By Parikshit Kalra, Senior Vice President of Solutions and Capabilities at HGS Earlier this year, HGS released a white paper on this year’s top 10 trends in customer service. Over the course of the past year, we’ve dedicated a blog post to each of these CX game changers. Here we dissect CX Trend No.9: AI, Machine Learning, and Automation, highlighting strategies designed to drive the right answer, fast, for your customers—to ultimately result in a higher CSAT and NPS score for your business. In 2017, we saw a collaboration between man and machine to deliver the next generation of customer experience. We’ll increasingly see that robots are starting to do most of the heavy lifting, such as helping customer service teams find the right answer fast, while human agents oversee the process and become the final editor of responses to the customer. “Artificial Intelligence or AI” according to Merriman-Webster, is “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” The customer service industry is burdened by costly, high labor attrition due to the mundane, repetitive tasks some contact center agents are faced with on a daily basis. Enter AI and machine learning technology, which can help overcome this challenge. For example, in 2016, Salesforce unveiled its new AI and machine learning engine, “Salesforce Einstein.” Einstein learns from all your data – CRM data, email, calendar, social, ERP, and IoT – and delivers predictions and recommendations in the context of what you’re trying to do – even automation of tasks. For customer service, Einstein can be employed to proactively resolve cases, make smarter decisions, and focus more attention on customers. Another example is IBM’s Watson, which will analyze consumer habits and patterns and provide proactive customer support by anticipating problems before they arise, mitigating the need for reactive human assistance. In 2016, many software-as-a-service providers in the customer service space have formed partnerships with IBM to deploy Watson inside their solutions to make their products more intelligent, and more powerful. Be prepared to see more technology vendors rolling out products that are backed by AI solutions to make our agents’ work easier, more intelligent, and more proactive. A strategic “bots-brains” approach employs robotic process automation (RPA) as a cognitive solution to create optimized CX, intelligently integrating people at key moments of truth. This strategy enables self-service, analytics, process improvements, error reduction, speed, and cost-transformation. According to McKinsey, machine learning attracted 60% of the investment made in AI in 2016. The right integration of human agents with bots can drive cost optimization, improve operational agility, capture new revenue streams, and transform customer experience. Today’s BPO service providers provide a unified customer engagement strategy and customize targeted deployment of these solutions—seamlessly bridging any bot-brain gaps and driving real outcomes.