Thought Leadership

Artificial Intelligence invades Customer Experience

Imagine having to call your favorite retailer about the status of an order you placed 3 days ago that hasn’t arrived yet. Or better yet, anticipating the potentially long call wait time and feeling your Internet savvy quotient is high enough, you head back to their website to engage via their Chat service.

You go to the help area and choose the “Orders, Shipping & Tracking” topic and then fill out your name, email, phone number, and issue summary. And then the queue pops up… “You’ll be connected to an agent shortly. The average wait time is 35 seconds.” 35 seconds goes by, 2 minutes goes by, 7 minutes go by. You disconnect, frustrated, thinking I just want to talk with someone about my out of stock cancellation birthday order for my daughter.

You’re not alone. In fact, 88% of the people surveyed recently by the Consumer Reports National Research Center had done so in the past year—to question a bill, request a repair, return ill-fitting merchandise, and more. And many of them didn’t like the experience and had a problem with customer service. 57% were so steamed that they hung up the phone without a resolution. Amongst the Millennials group that is coming of age, 1 out of 3 are only willing to wait 1 to 3 minutes to get a response. And 56% have switched from one company to another because of underwhelming customer service. This is the backdrop of a disenchanted base of growing spending looking for a different experience. And customer service is a battleground for competing companies.

According to Gartner research, 89% of businesses will compete mainly on customer experience. A recent poll of over 2,000 U.S. adults by Harris found that 70% said they would be willing to pay more for a brand with a good customer service reputation. Even more of them, 86%, said they would very likely switch brands after a bad customer service experience.”

Now imagine the same scenario where you reach out by chat or (gasp) the phone and within 10 seconds are chatting or talking with what appears to be a Customer Service Agent, that instead of a choppy, machine evident interaction providing a conversational experience that addresses not only some basic questions, but can provide answers to more complex questions about your specific order and can take action to resolve issues like cancelling your order or changing the shipping location or taking a payment.

Technological advancements in Artificial Intelligence Learning space are making this above scenario possible and it’s rolling out to a Customer Service area near you across an breadth of different industries (B2C Banking, Retail, Telecommunications, Consumer Products firms). IBM’s Watson AI Conversational Use Case is providing a better human engagement experience beyond a basic Natural Language return of an internet term search. It’s taking a higher view of intent interaction. For example, if you’re asking, “Show me all NON-red haired dolls” to the most popular human interaction tools, you’ll typically get an answer like “I don’t know” or no response at all.

With Watson AI tools, the interactions become learning opportunities to personalize the interactions, bringing the customer to the forefront of the interaction and also leading to upsell/cross opportunities for the company as well.

Understanding true intent is a foundational thought to expanding the use of Augmented Intelligence in the Customer Service arena. And not only customers, but companies employing call centers will be the prime beneficiaries. Customers will experience shorter wait times and a more productive interactive experience for more complex questioning. Companies will see improved customer service metrics and cost reductions as the deployed technology deflects calls from higher priced live agents using chat/voice while addressing economies of scale during peak holiday and global time zone interactions.

In the coming months and years, the next interaction you have via chat and phone with a customer service group might just be IBM Watson coupled with an Oracle Customer Experience application like Service Cloud or Siebel Service.

Visit our website to start your journey to improve your customer service and reduce operating costs.

For more information, check out IBM booth 1107 at Oracle OpenWorld 2017. We’ll also have several sessions discussing our Watson AI Chat Solution at the same Oracle OpenWorld Booth. Hope to see you there!

Sales Leader, Oracle Cloud and Cognitive Innovation

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