Why Artificial Intelligence Now—and Why in Customer Care?
Sheila McGee-Smith is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant with a proven track record in new product development, competitive assessment, market research, and sales strategies for customer care solutions and services. Her insight helps enterprises and solution providers develop strategies to meet the escalating demands of today’s consumer and business customers.
It seems one cannot pick up a newspaper or magazine in 2018 without seeing a headline related to artificial intelligence (AI). In September 2018, The Wall Street Journal published a thought-provoking article, The Human Promise of the AI Revolution. Taking an opposite and certainly a more sensationalist approach, Newsweek had this headline in its Tech & Science section, Forget Terrorism, Climate Change and Pandemics: Artificial Intelligence is the Biggest Threat to Humanity.
Another signal of the rising relevance of artificial intelligence comes from the United States government. The Pentagon’s high-tech research agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—which laid the groundwork for the Internet, stealth aircraft and self-driving cars—announced a $2 billion investment to push the frontier of AI forward. While the value and the potential dander will continue to be debated, there can be no doubt that AI will feature more and more in our everyday and business lives.
But what will AI mean to those who work in the contact center, and to others in government, education, healthcare and business that work to improve citizen, student, patient, or customer experiences? The converging dynamics of all these groups demanding better services and organizations recognizing the limitations of ad hoc, patchwork customer experience solutions, have resulted in the term “digital transformation” being elevated to the top of the to-do list of both Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) worldwide.
How does digital transformation translate into business goals, and more importantly into measurable business outcomes? From a contact center perspective, companies can easily list their top priorities:
- Faster order processing-shorter time to money.
- Reduced complaints-higher customer satisfaction, which is typically tied to repeat business and higher referral propensity.
- More online activity—improved customer access to digital interaction channels.
What quickly becomes apparent is that each of these business outcomes is tightly connected to improving customer care. It is no surprise then that delivering customer care is at the heart of some of the earliest projects in artificial intelligence. Some contact center solutions have begun to deliver chatbot solutions that incorporate AI-enhanced natural language processing. Others have incorporated predictive models that allow agents to better understand why a customer is contacting the company based on machine learning of similar calls from comparable customers.
Join me and Paul Lang, head of contact center marketing for Avaya, for a live webinar on October 4, 2018, as we discuss the reality and the promise of artificial intelligence for delivering exceptional customer experiences.
Two areas we will focus on will be what the short-term future holds for AI functionality for agents and customers and specifically how Avaya is innovating in the AI space, both internally and with technology partners like Afiniti. The information presented will give participants the ammunition they need to begin to make informed decisions about how to plan for artificial intelligence effectively in their customer care operations.