Infosys experts share their views on how digital is significantly impacting enterprises and consumers by redefining experiences, simplifying processes and pushing collaborative innovation to new levels

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Service Agents to Knowledge Brokers to BOTs?

Traditionally, the objective of setting up a call center was to service the customer (provide information on Products, services and related support) over a remote channel. The complexity of the business processes got compounded by limited knowledge, limited resources to train and skill call center agents and limited decision making capabilities leading to large unresolved cases and Zero Customer Focus!

The Result - An Irritated Customer!

 Today the prime focus is our Customers and their overall experience

So what's the picture of our Customers today? A single device that is kept in their pockets reviews products, checks prices, shares purchases, requests coupons - and sometimes purchase products from one retailer's online channel while standing in a competitor's store!

Hence, the present Customer Service Agent services a Customer who is:

  •          Performing Around-the-clock-shopping
  •          Completely in control of their shopping experience
  •         Has visibility to Omni channel shopping
  •          A Content Customer
  •          Having a global experience
  •         A Collaborator
  •          Active on Social networking

The above requires different capability of Service Agents who understands customers need, anticipates their problems, resolve complaints quickly and courteously, and develop new, innovative services that fit into their busy lifestyles.

Hence the Customer Service Agent needs to solutionize by managing:

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Considering the above, today's call center is unlikely to be a central physical center. With cloud technologies ruling the roost, there would be a rise in remote call center agents.

Does this mean the traditional brick and mortar call center will vanish...Perhaps No...

Instead they would become Powerful Relationship Hubs where services would begin with adapted customer needs, leading to proactively telling the customers about the steps to be embraced, thus driving the very core of business strategy.

How can this be achieved?

-          Backed with information and intelligent thinking - Helping business development, sales and marketing with information around repeat purchasers, advocate essential data analytical points for product management and development.

-          Adapt to changes in technology - From utilizing the increasing range of data on their CRM system, to becoming experts in apps and social networks.

-          Become "Super Agents "or "Enterprise Knowledge Brokers" - Skill sets adapted to meet the demands of the future customer. Handle increasingly complex issues for digitally enabled and capable autonomous customers who resolve many complex issues themselves.

-          For this, the popular solution of today speaks about the much debated concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that has jumped out of 3D fiction movies and is ready to help perform the delta need that has come up today. AI with the help of Chat Bots will become the crux of self-help and resolve all of the repeatable standard queries and breakdowns with only the most complex problems ending up in a call center. This in turn would give the Customer the experience that is required

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So will AI replace Customer Service Agents?

AI has proved its capability to bring faster results and resolution performing large data analytical tasks which was impossible for humans to do in accepted timelines (machine learning). Thus all of what a customer agent can do is done with accuracy, efficiency.

But will all consumers like the AI's service? Not necessarily.

Has 'Poor Customer Service' problem vanished with AI? No.

There is still an overwhelming need to get it right, which is why companies are willing to invest in customer service technology and training. As much as technology is developed to aid in customer service, sometimes in the short term it can complicate things.

The interesting league of AI development where the real Next Gen AI surpasses the previous assuring borderline of "can AI read human emotions and non-pattern behaviors" can bring in the real cause of concern to the future of Customer Service Agents! Examples in reality include:

·         IPSoft who uses AI that has a level of emotional intelligence to be able to adapt according to how the customer interacts. The response is linked to whether the customer is angry or frustrated, with the objective of being able to show empathy.

·         Inbenta is another example where AI is focused on developing natural language. In other words, on understanding the meaning behind what someone is asking and not just looking at the words used, using context and natural language processing.

Conclusion

Does the future mean the impression of the human touch (Agents/Brokers) -- whether in everyday life or customer service -- won't be as valuable as it has been in the past?

The definition of Agents/Brokers will change. They will be the key to creating the most important intangible in the industry - Customer Experience (A customers' perception will affect their behaviors build memories and feelings and drive their loyalty) - The key brand differentiator by 2020!

Hence we need to know our Customers very well to create and deliver personalized experiences that will entice their loyalty. But gaining this in-depth knowledge about customers isn't something that just happens. It's about collecting a lot of customers' data, analyzing feedback and bringing out valuable insights from that data with speed and precision (which the machine and AI can ace!). So, at the crux of the machine and AI will sit the Knowledge Brokers/Super agents who would build the logical skeleton of intelligence to collate, analyze and bring out the required customer experience!


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