In recent years, we’ve witnessed a two-year decline in customer experience (CX) quality across various industries, according to Forrester. Analysts attribute this decline to competing internal priorities and the complexities of CX problems. To counter this trend, businesses are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) as a promising solution to transform customer service and deliver exceptional CX through their contact centers. In this blog, we will explore the history and significance of AI, its application in CX, and the benefits it brings to the contact center.
The Evolution of AI
The term “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) was first coined in 1956, as AI research emerged as an academic field and was primarily funded by the government. While the excitement about this new technology was apparent, progress was slow as real-world applications were limited. This led to several “AI winters” — or periods where funding, research and development, and overall interest became stagnant — over the next few decades.
However, machine learning soon diverged out on its own, becoming a dominant term in AI research, which has continued into its practical applications today. Technological advancements in computing power and data storage as well as the exponential growth of the internet paved the way for significant breakthroughs. Soon, deep learning, based on machine learning and deep neural networks, began to outperform traditional approaches to problems in areas like speech recognition and face recognition — helping to make these AI technologies more mainstream, reliable, and commercially viable. Today, AI primarily refers to computational transformations built by machine learning using deep neural networks.
Understanding Modern AI Applications
AI has found applications in many areas today, though with varying degrees of practicality and usefulness. Some of the more prominent applications include automatic speech recognition (ASR), recommendation engines, and generative AI technologies.
- ASR: ASR forms the basis of interactive voice response (IVR) systems as it’s able to interpret and react to spoken natural language seamlessly. This is used for capabilities like automated phone systems to provide menu options and route calls to the appropriate person — acting as the front gate of any contact center.
- Recommendation Engines: Machine learning also transcends AI speech applications and is the same technology behind recommendation engines, which are used to enhance user experiences by offering tailored suggestions on platforms like Netflix and Amazon.
- Generative AI: This up-and-coming technology can create content based on word prompts, offering exciting possibilities for creative content generation applications.
The Benefits of AI in Customer Service Transformation
Now, let’s turn our attention to the contact center and the use cases where AI can make a significant impact. The very same modeling techniques discussed previously are applied to support customer service AI applications to improve efficiency, drive revenue growth, and improve CX.
- Self Service: Self-service applications are powered by a machine learning engine, which is often called natural language processing (NLP), to offer convenient service features like a website or chatbot function to customers, independent of involvement from customer service employees. AI-driven self-service options extend a brand’s reach and enhance customer interaction.
- Agent Assistance: AI aids customer service agents in resolving complex or emotional interactions efficiently as well as onboarding effectively. It empowers agents with real-time cues and insights, enhancing the customer experience and optimizing cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
- Quality Management: AI automates call monitoring and evaluation, ensuring high-quality customer service and adhering to compliance and regulatory requirements. It adds objectivity, consistency and transparency to quality assessment.
- Executive Intelligence: AI provides real-time insights in customer trends to leaders, helping them make informed decisions, predict customer behavior, and improve operational efficiency.
The Risks of AI in Customer Service
As you can see, the benefits of AI in contact centers are limitless, but as with any technology, there are risks to consider, too. Organizations often implement AI with a lack of human oversight, leading to potential biases in AI models as well as privacy and security concerns. For experts to leverage AI effectively and not lose customer trust, the technology should be actively monitored, with human oversight at all times.
Cogito: A Human-Aware AI Platform
Cogito is a human-aware AI platform that leverages AI to optimize human connections, rather than replace them. In the contact center, every conversation matters, and every interaction is key to being successful, so Cogito harnesses technology to optimize those moments.
Cogito offers a suite of tools, including agent assist (Cogito Companion), quality management & operational coaching with (Cogito Teams), and executive intelligence (Cogito Intelligence), designed to empower customer service professionals, quality managers, and executives with AI-driven insights and guidance.
AI as a Key Contender in the CX Playbook
AI is the key to revitalizing CX and customer service in the face of declining quality. By adopting a human-centered AI approach and leveraging the power of machine learning, businesses can enhance their contact centers and deliver exceptional customer experiences. As we navigate through the challenges and opportunities of AI, it’s crucial to understand its applications, benefits, and potential risks while working with expert AI solutions like Cogito to drive customer service transformation.
This blog recaps the takeaways from Cogito’s webinar held in October 2023. To watch the full session, click here.