A recent Salesforce/IDC special report revealed some telling predictions about how AI will impact customer service and customer relationships. Among the key takeaways were:
The global market for AI in CRM will jump from $7.9 billion in 2016 to $46.3 billion by 2021.
58 percent of consumers and 75 percent of business buyers say technology has significantly changed their expectations of how companies should interact with them.
By 2020, 51 percent of consumers and 75 percent of business buyers expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions.
The report is an urgent reminder that the AI revolution is in full swing, and businesses should be preparing strategies to both capitalize on its potential and stay competitive. One way to ensure your customer service stays up to par for the age of AI is by moving your contact center to the cloud.
Cloud contact center technology allows you to acquire and leverage the customer data that is necessary to power AI’s machine-learning, needs-predicting power. It also enables you to automate processes so that data can be collected more quickly. The challenge for businesses looking to make the move is knowing which cloud contact center features best meet their needs, and will ensure AI-readiness. Here are some key considerations when making the switch.
If you need to measure and prove contact center KPI attainment, you’ll want to simplify management reporting by consolidating data into a single platform so you can start measuring the metrics that will help your team improve service delivery. Look for a solution that provides deep insight into your contact center and agent performance, including average call time handling, first contact resolution, and customer effort score. Having these metrics gives you the fuel to power AI in the future.
If you want to deliver personalized service to every customer, look for technology that integrates with your CRM solution and uses your customer data – including information on past interactions – to route calls to the agent with the most appropriate skills, geographic location and/or familiarity with the customer. Then, when agents pick up the phone, they have the right information about who is calling and what they want to talk about. You should also explore technology that allows you to customize menus in the IVR and provide personalized self-service that both empowers customers and provides agents more time to focus on complex customer issues. Expect AI to improve this experience over time.
If becoming more omni-channel friendly is your goal – and it should be, as omni-channel is now a core component of customer service – search for a cloud contact center vendor that simplifies the challenge of incorporating multiple communication channels. This will help your customers contact you the way they want to, while allowing you to collect valuable data from each interaction so that the experience is consistent and personalized across every channel.
If you need to balance the service and cost equation, find a solution that empowers your agents to be more productive and even more effective. For example, automatic call activity logging not only enables your agents to spend more time focusing on service, it also ensures they have a robust, centralized and easily accessible database of customer information that can be used to more efficiently route and inform customer interactions. And when AI is applied to this data, it will be possible to comprehensively predict, explain, and prescribe customer behavior to balance the resources your business needs to provide the best service.
If you want to empower your agents and reduce attrition … Staffing costs are estimated to account for 70 percent of contact center budgets, and large centers can experience attrition as high as 30 percent. Look for a vendor that empowers your agents with the right information and tools to help customers, and reduces the associated stress from handling difficult situations with customers. Ask them how they plan to use AI to continue to empower agents and make their experience more rewarding.
With these considerations in mind, you can begin the process of moving your contact center to the cloud, and ensure that your business is able to use AI to its full potential. For more information on how to select a cloud contact center vendor, and why early adopters are racing ahead of their competition, check out “Cloud Contact Centers: What to look for and how to choose,” a new white paper featuring research by Forrester.
Tim Pickard is SVP Marketing at cloud contact center vendor NewVoiceMedia and has over 20 years' experience as a leader in the IT industry.