Persisting economic challenges force businesses to brace for slower growth and adapt to investor demands for sustainable cost management by trimming expenses. With the prospect of a prolonged slump, retaining customers has become an even greater priority, compounded by rising consumer expectations.
To address customer service and support, companies are increasingly turning to AI and automation, which offer dual benefits of cost reduction and improved customer experience. In fact, a Talkdesk report shows that 75% of CX leaders are adopting AI tools to improve customer support and overall experience.
CX leaders know the future of customer service hinges on AI-driven self-service tools that simplify customer experiences. However, as more firms embrace these technologies to lower operational costs, the unintended consequence is often a diminished customer experience. Many companies are missing the mark with their deployments and delivering poor experiences by either using older technologies or through inadequate conversational design.
AI agents help answer simple questions to alleviate some of the presser off customer service agents. Still, AI agents cannot replace the conversations that are held between customers and human agents. And customers know that, too.
Most consumers actually prefer managing customer service situations through live phone conversations or live chat. They find AI channels are not as effective as speaking directly with a live agent. In fact, the report finds human agents are almost three times more likely to resolve an issue on first contact as compared to an AI system.
Companies and CX teams, don’t sweat over this too much, though. Consumers are willing to try again with AI agents only if companies improve efficacy. After all, there’s no stopping the advancement of AI tools, as they are to play a big role in customer service processes. But as Charanya Kannan, Chief Product, Engineering and Customer officer at Talkdesk, says, companies need to change their approach in the design of these solutions.
“As today’s economy drives labor and skills shortages that hinder CX, it’s more important than ever that companies not only invest in automated tools but design these solutions in a way that truly simplifies and streamlines customer experiences – therefore mitigating frustration and driving loyalty,” said Kannan.
So, what does Kannan actually mean by that?
Simply put, there are steps CX teams can take to realize AI’s potential.
The first step is to optimize new AI tools with good conversational design. Pair a virtual agent with an interaction analytics solution that can help analyze the underlying intents across all interactions and determine what the most critical points of friction are across the customer journey. Conversational design is important for creating a virtual agent that is engaging, helpful and easy to use.
The second is to implement a fallback mechanism in virtual agents, as it is critical for handling novel input that the virtual agent doesn’t (or can’t) understand.
The third step is to provide a way for customers to opt-out and connect with a human agent. This will remove a key point of friction for customers, as well as provide human agents with the context they need to resolve inquiries that couldn’t be contained through self-service more quickly and effectively.
The fourth step is to continuously improve virtual agents through testing and training. This ongoing process helps ensure that the virtual agent is always equipped to handle changes to the business, customer inquiry trends and the language or vernacular that customers use over time.
Finally, reimagining virtual agents with GPT and large language models (LLMs). GPTs can provide intent detection, entity extraction, sentiment analysis, redaction, summarization and classification— functions that are critical to customer service use cases. It will soon enable virtual agents to have increasingly complex, human-sounding conversations with customers, while also making them less expensive to implement, maintain and improve over time.
Companies that follow these steps to realize AI’s potential within the customer experience are more likely to succeed in the long term, while those that neglect them may risk alienating their customers and losing ground to competitors.
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