Artificial Intelligence –The Next Contact Center Reality

January 16, 2017

If you've been in the customer service industry for as long as I have, you're probably asking yourself, "What's up with this artificial intelligence thing that I hear is going to change customer service forever?"
 
Whether it's Forbes talking the future of contact centers or 60 Minutes talking about the impact of human assisted cognitive learning, artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be everywhere.
 
Actually, AI is already affecting our everyday lives. The photo app on my phone and on my Macbook Pro uses AI to analyze and automatically tag faces to sort them into folders and albums. Tesla now has a has a self-driving car that can change lanes and decelerate based on traffic. And Siri seems to be taking over more and more of my daily life – reminding me to pick up my clothes a the cleaners about a mile before I pass the store.
 
At Bluewolf, we believe the real revolution begins as companies embrace the power of AI to help run Customer Service. And if you don't have AI on your radar, the time is now.
  
With high expectations for omnichannel experiences – providing a seamless, consistent experience across all channels – service organizations are finding it harder to keep up. Customers want to communicate with your brand via the messaging tools they use every day (Facebook Messenger, SMS/Text, WhatsApp, etc.). Companies – especially B2C – are already looking for ways to scale to customer expectations across these digital channels.
 
IBM Watson has taken AI technology several steps further, most recently with Watson Virtual Agent – helping reduce costs, make service agents more effective, and improve customer experiences – in real time. And Salesforce, the number one CRM Cloud company in the world, recently announced how it will continue to innovate to engage customers through AI within their Service Cloud application.

At Bluewolf, we believe AI will drive transformation discussions in contact centers for years to come. Let's explore two examples where AI is already helping companies (and self-service customers) succeed today:
 
Intelligent Routing
With tools like Salesforce, we can already pull customer data forward to provide agents with the right information at the right time to have better conversations and share relevant solutions. But what if you could route calls based on multiple forms of disparate customer data? AI can already route calls based who the customer talked to last, the reasons for the contact, product ownership -- the list is endless. AI has the power to "think" through this mountain of data, including the skill level of the agents available, and send the call, email, text, or chat to the best agent, not just the one next available.

Automated Knowledge Management
Salesforce's Service Cloud application can suggest articles most likely to help an agent -- or a customer in a self-service situation. But what if you could do even more? Using machine learning, IBM Watson, and soon Salesforce Einstein, can take unlimited amounts of marketing and product data -- along with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and knowledge articles -- and not just analyze keywords, but learn from the materials and then actually think about how they work together. Now when a customer asks a question, the agent can "ask Watson" and get the answer in real-time and in natural language. Complex cases can be resolved in minutes -- no more manually wading through recommended articles. In some cases, the solution is best supplied person to person, but in many, the propensity for the AI system being right is so high, the answer can go directly to the customer via digital channels.
            
Gartner projects that by 2020 up to 85% of customer interactions will be managed without human involvement. 
 
At Bluewolf, we have already begun working with our customers to use AI to improve their customer experience now. The question remains, "Are you ready for the reality of AI in your future?" We believe the answer must be a resounding, "Yes." Get started on your service AI journey now.

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