Chat, AI & Robotics – will it benefit the CX?

The digital transformation is well underway, driven by both customer demand for digital options and an industry-wide commitment to improving CX.

According to the 2017 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report released by Dimension Data, CX robotics are creating a new reality that demands a new approach. The report identifies these top 5 channel focus areas, with a note that phone volumes have dropped by 17% since 2015:

  1. Virtual assistant (chat bots)
  2. Instant messaging (incl. web chat)
  3. Mobile apps
  4. Video chat
  5. IoT

Three of the five channel focuses are Chat-related, with Chat bots at the top and IoT expected to double. It’s clear that there is an immediate need for businesses to provide an effective and future-proof chat solution as one of their digital options.

Chat can be EPIC – Easy, Personalized, Informed, Connected

The findings in the report echo what Upstream Works and Contact Strategies presented in our recent Webinar “Let’s Chat”, namely that digital interactions are on track to overtake voice.

But if digital channels like chat are not implemented well, going digital can do more harm than good. Businesses extending their CX channel capabilities need to ensure that the strategy and solution are EPIC:

Personalized & Proactive

All too often the customer experience over digital channels is disjointed, and far from “EPIC”. And the challenge isn’t just limited to excessive wait times. There are many potential failure points, including agents not being skilled for the interaction, lacking information, or providing the wrong information.

E is for EASY

Chat, and indeed any interaction in the omnichannel contact center, needs to be easy – for both customer and agent. It should be effortless for the customer to reach out how and when they want, be greeted by a knowledgeable agent, and have their issue resolved quickly. On the agent side, it should be simple for them to answer the interaction with one common interface for all channels, be provided with a full view of the customer, have easy access to all the information and tools needed for the transaction, and manage several interactions simultaneously.

P is for Personalized & Proactive

Personalization is key to a CX that is not only positive, but fosters customer loyalty and repeat business. With social media, every interaction is an opportunity to either win accolades or suffer negative, damaging publicity. Offering a personalized experience helps preserve a feeling of loyalty and appreciation which is so lacking in this age of self-service and faceless corporate giants. There is a lot of power in greeting a customer with not just their name but an understanding of their preferences, purchase history, and interactions with other departments in the organization. Consider the possibilities when an agent is so informed that they have a prediction on their screen about what the customer will want to discuss next. With this knowledge, the agent not only demonstrates that they understand this customer, they can proactively make suggestions and cross-sell useful products and services. Agents go from First Contact Resolution to Proactive Contact – where agents are solving problems for customers that they didn’t even know they had!

I is for Informed

Chat done right is about not just knowing the customer history, but being able to access resources within the contact center to provide an informed and streamlined CX. With the right tools, such as a Marquee, agents can see and acknowledge departmental notifications and alerts that help them be more efficient and accurate in their work. Templates are useful too, particularly dynamic templates where information in the template is populated automatically based on contact information. Other ways to ensure an informed CX include providing reusable FAQ type content that can be pasted into chats or other digital media, and being able to consult and conference in subject matter experts.

C is for Connected

To resolve most customer requests, chat or otherwise, agents need to access more than one system – and that usually involves piecing together the customer journey through several different applications and databases. Though that conjures up images of a desktop cluttered with a mishmash of icons and windows that are bolted together and secured lovingly with duct tape, it doesn’t have to be that way.

A good, connected experience can be seamless and invisible to the customer who frankly doesn’t care about what systems are running in the background. Done right, integrations leverage what the business already has and uses every day; make the experience simple and painless for the agent; and provide a streamlined and informed experience for the customer.

Delivering an EPIC CX isn’t just a chat objective. Chat is one component of a digitally transformed contact center that provides easy, personalized, informed and connected customer experiences across every point of contact.

Robots vs Humans

The Dimension Data report explores “man vs machine”, identifying human cost and productivity as being challenged as CX robotics become more established. Upstream Works has discussed in earlier posts the fact that agents are now required to be highly specialized because of the increase in self-service. This is even more the case with CX robotics – where customer inquiries are interpreted and serviced by computers, only reaching agents when circumstances require escalation. Agents are required to be experts right out of the gate, which means they need better access to more targeted and detailed knowledge and customer information. The 2016 Dimension Data report was framed around the theme “Digital needs a human touch”, and this remains the case as we move through 2017 and beyond. The 2017 report cautions that organizations need to ensure that CX Robotics and indeed any evolving technology needs to be fully supported from design to deployment to review. It’s an ongoing, iterative process that requires solution flexibility and agility.

Though it’s still early days for CX Robotics, there is no doubt that it’s coming. Now is the time to put in place a solid CX solution that not only meets the current customer need, but provides a platform that allows for straightforward incorporation of evolving capabilities that will effectively support a transformed and exceptional CX.

See how Upstream Works for Finesse is transforming the CX – watch a demo or download our recent webinar – Let’s Chat!