Digital disruption has already revolutionized industries across the globe, and the CX industry is no exception. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been an area of increasing investment, with the AI market poised to grow to $40 billion by 2022, according to Market Research Store. During our August 17 webinar, “Reinventing the Customer Service Model using Bots&Brains™,” HGS VP of Solutions and Capabilities, Lauren Kindzierski shed light on how the right combination of brains and bots (automation and artificial intelligence) can help customer-focused businesses meet heightened expectations for service in this increasingly digital landscape. At this session, she guided attendees on:
- AI’s evolving role in optimized CX
- Three ways to operationalize bots and brains
- Benefits of a bots-brains approach
At this HGS session, we polled attendees on several issues related to adoption of a successful bots-brains strategy. We started with the question on everyone’s mind, “Can robots replace agents?” A clear majority of our attendees—74%, answered a resounding “Yes,” to this query. With these results, Lauren elaborated on how brains and human support (via trainers, solutions architects, analysts, and other roles) are essential to coordinate with these bots, in order to build optimized experiences.
Our HGS Poll 2, “How soon will you implement robots in your CX strategy?” got to the very heart of why this webinar was so popular—as 43% of our attendees responded with “Want to learn more, undecided.” In terms of the remainder of respondents, 26% are “Already implementing” and 30% have their strategy started and are planning to implement bots in the next year.
HGS Poll 3, “Do you have a dedicated data analyst?,”shed light on this role’s increasing popularity surge among corporations, as 50% have already hired this position, with 21% focused on digital and automation combined, and 50% stating “Wish I did.”
After a review of the vast benefits of a bots-brains approach—including improved average handle time (AHT) and response time, lessening of Tier I labor, and improved CSAT, Lauren took on pressing questions from our attendees.
Q1: Do any of your clients have more digital interaction than voice today?
Lauren: Great question! Yes, we are finally nearing the tipping point. One of our clients, a client in the UK, leverages messaging such as WhatsApp, as well as chat, social, and email. This client is seeing that 70% of interactions are digital and only 30% are phone calls. Not all clients have deployed digital channels, some still offer phone and email. But those that have deployed them are starting to see those digital channels increase every single year.
Q2: What would you suggest as the first step in integrating bots into our customer service strategy?
Lauren: Step number one always should be, analyze your top contact drivers. We can take all the top contact drivers coming into the contact center, as well as historical transcripts, whether they are chat, social media posts, and text message transcripts. We apply text analytics to them and then we apply four levels of assessment to it. It really helps us to uncover why people are reaching out to us. Then we get to how a bot can help address a particular question, inquiry, suggestion, or customer complaint. Then comes the question of whether we enable a bot and a customer care representative? Once you know that, you take your bot script writers and your bot trainers, and you start building these experiences. And at the end of the day, once these experiences are up and running within your digital channel, you need to make sure that they are doing what they set out to do. That’s when your data analyst/ data scientist comes into play. These team members look at real-time dashboards on a daily basis and continuously optimize AI models and the machine learning technology. They may then design the experience differently.
Q3: Do you have an example of a company that’s reducing headcount as a result of bots?
Lauren: Yes, we do. It’s already starting to happen. I was speaking at a conference, and I asked VPs of customer service or chief customer officers if any of them had deployed bot technology. I asked if they have seen a reduction in headcount, because we at HGS have seen this. Hands went up and one of the audience members commented that her team of 200, with bots, is now down to a team of 40 because of bot technology. And the team that’s left becomes the higher caliber agents who are answering the more complex enquiries or enquiries that require higher empathy. Maybe those left for your team of 40 are dedicated to your most loyal customers who are spending more. That’s the beautiful thing about bots. You can authenticate customers, too. It’s not just a matter of decreasing headcount, it also means making customer experiences more effortless and engaging.
We all have budgets, at the end of the day. So how do we stay within that customer service budget, but still provide that amazing customer service experience? Bots help us do this.
Q4: Can you please elaborate on the self-learning aspects of these bots? You discussed that they tag the questions. How do they do that? What goes in behind that?
Lauren: There are hundreds of AI and chatbot companies out there. There are different kinds of vendors with different kind of UIs and experiences. HGS partnered with one of the best AI providers in the industry. It’s key to understand that different vendors with different kinds of technologies and platforms have different ways of doing it. For example, maybe some of you already have an FAQ knowledge base that’s started today, but it’s important to continuously optimize that, because there are new questions coming in all the time. You can employ a bot trainer to feed questions into the system, and what the machine learning does is cluster those responses. The resulting statistical modeling starts building those confidence intervals. The bot is, say, 97% confident that this is the right answer to this question because of the trainer who’s working behind the scenes. With brains and bots working together, the process becomes smarter and smarter.