In the cognitive era, there will be no phone trees or on-hold music. There will be no language barriers or semantic errors. There will be no unanswerable questions or unsolvable problems. There will only be exceptional customer service, brought to you by cognitive businesses creating solutions that continuously learn and adapt to outthink the needs of the market.
That time, the cognitive era, is already here. It’s already a reality for hundreds of companies across multiple industries. Most people don’t realize it because businesses are just starting to utilize this technology to their competitive advantage. Eventually, every successful company will have this functionality built into their infrastructure, and those that don’t are likely to become irrelevant or fall behind their competition.
According to a recent Baseline report, just a 10% increase in data accessibility will result in more than $65 million additional net income for a typical Fortune 1000 company. While that stat is inspiring, it’s the business outcomes and use cases that generate the most excitement.
What can you do with Cognitive technology?
In short, Cognitive technologies can help multiple teams at companies improve performance and ROI. From a customer service perspective, cognitive technologies help businesses personalize, humanize and automate customer experiences by finding real-time insights in both structured AND unstructured data including social media posts, emails, audio recordings, documents, manuals and more. This formerly “dark” data—which lives in internal, external, cloud-based and even publicly-available sources—has rarely been utilized by companies, even though they collect and store large volumes of unstructured content on a regular basis. With cognitive computing, companies can find valuable insights and significant opportunities hidden in this data.
“Ten years ago, business leaders would walk down the hall to IT to ask for their support and assistance, but that same business leader today is empowered to work with systems that are available ubiquitously through the cloud, and with cognitive we open up the whole possibility of interacting in an intuitive and natural way.”
— Stephen Gold, CMO Watson Group, IBM
Calling all call centers
One customer-focused arena that has plenty to gain from this treasure-trove of unstructured information is the call center industry. The rise of cognitive technologies has helped improve call center customer service on a number of digital channels, including live chat, websites, social media and email; all of which are favored by the most sought-after target market, Millennials.
According to an Accenture survey, “While Millennials are already a potent force, they will truly come into their own by 2020, when we project their spending in the United States will grow to $1.4 trillion annually and represent 30 percent of total retail sales.” Millennials are even more demanding than the average customer, preferring self-service over speaking to a customer service rep and expecting—often demanding—a seamless, consistent and efficient experience. Without the help of prescriptive analytics, there’s no way call center operators will be able to keep up with this critical crop of consumers.
Another area of the customer service sector that’s being elevated by cognitive technologies is concierge services. Be it a premium credit card agent or a hotel desk clerk, concierges will have unprecedented insight into their customers’ likes and dislikes. With the customer’s permission (of course), cognitive analytical tools can peruse a client’s social media profiles, travel history, and spending habits to plan itineraries that are tailor-made for their budget and preferences.
But these hyper-analytical insights don’t have to be locked behind a computer screen. As holograms and robotics become more advanced, manufacturers will be able to install cognitive software into their CPUs, providing customers with an unprecedented service experience. In the time it takes a robot to identify you through facial recognition, they can have restaurant recommendations, directions and event tickets sitting in your inbox before you even reach the check-in desk.
Something for everyone on their cognitive path.
Drawing on cognitive intelligence for your business, your infrastructure or your applications is not a leap but a step. Practicing and employing the methods and mechanisms is within your reach right now. Take our assessment in just minutes to find your Watson, and get started on your road to becoming a cognitive, future-ready business.
(Follow the author on Twitter: @tripsy)