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  • Is AI Really The Answer?

    Earlier this week we shared some of the pitfalls of implementing  self-service and highlighted the importance of strategic and empathetic implementation.  AI (artificial intelligence) is one of the self-service tools in the customer service professional toolbox today. It is also one of the new buzzwords, together with blockchain (for the curious ones  – my favorite explanations of blockchain are this video and this article).

    The primary current positioning of AI is in call centers. The value proposition is that with AI, companies will empower customer service employees to make better decisions/recommendations, thus increasing employee engagement. Additionally, through AI, organizations will achieve significant ROI by automating the role of the customer agent (in JetBlue’s case, the crewmember) and scaling customer support without incremental headcount.

    So what exactly is AI? Do you really understand what this technology can and cannot do? If you do not, keep reading as all working professionals today should understand at least the basics of AI. If you are like me, you probably get 100 sales emails every week telling you that you are running late and must leverage AI in your call centers. But do you really need AI? What problem do YOU need to solve? And is AI the best way to do that for your company?

    Last month I was invited by Execs In the Know to join their AI Advisory Committee with the below mandate:

    “The final group output will come in the form of a report. The exact nature of the report will be determined and framed by the group, but may include areas such as:

    • A summary of ways AI is enhancing CX channels
    • Best practices on where and how to start
    • Trends and technology in AI to improve service
    • ROI of current AI customer service initiatives
    • Perspectives and predictions about the future of AI and customer service”

    This is no small mandate and it is encouraging that we have a group of professionals who are examining these questions before we all get ahead of ourselves with AI and compromise the ROI we all want so much.

    The most common use of AI is ML (machine learning).  Basically, this is data mining and predictive learning on steroids that enables a computer to make decisions and interact with a human. With that basic understanding I already have a few questions to all the companies that are calling, emailing, inmailing etc., to offer me AI enabled solutions. Who, or rather what, is enabling those solutions? Is it my company’s data? Because if it is, I have a lot more work to do internally before I respond to those sales pieces.

    Erik Brynjolfsson and  Andrew Mcafee provide a comprehensive explanation of what AI is and what it is not in their publication The Business of Artificial Intelligence. In it they state that AI technology is ready for implementation in the business world and that “[t]he bottleneck now is in management, implementation, and business imagination.” I do have the business imagination, but I also am taking my time to know exactly what capability I am buying with AI. It might be cheaper to streamline processes and fix existing software tools or integrations to enable my employees to deliver excellent customer service, instead of paying for yet another software integration that makes decisions based on my bad data (since I would have prioritized the purchase of the expensive AI solution over cleaning my existing data).

    Although it is clear that AI will be a solution that needs demonstrated ROI and employee adoption for success while it is learning, it is also clear that we cannot wait too long to get comfortable with this new technology. As Erik and Andrew say, one thing is pretty sure: “[o]ver the next decade, AI won’t replace managers, but managers who use AI will replace those who don’t”.

    That is the exact reason I chose to join the AI Advisory Committee. 

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    Culture and Access to Information

    By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet.  It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.

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    Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments

    Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. No Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.

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    How a Personal Interaction builds Customer Loyalty

    A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).

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    3 THOUGHTS ON "Is AI Really The Answer?"

    1. How Smart do Humans Want AI to Get? – DoingCXRight 01/09/2018 at 8:28 am

      […] doingcxright.com Last month we covered the basics of AI and what it is in theory. Today we will talk more about the existing practical applications of AI […]

    2. Why I Don’t Love Chat Bots – DoingCXRight 02/16/2018 at 11:29 pm

      […] you will also hear that the bots just stupid. So how can chat bots become smarter? We are back to the data conversation. Chat bots are as smart as the power and scope of the underlying data they can pull/learn from. In […]

    3. How to Prepare for AI: Dispatches from CR Summit, Charleston – DoingCXRight 03/13/2018 at 7:29 am

      […] customer experience leaders from various industries held the first AI Committee meeting. AI is a challenging topic to cover since it has varied customer experience applications depending on a brand’s growth […]

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