Businesses are frequently told that artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that will empower, rather than eliminate, human connections. Many have lauded AI’s ability to analyse vast volumes of data from multiple sources to help organisations personalise customer interactions and experiences.
However, research shows that many customers believe AI-powered experiences are robotic and impersonal – just 13 per cent consider these experiences highly personalised, only 14 per cent think brands can accurately anticipate why they are getting in touch, and merely 16 per cent feel interactions are sufficiently conversational.
Modern AI solutions have the capabilities to empower brands to proactively deliver efficient, relevant, personalised and engaging experiences for customers, but only if they are implemented correctly. To do this, businesses must focus on delivering customer experiences that are HUMAN: heartfelt, unified, measurable, actionable, and natural.
Heartfelt: Empathy is the cornerstone of a customer-centric experience. If a brand cannot understand the reasons behind customers’ enquiries and the sentiments they express, it will be unable to deliver the desired resolution or a heartfelt, engaging experience.
Agents should focus on what matters to the customer and let the contextual information – not a generic script – set the tone for each interaction. Often, customers want a fast answer to a simple question and in these cases, the empathetic option is to respect their time by providing an effortless pathway to a resolution. However, customers dealing with complex matters may require deeper support, so it is imperative that brands empower employees to ‘ditch the script’ and engage in an honest and meaningful conversation in these instances.
Unified: Human customer experiences are not disparate sets of individual transactions and moments; they are unified journeys consisting of cohesive dialogue. Successful human-centric brands ensure data moves with customers as they switch seamlessly between channels, enabling them to consistently recognise the customer – and where they are in the journey – at each touch point. This allows customers to instantly resume a specific conversation without having to repeat themselves or answer generic qualification questions.
Measurable: Human experiences may be individualised and emotional, but they are also highly measurable. To ensure experiences are sufficiently quantifiable, businesses must identify the most contextually important outcome of each interaction. For a customer complaining about a poor experience, the optimal outcome may be to defuse the anger and prevent churn, but if a consumer asks a pre-purchase question, the aim will be to secure the sale.
Brands can analyse key moments of the interaction to assess how specific actions directly impacted customer sentiment and behaviour, and thereby determine whether an agent contributed positively or negatively to that goal.
Actionable: Every interaction with a customer presents an opportunity to learn who they are, how they communicate and behave, what issues they want to resolve, and how they feel about the experience. Generative AI solutions can create content, customise messages and provide self-service options based on the unique needs and behaviours of individual customers. They can also empower agents to anticipate and proactively address changes in customer sentiment to deliver a more personalised experience every time.
Natural: Whether they are engaging with an AI-powered bot or a live agent, consumers are seeking natural conversations. In a self-service environment, they want to be able to articulate their issue in their own words and receive a resolution that makes sense to them. Meanwhile in an agent-led environment, they expect to interact with people who have real personalities and can understand the nuances of a given issue. They do not want to speak with an agent who simply regurgitates corporate policies and knowledge entries, offering no value beyond a static FAQ page.
Introducing Aviator to make HUMAN experiences a reality
Anywhere365 will soon be launching Aviator, a new AI capabilities suite to empower brands that want to deliver personalised, empathetic customer experiences while dealing with surging dialogue volumes and growing cost scrutiny. Aviator will enable users to predict customers’ needs and the context of their conversations, while eliminating siloed communications and customer data. This will boost natural conversation without risking efficiency or compliance and will unlock actionable intelligence to anticipate customer needs and deliver frictionless, innovative experiences on both ends of the line, in at least five different ways.
1. Assist agents with actionable intelligence and contextual information.
Effective agent assist solutions use AI to surface highly relevant, contextual information based on specific data about customers, their past interactions, their issue and the current conversation. This allows agents to focus on listening to the customer rather than searching for information, and deliver helpful, personalised responses.
The most effective solutions integrate directly with existing systems, workflows and contact centre platforms, routing customers to the best available agent and arming them with all the information they need to humanise the interaction. This leads to a stronger human connection between the brand, its employees and its customers.
2. Deliver empathy at scale.
Agents must fulfil four requirements to deliver genuinely empathetic customer interactions at scale. First, they need to be able to understand what customers want to achieve, what they value and how they feel about the experience they are receiving. Second, they should be able to devote ample time to analyse and act on this knowledge. Third, the agent must be free to shape the conversation based on that understanding, even if this means veering away from a script or policy. Finally, they have to be able to deliver empathy efficiently.
AI-driven chatbots capture vital contextual information from conversations and absorb simple enquiries, helping agents to recognise the customer’s challenge and use that understanding to improve the conversation. Meanwhile, both AI-powered agent assist tools and quality management solutions enable agents to adapt to specific customer needs without worrying about overlooking key processes, sharing inaccurate information or violating compliance protocol. In addition, AI analytics tools capture and surface actionable insights about each customer, enabling brands and agents to deliver empathy in a more immediate, efficient manner.
3. Unlock comprehensive real-time intelligence.
Customer experiences are inherently unpredictable. For example, customers might react in an unexpectedly heated way, while agents may face issues such as intense surges in call volumes, sudden technical support issues, unforeseen questions, and more.
To deliver HUMAN experiences, businesses must be able to anticipate – or at least recognise – and adapt to this real-time variance. Agents must be able to shift the tone of a conversation to keep customers happy, supervisors should be able to determine when an agent is overworked or unprepared, and leaders need to know when and where to reallocate their staff.
Conversational AI analytics solutions can uncover and surface this real-time intelligence, ensuring brands and employees make fast, well-informed decisions.
4. Emphasise employee happiness.
Research from CCW Digital found that 95 per cent of consumers are more likely to support a brand after interacting with a friendly agent. The statistic offers an important reminder: the best agents are not simply knowledgeable, they are also warm, happy and engaging.
Unfortunately, contact centres are more infamous for driving disengagement and attrition than they are for cultivating happiness. More than two-thirds of these platforms force agents to spend too much time on low-value work, such as answering repetitive questions or looking up basic knowledge – and most agents have to access at least four systems in a typical day.
By improving agents’ access to customer data and company knowledge, AI helps organisations to eliminate these sources of undue effort. Chatbots and process automation solutions reduce repetitive work, further enabling agents to spend time on the higher-value, more rewarding parts of their job.
AI can also assist with real-time training, providing agents with enriching personal development and ensuring they are consistently able to answer customer questions. Furthermore, brands can leverage AI analytics solutions to assess employee sentiment and flag potential frustration and disengagement risks before they trickle down to customer interactions.
5. Improved post-interaction summaries and intelligence.
Every customer interaction represents an opportunity to learn and improve. Capable of understanding natural language and creating useful content, generative AI tools can accurately summarise, analyse and classify key notes and takeaways from calls. This is instrumental for helping businesses identify opportunities for large-scale customer experience improvements and building accurate profiles for individuals.
As they generate this effective post-interaction intelligence, the AI solutions free up employees from monotonous work and instead allow them to engage in meaningful conversations with customers and remain friendly, supportive and empowered while doing so.
Hans Kramer is global head of marketing at Anywhere365
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2023 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription