has evolved and what their strategy is. Implementing AI platforms could require the deployment of new tools in some cases, while in others it could already be in place but not being efficiently and effectively utilized. Discuss your goals and strategy for implementing automation/AI in your contact center with your technology partner and see how they can help.

Given its place in the customer journey, a contact center should be viewed as a strategic asset that deserves the best technologies to support business objectives. Discover for yourself how AI can help you enhance your contact center and deliver the exceptional digital customer experience your customers deserve.