Sentient Machines were interviewed, along with IBM, Barclays and O2, for a recent report on Artificial Intelligence and its role in customer service. The research report, compiled by The Institute of Public Service, explores both how AI is being used at present, and also looks towards its future potential. Questions are asked about how companies are currently deploying AI in customer service, how customers use AI and their attitude towards it, the attitudes of employees towards the use of AI, and finally steps that businesses should take to fully utilise AI to improve customer experience.
How are companies using AI?
It is claimed that around a third of organisations surveyed in the UK are currently making extensive use of AI, and that we are at the exciting stage of ‘test and learn’ with our endeavours. This means that organisations begin using a relatively narrow set of applications to research and then pioneer new systems. It is apparent that companies generally utilise AI in the following:
analytics to enable business decision-making
analytics to empower employees
direct customer interactions
new ways of experiencing products and services.
The benefits of using AI for these purposes are numerous. For example, systems for process automation and direct customer interactions both increase efficiency and cut time and costs. At the same time, detailed analytics can aid business development by providing feedback on performance and forecasting emerging trends and patterns, to name only two of the many advantages highlighted in the report.
At Sentient Machines, we have seen the powerful potential of analytics in aiding both decision-makers and employees to deliver improved customer service and productivity. As well as utilising bots to automate specific processes, we are seizing the opportunity to develop products centred around the capabilities of AI.
We believe that AI used to enhance human potential drives the greatest change.
How can businesses enable the deployment of AI in customer service?
There are approaches that organisations should take when adopting AI, which can help to enhance the business and ensure that new systems are accepted by employees and customers. Primarily, companies should develop a board-level awareness of AI, and determine the business opportunities that arise from its immediate adoption. Business leaders should trial AI with industry experts to determine the unique and increasing commercial benefits in terms of productivity, customer needs and QA. There are also ethical implications of using AI to consider.
AI can be used effectively to complement and empower employees, rather than just replace them. Automating simple processes and interactions means that employees are free to deal with more complex requests. They can receive a higher level of training and develop a larger skillset to help the company. They should be engaged in the process of implementing the new technology, and involved in the testing and even design stages so as to reassure customers who may have some reservations about the use of AI.
In this way, businesses adopting AI can ensure that they are open with their customers about how the technology is being used. They can even be engaged in the testing process, as, above all, communication from the business is paramount to retaining customer trust.
The report points to an interesting future for AI’s role in customer service. There are still varied attitudes towards using AI, with customers expressing that they are more open to its use in certain situations than others, and employees experiencing a “mix of fear and excitement” when faced with the capabilities of AI. It is almost imperative that businesses remain transparent to customers and employees about how and why AI will be used in the business, and to involve and engage employees in the ‘test and learn’ stages.
The report closes with the prediction that AI deployment in a customer experience context will be a key differentiator between businesses, undoubtedly providing benefits to various aspects of the organisation and processes. Sentient Analytics and Sentient Automate can be counted among products that can be deployed to facilitate business development, and used to guide decision making, training and increase efficiency.
If you want to learn more about how Sentient Machines can transform your customer service read here.