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What should you do about the Backlash against AI?

Forrester predicts a year of reckoning for AI in 2019. The market research firm foresees a backlash against automated chatbots which routinely exasperate customers searching for assistance.

The high expectations placed on AI in customer service will fall back to earth within the new year as well. The intended cost savings through reduced headcount in the service center will not outweigh the damage done to customer satisfaction in the short term of a hyper-competitive market. Buyer behavior models on high-risk decisions have been predicated on the three important characteristics: financial investment, the duration life of the decision, and a lack of confidence in judging alternatives. These factors likely go into any company’s customer service decisions for any approach including AI and human agents.

What should CX, Customer Care, and Sales leaders do about the AI backlash?

1. Be realistic about the limitations of AI

Forrester says that the stratospherically high expectations on chatbots and their effectiveness will reasonably fall back to earth, and the cost savings from a reduced human headcount won’t be worth it even in the middle of a hyper-competitive market. Glance believes AI has an appropriate role in the relationship between the enterprise and the customer. However, CX professionals must begin by understanding the customer journey and determine which interactions are best handled by bots and which are handled by humans. High-complexity transactions should be given the human touch.

CX professionals should map customer journeys and determine which ones are appropriate for automated support vs. human support. For example, in this graphic, you can see that a Loan Calculator would be an AI function and a Loan Application would receive human support.

2. Build better escalation paths from AI to humans

Forrester predicts that “A whopping 60% of chatbot deployments in 2019 will not have effective live-agent safety nets attached to web chat sessions.”

It’s no wonder that customers have grown to hate chatbots because they are often ineffective and offer the frustrated customer no recourse.  CEB (now part of Gartner) reported that, although customers may have a preferred method of communication with your brand, 84% of customers simply want their issue resolved as quickly and easily as possible and are willing to be directed to the best possible option to achieve that result. 

In other words: if AI can deliver a speedy solution to the customer’s problem, the customer will be satisfied. But what happens when AI fails to solve the problem? Glance strongly suggests that you build an escalation path that allows the customer to rapidly escalate from the failure from AI to awesome human engagement that can convey empathy, solve the problem, and save the day.

3. Invest in technology that creates superhuman customer service reps

Forrester predicts that one-third of companies will modernize agent desktops to augment the human workforce. Instead of using technology to replace humans, use technology to improve the agent’s ability to do their job. Add to the agent toolbox technologies that help agents connect on an emotional level, understand the customer more fully and easily, solve problems faster, and communicate in a more effective way. The ability of a service provider to demystify and personalize customer experience is the tiebreaker given equal performance profiles of the service providers. This is the ultimate “brand enhancer.”

4. Automate KPI capture in the CRM

Sales reps revile the coming of AI because of its capabilities to collect KPIs, grade sales reps, and penalize underperformers. Forrester predicts that salespeople will start to game the system and input falsified data into systems in an effort to save face.

There is another way to take KPI gamesmanship completely out of the equation, of course, and that’s by building frictionless workflows for agents that automatically capture KPIs in the CRM. With Glance, for example, visual engagement is built into the agent’s workflow. Sharing sessions can be launched with a single mouse click from the CRM UI, and metadata for sharing sessions is automatically captured within the CRM. Glance has an open API as well as seamless pre-built integrations with Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Microsoft Dynamics.

Conclusion

Providing exemplary customer service is a linchpin in capturing and retaining customers. The way to succeed in 2019 is to achieve the right balance of technology and humanity.

To learn more on this topic, view the recorded webinar “The ROI of Humanizing Customer Service Engagement” featuring Glance and Forrester, hosted by Destination CRM.

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