Workforce Management Helps Blend Human and AI Resources
As companies adjust to omnichannel customer support infrastructures to better serve their customers from anywhere at any time and via any channel the customer chooses, the idea of workforce management is becoming far more complex than it was before. Customer support has transcended the telephone and retail store aisle and reached into social media, mobile apps, websites and chat walls and self-service technologies rooted in the data center. Managing the workforce now means managing a host of customer support entities both human and cyber.
According to a recent article by Andrew Tonner writing for Fox Business, Gartner (News - Alert) has predicted that artificial-intelligence-drive (AI) bots will power 85 percent of all customer service interactions by the year 2020.
“Given Facebook (News - Alert) and other messaging platforms have already seen significant adoption of customer service bots on their chat apps, this shouldn't necessarily come as a huge surprise,” wrote Tonner. “Since this use of AI can help reduce wait times for many types of interactions, this trend sounds like a win for businesses and customers alike.”
These digital customer assistants will be able to “learn” and “know” customers better so they can customize the experience for everyone who calls, texts, initiates a chat, dials into an IVR or launches a Web page. They’ll be able to mine customer history, voice or text “tone,” frequency of contacts, usual menu choices selected and many other data points to help guess why the customer is reaching out, and what that customer is looking for.
“Digital assistants will know and interact with you like a friend does today, or at least they'll try to,” wrote Tonner.
“Try to” is the important point here. While AI-driven customer support resources will be able to handle a lot of customers’ most basic needs, there will always be issues that require the human touch: so don’t fire your contact center staff quite yet. In many cases, digital interactions will need to be assisted or driven by humans who can “push” relevant material to customers once they’ve used their human brains to ascertain what’s behind more complicated customer needs.
None of this AI technology will eliminate the need to employ and manage humans in customer support roles, but it may change the way they should be managed. If your AI capabilities are taking place primarily via chat, for instance, what happens when a customer runs into a wall with the bot? He or she will need to have the option to escalate to a human, who is then expected to have the whole context of the interaction previous to the AI’s “call for help.”
Automated systems are unlikely to be able to handle very complex queries…at least, not anytime in the near future. For this reason, it’s wise to blend AI with human judgement to make the perfect climate for emotional intelligence when handling customer interactions. To ensure that enough humans are available, however, workforce management solutions will be necessary to ensure the right people are in the right place at the right time.
Edited by Alicia Young