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How artificial intelligence in the contact center improves customer satisfaction

Posted February 27, 2018
Customer holding a smartphone

It’s no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) is significantly impacting the customer experience.

A survey conducted by MIT Technology Review found that more than 90 percent of globally recognized brands known for their high level of customer satisfaction — including Lexus, Alibaba and Zurich Insurance — are using AI in their customer service strategies.

Here’s a look at how AI in the contact center can improve customer satisfaction (CSAT), and why it should be part of your overall customer service action plan.

Improving feedback surveys

Contact centers have long relied on customer surveys to measure CSAT scores and make improvements to the customer experience.

While beneficial, feedback surveys come with a unique set of challenges. “Long surveys are frustrating and don’t respect your customers’ time,” says Bob Hayes, a data scientist and president of consulting firm Business Over Broadway. “Companies should think critically about the information they get, why they’re asking questions and whether they can get that information someplace else.”

AI reinvents the feedback-gathering process for the better. For example, Hayes is using machine learning and natural language processing to gather reviews on the customer experience in a non-obtrusive way. The tool picks up on word choices and other customer-sentiment indicators during the actual customer service interaction, allowing the company to get the basic CSAT questions out of the way and focus on more meaningful, in-depth queries. “We don’t have to use rating scales to reliably measure attitudes,” adds Hayes. “We can now use the customers’ own words to measure satisfaction [in real-time].”

Faster access to information

Gathering and analyzing feedback is only part of the puzzle when it comes to keeping customers satisfied. According to the Chief Marketing Officer Council’s 2017 The Customer in Context report, nearly 40 percent of customers say that getting “information where and when I need it” is a top attribute of an exceptional customer experience.

In today’s smartphone era, customers are used to getting information immediately and with minimal effort. The easier it is for consumers to find what they’re looking for on their own — whether through FAQs or a Q&A community — the higher their satisfaction.

For example, Airline carrier KLM is using artificial intelligence to recommend answers to questions commonly asked by its customers on social media. Letting an AI-powered tool help field some of the more popular inquiries shows customers that your company respects their time, while also freeing up your agents to tend to more complex issues. In social media marketing, AI-powered chatbots embedded in platforms — like Facebook Messenger, Twitter or Instagram’s direct messaging option— can quickly answer customer questions right within the apps that they know and love.

As another example, the customer service department at VenueLytics — an integrated customer analytics, loyalty and engagement platform for casinos, resorts, golf clubs and more — is working to streamline their contact center operations for enhanced customer support. The company’s white-label ‘digital concierge app,’ uses machine learning to determine whether a visitor has been to a location before, what services they’ve previously used and other tidbits of data to personalize communications and offers, such as automated recommendations for events in the area. “Consumers don’t have to search across multiple sites for information, saving customers time and effort,” says Baskar Manivannan, chief technology officer of VenueLytics. “The idea isn’t to replace human agents with AI, but to help them create an even better experience for consumers.”

Analytics and personalized messaging

Personalization is a fundamental building block for providing exceptional and differentiated experiences, and when it’s incorporated into the customer journey, it goes a long way toward enhancing CSAT scores. “Companies in customer-obsessed industries such as banking, gaming, telecom, consumer technology and software are increasingly seeking to deliver personalized, highly contextual experiences,” says Olly Downs, CEO of AI marketing company Amplero. “New artificial intelligence technologies are finally providing companies with a complete view of every event, transaction and purchase their customers have made in order to support the provision of an optimized experience to each individual customer.”

Downs offers telecommunications as an example of where AI can make a notable impact. Telcos have “a treasure trove” of data at their disposal, ranging from a mobile customer’s phone type to their data usage and location. With the help of AI, this customer data can be applied to create more personalized marketing messages and chatbot conversations, as well as to shape contact center interactions and online exchanges.

With Gartner predicting that AI, machine learning and virtual assistants will continue to be the leading technology trends in the years to come, companies are looking to maximize their opportunity in the customer experience space. “In 2018, machines will help (companies) to finally understand each consumer and engage with them at the individual level for an improved experience,” says Downs. Introducing AI into the customer journey is a great strategy for boosting CSAT scores — and there’s nothing artificial about that.

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