What the Customer’s Voice Can Tell a Business

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way companies do business, and that's OK. In fact, it can be a good thing. AI will free people to focus on uniquely human skills like creativity, intuition and empathy. It will re-focus roles from task-based to strategic so that businesses can focus on sparking originality over driving efficiency.

Put another way, the key to automation is imagining how humans and machines can create a partnership that drives business growth. The fact is, because AI systems can analyze such massive amounts of varied data in short periods of time, it opens up a multitude of new insights business leaders can use to shape or reshape their customer experiences.

But business leaders can only take advantage of these advancements if they know how to properly balance the machines that provide the insights and the humans that are working with them.

For an example of this, let's look at the call center industry, a $5 billion market that is growing at an estimated 15 percent annually.

According to Gartner, more than 90 percent of all customer interactions occur over the phone across 18 million contact center users. These interactions lead to more than 420 billion words spoken per day, all of which can offer key insights into customers' buying habits and other critical behaviors from which business leaders can glean insights.

Now automated platforms can turn every spoken word into accurate text, making each conversation searchable (inclusive of personal identification) and insightful by leveraging machine learning. Platforms such as Tethr offer transcription and a first and only searchable call archive that provides contextual, multidimensional insights framed through and backed by major research institutions and an intuitive user interface that allows the machine to be trained and learn.

For example, a major home services company is using the Tethr machine learning platform to dissect the language used by its best service and sales representatives, looking for the specific phrases and language techniques that lead to both positive and negative customer reactions. The company is using these insights to overhaul the sales training and coaching it delivers to reps and has seen record improvements in call conversion rates and sales retention rates as a result.

Business leaders can now look at this analytical data with their other critical business data for sales, marketing, and operational effectiveness improvements. Wealth management or sales teams can identify customer buying triggers, while the compliance team can identify keywords and phrases to avoid violations.

Botting In

Beyond analyzing conversations, AI is enhancing customer service through automated experiences like chatbots. These machines know everything about customers' interactions with the company, including orders, failed orders, searches on the website, past transactions, previous calls, and anything that was shared on this call. With this knowledge already on hand, a bot can address customer concerns quickly, using the collected wisdom of the company, including the absolute latest data on issues other customers face and how to solve them.

This type of machine-led interaction can increase customer satisfaction and inspire customer loyalty if well executed. But it also can offer valuable insights to business leaders. The information generated throughout the entire process can then be leveraged in myriad ways, from improving the experience for the next caller, to refining products and services, to personalizing future interactions with the specific customer.

One company already implementing chatbots for customer interactions is Burberry, well-known as a digital trailblazer in the fashion business. The bots offer customers a wealth of data, imagery, and links to the company's latest collections to help them put together their desired looks./p>

In today's crowded, competitive market, superior customer experience management is a critical growth driver. However, deploying and managing these AI-enabled, next-generation digital call centers that serve a global audience can be costly and complex. The key is to build a customer experience strategy based on the cloud, leveraging open APIs and global SIP trunking, which can be deployed on-demand, virtually anywhere in the world. This ensures minimum capital investment and maximum scalability while delivering a consistent, seamless, reliable service across existing and new markets.

The growth and implementation of chatbots and other automated platforms will lead to a hybrid services model in customer service. Humans will be empowered to offer augmented, enhanced service for the most valuable customers. And given that it can take a long time to retrain and reskill employees, it is imperative that companies begin planning for these transitions now.

Ultimately, the winners of the automation revolution will be the individuals and organizations that look most aggressively at how they can leverage these latest digital technologies for a competitive advantage.

Bob Laskey is senior vice president of the Americas at Tata Communications.