3 minute read
By Heather Richards
Posted in Customer Engagement
From a purely scientific perspective, AI refers to devices that mimic cognitive functions. Often thought of as an ability to solve complex problems, to learn or to “reason,” AI has wide ranging implications for a big data world.
AI has subtly become a part of everyday life, with applications ranging from virtual assistants (Siri and Cortana) to self-driving cars, security surveillance to smart home devices. AI is also revolutionizing the way businesses interact with customers. From voice recognition and intelligent routing to online customer support, the application of cognitive knowledge management is helping to improve customer self-service and streamline the customer experience.
But when AI fails to respond appropriately to the customer’s need for information—issuing unhelpful replies or sending her on a circular tour from website, to call center, and back to the website—its presence becomes more of a hindrance than a help. It’s too often assumed that AI will intrinsically benefit customers, without focusing on the effort required to complete an interaction.
Of course, not all AI is created equal. Some implementations of AI pay more attention to their outward form than to the quality of the user experience.
These solutions stake a lot on simply being AI, assuming the wonder of a machine mimicking intelligence is sufficient, without fully addressing the complexity of real user requirements. The efficiency of knowledge retrieval becomes secondary. The main emphasis is on scripted interactions, which fail users if their requirements do not match prescribed usage patterns.
In more user-friendly AI design, efficiency is primary. The outward form of the AI is secondary, or even invisible; users can complete a transaction without knowing that the site is enhanced with AI.
The goal is to serve the information the user needs with as little effort as possible. It’s not to create a program that performs intelligence for an audience.
At Verint, we embed our AI behind the scenes. As far as our clients’ customers see, they’re not interacting with “intelligence” but simply performing a search, following a link or reading a knowledge article. The intelligence that retrieves, predicts and actively pushes the information they need is hidden in the background.
We choose this model of interaction for several reasons:
It lets the customer get on with their primary task, without distracting them with a gimmick.
It keeps the range of possibilities open. Users can search, browse lists of articles, or read automatically suggested articles.
It lets the editors of the underlying knowledgebase concentrate on maintaining quality content, rather than having to spend time scripting conversational responses.
One example of a customer who leveraged an AI-enabled knowledge management solution is John Lewis.
John Lewis operates one of the busiest web operations of any High Street retailer and stocks over 200,000 products. The company is developing exponentially, with a significant proportion of growth year on year through the online website.
John Lewis is always looking for ways to enhance its customers’ experience and ensure that its reputation for first-class customer service is consistent across all channels. They identified three areas for improvement:
The self-service option in our knowledge management solution was attractive to John Lewis because the intelligent search, feedback and analytical mechanisms meant that customers were able to find information more easily.
Supporting an annual reduction in the contact ratio of 20 percent means that John Lewis is able to expand sales while improving underlying efficiency. Equally as important is that customers are finding self-service useful.
Over 47 percent of the customers who leave feedback state that they did indeed find the answers helpful. By choosing an AI solution rooted in substance over form, the retailer and their customers experienced the efficiency and quality of answers expected from a knowledge management solution.
AI just might be the new must-have for customer service. Intelligence lies in providing the right information, in the right place and at the right time, with minimal effort by the user. That intelligence can work to deduce needs and serve appropriate help whether customers are aware of its presence or not. It doesn’t have to be “artificial, superficial, condescending, or insulting.”
Unless it’s programmed that way.
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