Ryan FalkenbergRyan FalkenbergMay 7, 2019
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6min529

Ask the leadership of any reasonably-sized company what technology they’re looking to implement and they’ll almost invariably mention artificial intelligence (AI).

In theory, that’s great, because AI has the potential to fundamentally change the way a businesses operates and creates a great Customer Experience. The longer the business uses an AI application, the better the experience should get. Given enough time, the system can collect enough data on each individual customer to provide meaningful, hyper-personalised experiences.

Implemented badly, however, AI can be a total disaster. Rather than feeling like the business they’re dealing with cares about them, they’re left with the impression that customer service has been handed over to a bunch of dimwitted machines.

Let’s talk about chatbots

The easiest way to illustrate how varied the AI experience can be is to look at chatbots. They’re the kind of front-facing AI that more companies are using and which an increasingly large body of customers are familiar with. Trouble is, most companies are terrible at implementing chatbots.

Apart from a few forward-thinking exceptions, companies tend to put a chatbot on their website in the hope that that it will learn from each interaction it has with a customer and that its answers will become more nuanced over time. They also operate in the belief that customers will tell the chatbot when it’s wrong, helping to train it further (hands up if you’ve ever done this willingly).

That would be great…if the chatbot was actually equipped to do so. However, for the most part, chatbots are simply going through the company’s existing knowledge bases and serving you with a document (or, in the worst cases, multiple documents) to try and help. It’s essentially a slightly smarter form of search.

As anyone who’s tried to use the search function on a corporate website will tell you – that’s not particularly helpful, especially when you’ve got a specific query. Let’s say that I want to know if I can insure my sunglasses. I don’t want to have to scour through insurance agency documents to try and figure out the answer. I just want the answer.

Contextual, hyper-personalised, relevant

As long as chatbots rely on a flawed architecture that depends on the existence of relevant documents containing the needed information, they won’t be able to provide that answer.

If you’re going to use AI to improve CX, you need to take a different approach. If you want to operate in the digital era and want to drive logic through data then you need to start it in data. That means looking beyond your existing documentation and CX architecture and integrating insight into customer behaviour across digital and offline channels.

This approach will, ultimately, allow you to offer customer support that is hyper-personalised, relevant, and compliant.

A chatbot built on this kind of framework understands what you’re asking and can answer specific questions according to what you actually need. While that’s just one small part of CX, anyone who’s cursed a company for failing to provide useful information, will know how important it is.

The aim of AI

That said, this approach shouldn’t be limited to chatbots. Consistency – in style, tone, and content – is one of the most important factors in successful CX.

It’s therefore imperative that any organisation turning to AI to improve CX apply a data-first architecture across every customer-facing channel. So, whether I make a query using a chatbot, the search function on a website, or a call centre, I should get the same – relevant – answer.

However, if this is going to happen, businesses need to stop trying to bolt AI onto their existing architectures and take an approach that allows it to reach its full potential.

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 12, 2019
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4min967

Large majorities of British consumers prefer dealing with humans over automated services for everything from querying a bill (85 percent) and changing account details (62 percent), to making a complaint (84 percent), buying a product or service for the first time (77 percent), chasing an order (73 percent), or dealing with a fault (78 percent).

These are the findings of an online YouGov survey of more than 2,000 British adults commissioned by CX firm Webhelp.

Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) said they had never used any type of AI, but amongst those who had there was widespread dissatisfaction around its efficacy and perceived value. Nearly half (44 percent) also believe that AI will not positively impact their lives in any way over the next five years.

Just over a quarter of respondents said they had used a customer service chatbot (27 percent), interactive voice response or IVR (27 percent), or smart home speaker such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home (26 percent).

Whilst over a third of those who had used these types of AI were dissatisfied with the chatbots (35 percent) and IVR (38 percent), smart home speakers proved more popular – possibly because these are chosen rather than encountered by chance. Fewer than half (45 percent) of those who had experienced a customer service chatbot were satisfied with it and 38 percent were either fairly or very dissatisfied with IVR. In contrast, 77 percent claimed to be satisfied with smart home speakers.

