The robots are coming…but not as fast as some might think.

That is the prediction of Claire Sporton, the recently appointed Senior Vice President of CX Innovation at ‘Voice of the Customer’ experts Confirmit.

The London-based long-time CX professional has spent many years at the forefront of delivering great Customer Experience, but her new role allows her to lift her head, focus her gaze, and start observing what is “coming down the road” in the industry.

From this vantage point, Claire has observed Artificial Intelligence (AI) as it trundles ever closer to full and irreversible integration in our lives.

While many in business welcome this change, others remain understandably wary, especially in light of fears that AI will eventually replace people working in CX engine rooms, such as contact centres.

Fear not, Claire tells Customer Experience Magazine, as the human touch will always be required to come in and take over at points where AI just doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

“These last few years with Confirmit, I have been heading up a group working directly with clients, whereas this new role is expanding on what I have done before,” she said.

“I’m stepping back from some of the direct delivery work – I’m spreading my wings and looking to the future of CX. When you are at the coalface, you work mainly on the day-to-day immediate business issues. When you are focussing on where the value is, you don’t have time to look to the horizon, but that is where I am now – in a position to see what is coming down the road.”

On that road is an inevitability: AI. Yet just because there is no going back from this huge industry change, it doesn’t mean that we should want to.

“My inbox is packed with AI this and AI that…it’s everywhere,” Claire continued.

“What does it really mean for CX though? I would suggest…yes…the robots are indeed coming, but not quite as quickly as people think they are. They aren’t going to be taking over all of our CX jobs immediately…but they will get to a further stage of prominence.

However, from a CX point of view, we shouldn’t be looking at AI replacing humans. Rather, the technology should augment what a human can offer. We need to think about how we can use AI as human beings to help us make better decisions in terms of Customer Experience.

Look at team leaders in contact centres – how can we provide each of these individuals with the information and insight they need to make better decisions? This is where AI can help. AI can bring together the data sources – customer feedback, financial data etc – and provide guidance. We don’t want robots making the decisions, we want robots to be guiding the humans making the decisions. We still want our humans to be using those amazing brains, using their hearts and guts.

There will always be times when, as customers, we want to speak with a human being. If I want to check my bank account, that’s one thing I can rely on AI for. But if I’m planning my retirement, then I’m going to want to speak with a person.”

Claire added: “From collecting to analysing feedback – AI is undoubtedly a huge part of our CX futures, but the time to fear it is past. Embrace its potential to make us humans better at doing what we love to do – deliver a fantastic customer experience.”

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