Leveraging the right blend of human touch and automation can help deliver effective, personalized customer experiences. While IBM predicts that 85% of all customer interactions won’t involve a live agent by 2020, the real value of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) lies in boosting the human workforce to add more value to the business. For example, setting AI to handle routine issues and tasks, enables live agents to spend more time and effort resolving complex, sensitive issues that require human empathy.

In fact, personalized customer service statistics show the potential impact of customer care—69% of consumers and 82% of business buyers say personal care directly influences their loyalty, with 52% of consumers likely to switch brands if the company in question doesn’t make an effort to personalize communications. By putting automation and AI to work in personalizing service delivery, businesses can effectively engage with and keep more customers, increasing opportunities to upsell and prolong lifetime value.

Make customers instantly feel welcome

Customers expect brands to know who they are. They dislike repeating information during follow-ups on the same or different channels. But here’s the thing, only a few companies have taken advantage of the opportunity to deliver tailored experiences at every turn. Given this opportunity, automation and AI should help them:

  • Authenticate customers via voice biometrics so customers no longer need to provide a password when accessing their accounts.
  • Identify customer intent and issues with the help of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning to estimate, keep tabs on and manage consumer intent for better customer service via suitable automated responses or timely routing to live agents.

Even a simple, automated welcome back message in a live chat can help elevate the experience. Plus, investing in technology can increase both profits and cost savings: around 40% of US consumers purchased more expensive items than originally planned, personalized experience; while automation and AI are projected to provide contact centers with cost savings of more than $8 billion per year by 2022, according to IBM.

Quickly resolve issues

Alongside rising expectations, customers are changing how they use contact channels for customer service. While they still prefer voice and use it as an escalation channel, there is rising preference for self-service portals, messaging apps (Facebook Messenger and Skype) and live chat. Automation and AI can be utilized to:

  • Employ smart call routing to divert customers with more complex issues to agents with appropriate skill sets.
  • Deploy programmable chatbots that allow you to provide smart answers to simple, tier-one questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Provide customer service responses with automated bots programmed to listen in on agents engaging customers via phone call. As the conversation goes, the bot helps the agent by providing the best, suitable answers.

Quicker issue resolution also frees up time and opens the customer to upselling opportunities. In fact, 49% of customers purchased items they did not intend to buy, but bought them anyway, due to a personalized recommendation from a brand. Take note: only 5% of these impulse purchases were returned.

Learn from past interactions

Voluminous customer queries and issues can be mined and analyzed, using automated processes and AI, to deliver rich insights and feed into improving the customer experience. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Analyzing conversational data can uncover insights based on how the interaction with the customer went. Data can be used to fill in the gaps in business efficiency, among others.
  • Reviewing of agents’ calls and surveys enable businesses to leverage NLP in analyzing the survey-provided text fields and reviews to shed light on further ways to satisfy the customer in the long run.

This elevates customer service from a task list of customer issues to be resolved with ongoing conversations with customers, which in turn, lessens customer churn and increases customer loyalty—the “Holy Grail” of personalization. In fact, a study revealed that 44% of customers will repeat after a personalized shopping experience.

Embrace the future of customer care

However, this doesn’t mean automation and AI will elbow out the human touch anytime soon. Projections reveal only 3% of jobs will be potentially impacted by automation in 2020. Instead, they’ll go hand-in-hand to complement and support each other, not just in contact centres but across multiple industries.

With robotic processes delivering consistent outcomes, customers can continue to count on live agents to heighten the personalized experience and solve complex issues that need critical thinking and empathic handling which requires the human touch.

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