Looking ahead five years, over a quarter of respondents (26percent) felt that increased use of AI-driven Customer Experience tools would make interacting with companies “much worse” compared to only 19 percent who felt the impact would be positive. Other negative perceptions include fear that AI will make dealing with brands/companies more impersonal (52 percent), increased threats to privacy and security (46 percent), and detrimental impact to human-to-human interactions (43 percent).

Webhelp CEO David Turner said: “We know from anecdotal evidence that human-to human contact is important, but this study goes even further, highlighting the degree to which people favour it over AI-powered customer service tools and are negative about AI’s potential future impact.

“As exposure to AI increases in day-to-day life, people are likely to become more receptive, but this research confirms the importance of striking the right balance between the advanced technology services we offer and the incredible human talent of our local teams of agents, advisors and planners. Our approach will always be customer experience driven, so this window into consumer perception is extremely valuable for helping our clients implement AI solutions which offer clear end-user value.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 9, 2019
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4min603

New research among British businesses examining employees’ attitudes toward digital transformation, innovation, and cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, reveals confusion about the true meaning of ‘digital transformation’ and a high degree of scepticism about their employers’ appetite for digital innovation.

The research, conducted by YouGov amongst employees at 500 businesses with 50 or more employees, on behalf of Cherwell Software, reveals that 57 percent of employees don’t know the correct meaning of ‘digital transformation’: 20 percent of respondents could not hazard a guess at its meaning, and 12 percent thought it meant moving to a paperless office.

This research focuses on the view from the workforce itself and its findings go a long way to explain why the 2018  Dell Digital Transformation Index placed the UK in 17th place in its adoption of digital transformation, lagging way behind emerging countries like India, Brazil, and Thailand.

In a further blow to the image of UK businesses, the survey highlights a reluctance to adopt cutting edge technology.  According to the survey, just nine percent of businesses are viewed by their workforce as being digital innovators, whilst 64 percent of employers only take on new technology after it has become widely available.

“It’s obvious that not enough time is being devoted to communicating with employees to develop their understanding and involvement in the process of digital transformation,” said Oliver Krebs, Vice President of EMEA sales for Cherwell.

“Unless business leaders bring their teams along with them on this journey British organisations are likely to fail and our ability to compete in the global market place will be severely compromised.”

Mixed reaction to Artificial Intelligence

Meanwhile, reactions to adoption of AI in the workplace were mixed: 34 percent of employees were confused (five percent), threatened (21 percent), or saddened ( eight percent); 20 percent were optimistic (16 percent) or excited (four percent); and 30 percent were intrigued – suggesting once again that leadership teams have not effectively communicated and engaged their team in the adoption of new technology.

Cross-departmental integration

Central to the success of most digital transformation projects is ensuring a consistent and integrated approach to the use of processes and data across all departments. Yet the survey reveals that just six percent of businesses’ data and processes are very well integrated across all departments, and 42 percent have not integrated inter-departmental data and processes well.

Andre Cuenin, Chief Revenue Officer at Cherwell said: “The research demonstrates that UK businesses still have a lot to learn in terms of planning and implementing digital transformation and their adoption of new technologies like artificial intelligence if they want to shed their image of digital innovation followers. The deep level of confusion and miscommunication amongst employees must be addressed by industry leaders.

“This may be due to the fact that digital transformation is frequently pigeon-holed as an IT issue, whereas in reality it should be seen as an initiative that involves everyone across the business, from the board, down to the most junior employee.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 2, 2019
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3min434

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems spending will reach $5.2 billion (£3.9b) in Europe this year – a 49 percent increase over 2018, according to International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Semiannual Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide.

AI solution adoption and spending are both growing at a fast pace in Europe, where companies are moving beyond experimentation to the actual implementation of use cases. In fact, 34 percent of European companies have already adopted or will have adopted AI by the end of this year across a wide variety of use cases, according to IDC’s European Vertical Markets Survey 2018–2019. By 2022, European spending in AI will reach $13.5 billion, reflecting fast-growing interest in AI technologies.

