We’ve heard lots about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is redefining customer service — and it really hit home for me last week while I was out enjoying dinner and a show with my mother. We’d just shuffled into the theatre, when I realized that my ATM card was missing. Maybe I left it in the restaurant? Never mind, the show was starting soon, so there was no time to run back.
Mom’s always right
I kept double-checking my pockets for my ATM card (no luck!), toying with the idea of waiting until intermission before calling the bank. Don’t worry, it didn’t take long for wisdom to prevail! On my mother’s advice I agreed that it’d be foolish to delay reporting it to the bank and started looking up the bank’s ‘Lost and Stolen’ hotline on my mobile phone.
My call went directly to my bank’s automated IVR and, to be honest, this is when I started to panic and stepped out to the lobby… At this point, I’m thinking, “Oh great! I’m going to miss the beginning of the performance!” But I was pleasantly surprised – and let me tell you why.
Immediately after explaining (to the smart voice-enabled IVR) my reason for calling (“I lost my ATM card and need to cancel”), I was transferred to a live agent who warmly greeted me – by my name, yes I admit I felt like a VIP. The agent explained that my identity was pre-authenticated when I spoke to the automated attendant, so he was pleased to dispatch a new card right away. And that was it! My new card was on the way – and I was back in my seat in time for the performance to start.
The next big thing?
The global evidence is telling: when it comes to self-service, customers want highly personalized, data-driven digital experiences. Is conversational AI the next big thing in customer experience? In many ways, conversational AI is certainly poised to fill that need with advanced voice interfaces and chatbot technologies.
Conversational AI adds a powerful ability that is certain to transform the way consumers interact with businesses. Many of us are already using conversational messaging and digital platforms in place of email, phone calls and face-to-face communication to talk with our family and friends. Today’s consumers expect to be able to communicate with businesses on their favorite platforms, just as they currently do with friends and family because it’s easier, less intrusive and quicker than using other communication channels.
Conversational AI: Solving problems for the contact center
Authenticating identity is just one example of how contact centers are applying conversational AI to transform the service they provide to their consumers. Regardless of industry, customers want to feel like you’re listening to them. This is where conversational AI shines – by connecting with us through natural language. In addition conversational AI offers other pretty compelling benefits for both businesses and consumers:
- Better security: When I called to cancel my ATM card, my bank was able to authenticate my identity more securely than when they ask for an easily-guessed PIN or password. Fraud prevention was in real-time and took much less effort from me. I am thrilled that I don’t have to remember a PIN when I call the bank: As the agent told me, my natural voice is my password.
- Operational efficiency: When I called to report my lost bank card, the call was much shorter than I expected. It felt like a relief to skip the tedious identity verification questions – especially from the packed lobby of the theatre.
- Happier agents: I’m pretty sure that the agent who ultimately fulfilled my need for a new card is happier that he gets to skip having to ask customers the same quasi-interrogation questions over and over again (What city were you born in? What’s your favorite instrument?).
Dig deeper into conversational AI in our upcoming webinar. We’ll explore how contact centers are using artificial intelligence to solve challenges and provide a better service experience to their consumers.