By Piyush Kumar, HGS Assistant Vice President, Business Transformation
It’s a well-known fact, that your customers are in control of your satisfaction rating, your brand reputation, and, ultimately, your success. And it’s a brave new world, in terms of rapidly advancing tools that perform at those key moments of truth and provide opportunities to win over customers. Take, for example, a customer complaint. Without the requisite skill or empathy, agents (human or virtual) attempting to troubleshoot may have, in the past, done more harm than good. But now there are tools to intervene, easily comprehend a caller’s emotional state, share this state with the agent, and suggest better approaches to turn the customer around with a positive impression and satisfying result. And those innovations, powered by artificial intelligence and cognitive applications, are making a dramatic difference on the front lines of customer service.
These cognitive solutions can provide a better customer experience and also support a more robust, faster, and smoother business transformation. This new breed of cognitive- and analytics-powered solutions work together in the front office to:
- Understand the context of a customer interaction or transaction: A virtual agent powered by machine learning algorithms that engages customers in conversation is a new mandate for all organizations. Supported by today’s cognitive tools and analytics, the customer experience is more and more akin to talking to a live agent. Bots can employ natural language processing (NLP) for more colloquial verbiage and appropriate tone, recognition and understanding, to increasingly replicate a human interaction. Culture and customization can be applied to mimic character and persona of human agents. And, with their ability to process language, chatbots are able to handle tedious, assistant-like tasks such as form filling and appointment scheduling. Most organizations are aiming to launch a successful chatbot to resolve customer inquiries 90% of the time. However, this takes time, investment, and expertise. Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs) bring the requisite experience and best practices to strategize and customize the right solution for the business, brand, and customer.
- Build a hypothesis: Cognitive solutions can build hypotheses by identifying patterns in data. Imagine the productivity of a conversation with a customer service representative who is ready with predicted reasons for next customer contact. Predictive analytics can empower agents with these insights. Contact reasons could be a customer inquiry related to the last bill or a customer complaint regarding an outlier from the last transaction, or a service disruption. With this knowledge of potential issues, agents can be better prepared with solutions and identify transaction or call history, pre contact. The service representative can be prepared with clarifications/explanations/resolution options that can be shared with the customer. It could also be applicable to predicting the potential source of these interactions:
- An insurance plan member inquiring about the status of a claim
- A telecom customer calling with a complaint about a billing issue or network problem
- A bank customer interested in making a new investment in equity or gold or other financial instruments
- Perhaps, most importantly, learn: Cognitive solutions can be trained, retrained, and supplemented by self-learning ability. These systems employ data mining, pattern recognition, and NLP to mimic the way the human brain works. And they leverage a combination of structured and unstructured data for optimized efficiency and results. Feedback from the right stakeholders work as one of the critical inputs for system learning and improvement. Take, for example, banking, where cognitive tools are revolutionizing service. Today’s cognitive tools can take in and assess historical and current performance data, research, and ratings to make a recommendation that drives the optimal financial outcome for a customer. Customer response to the recommendation can be used by the system to refine future recommendations.
This CSAT success is what all cognitive tools build to—an outcome that is perhaps more front-and-center than the operational and workflow reengineering that drive significant cost-containment. In fact, customer acquisition and retention are areas where cognitive and analytics solutions are displacing conventional analytics to provide superior client experiences.
On the front line of all these higher-minded tools and innovation, BPOs can co-create the right and complementary suite of solutions. While the “human vs. bot” debate will go on and on, businesses can employ advancements to proactively prepare for tomorrow’s higher bar for optimized customer experience.