Andrea Minonne, Senior Research Analyst at IDC Customer Insight & Analysis in Europe, said: “Many European retailers, such as Sephora, ASOS, and Zara, as well as banks such as NatWest and HSBC, are already experiencing the benefits of AI – including increased store visits, higher revenues, reduced costs, and more pleasant and personalised customer journeys. Industry-specific use cases related to automation of processes are becoming mainstream and the focus is set to shift toward next-generation use of AI for personalisation or predictive purposes.”

Matt Hooper, SVP at customer communications specialist IMImobile, added: “It’s encouraging to see automation and Customer Experience driving increased investment in AI. Automation is key to achieving significant operational efficiencies and delivering proactive, end-to-end customer communication – yet most companies are only touching the tip of the iceberg. Currently, very few companies are truly automating customer
 communications end-to-end, as a result of data being spread across different business systems and the complexities of integrating NLP and AI capabilities.

“In many cases, at some stage in their journey, customers are either required to change communications channels, interact with a different department, or simply wait days for a transaction or interaction to be completed. For companies to fully
realise the benefits of automation and AI, they need to build and have visibility into the end-to-end customer journey. Only then can they drive proactive two-way customer communication.”


Aleksandar IlićAleksandar IlićJune 19, 2018
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6min1244

Giovanni Toschi is the Founder of AI firms Jatana and BotSupply. The Copenhagen-based entrepreneur took time out to talk to CXM about how we are firmly in the middle of the Golden Age of Customer Experience, and where the industry can go from here…

Your role must give you a great perspective on what businesses need and what customers expect from them. How do you see the overall  role of Customer Experience today?

Giovanni Toschi

Customer Experience is probably going through its Golden Age right now. The awareness of businesses all around the world has grown a lot and they really do care about CX and overall customer satisfaction. No business is unique, everyone has competitors; it’s the relationship with your customers that makes the difference between successful companies and the rest of the businesses that fall behind.

What do companies often do wrong when it comes to CX?

There is more than one thing. First of all, many are faking it. They try to seem like they really care for the customer while they actually care for the cash. Yes, everyone is in the business for the money, but that does not mean you should treat your customers as a number or data. They’re not, and they know when you do that.
Second, they do not devote themselves too much. Low effort to satisfy a customer in most cases end up with bad results for the company.

Customer support plays a big role in Customer Experience. How do you see it?

Interaction between the company and the customer is half of it, honestly. The ways you connect with your customers, including providing customer support, is a key differentiator today.

Automation is a hot topic. Do you think it improves the efficiency of a company and Customer Experience in general?

Absolutely yes, if used correctly. Customers today want everything almost instantly. Twenty-four hours to reply is no longer enough – you have to act fast. But they also want you to show effort and focus on them as an individual. That’s where automation kicks in. It provides instant replies to frequently asked questions, and agents can focus on the more complex topics and connect to the customer on a personal level.

When it comes to automation, it is often associated with the fear of AI replacing humans and taking over their jobs. Do you think this is true and how do you see the future with ‘robots’ as our coworkers?

The same fear was present with the industrial revolution, yet we did not lose jobs, we just created new ones. Machines can replace humans in many positions, but that only means new positions will open. Humans will always have their advantages over robots.

What exactly is Jatana?

We are on a mission to bring Artificial Intelligence to customer support teams of any size. Using Jatana, any company can set up AI automation in their contact centre in a matter of hours. Our solution allows support agents to focus on the issues that matter while leaving repetitive tasks to the AI.

What inspired you and your team to create this tool?

Since 2016, at BotSupply, we have been helping companies like Carlsberg and Mercedes leverage conversational AI to provide better Customer Experience. In the process, we kept on getting requests to develop a solution that could do the same for email support. We put together an initial MVP and after closing the first customer we decided to spin-off the product into a stand-alone company and that’s how Jatana was born.

Could you give us an example of a company that successfully included your tool (or any other automated service) into their business?

We have been operational for a few months only but our customer base includes companies from Scandinavia, as well as other parts of Europe and Asia. A good example is Stocard, a fast-growing German company that developed an app to keep all your loyalty cards in one place.

What is your message to the readers of Customer Experience Magazine?

If you’re reading this magazine that already means that you do care about Customer Experience. That’s great – stay on the right track, follow what’s trending, and don’t let competitors leave you behind. Try to be one step ahead, as that’s how you win the race.




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