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Summary

Artificial intelligence (AI) holds the key to a promising era: one in which machines, working in tandem with humans, will spark a new wave of innovation and create meaningful interactions.

AI is playing a vital role in a wide variety of companies and lines of business and is already revolutionizing many industries. From pharmaceutical companies that are applying AI to uncover new drug therapies to financial services firms using AI to thwart data breaches, AI's role and benefits are proving to be abundant.

One enterprise function that will see sizeable investment in the near term is customer service because of the availability of abundant amounts of historical customer data. Deploying AI-powered bots, or intelligent agents, to improve the customer experience is an optimal way to meet customer expectations while reducing costs. However, the deployment of AI isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Even so, enterprises that follow these five overarching themes when deploying AI into their customer service organizations should successfully meet customer and employee expectations.

Five ways to ensure AI's success

With AI, poor deployment can lead to poor results. Those involved in creating a plan must ensure that AI-powered bots work to build trust with customers and not destroy it. To ensure AI's continued success, enterprises must adhere to these steps:

Understand users' intent to best support their needs.

The more conversations your virtual assistant has, the smarter it will get, and the easier it will be to decide changes to improve accuracy, reduce handle time for the customer, or tailor messaging to boost customer satisfaction.

Build from customer conversations, not FAQs.

AI deployed in service environments should be conversational – clarifying customers' questions and responding to specific queries. That means AI shouldn't simply analyze words from a structured database, but rather should analyze customer transcripts from emails, calls, and chats to better detect human behavior and analyze emotions.

Provide the ability to escalate to an agent.

AI is meant to complement human interaction, not replace it. To avoid customer defection, enterprises must ensure that customers can easily transfer or escalate to an agent when they need to.

Enable conversations across platforms.

A critical factor in delivering great customer service is the ability of customers to contact a company any way they want and through their preferred channels. With the proliferation of conversational platforms, a bot needs to be conversant across multiple channels and connect where customers are at any moment in their journeys.

Educate employees about AI's benefits.

Finally, enterprises wishing to deploy AI with little to no rejection from employees should work to shape the concept of AI in a way that quells the current public negative perception of the technology. Help employees understand the purpose of the technology as removing repetitive or boring tasks and replacing them with more valuable, revenue-building assignments.

Taking a thoughtful and strategic approach to AI deployment means consumers will get quick answers to their queries and spend less time and hassle searching for responses on companies' websites and calling their contact centers. It also means brands will have the necessary context to provide intelligent and tailored interactions that consumers have come to expect from them.

Appendix

Further reading

"Artificial intelligence plays a role in evolving knowledge management," IT0020-000271 (April 2017)

Author

Mila D'Antonio, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

mila.dantonio@ovum.com

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