Real Talk About Artificial Intelligence: Forrester Says Invest Now

3 min read

I recently had the opportunity to attend a webinar hosted by LivePerson and featuring Forrester discussing artificial intelligence (AI). Forrester presented compelling research looking ahead at the kinds of tasks and job categories that are being automated and turned over partially or wholly to AI.

The presenters made a strong case that AI implementation is not going to put people wholesale out of jobs. (Katabat CTO Ye Zhang agrees.) Rather, it’s going to enhance efficiency and help humans concentrate on tasks where they deliver the most value. A human touch really differentiates itself from AI capabilities in complex customer service interventions, whereas a chatbot can handle looking up flight times perfectly well. AI, then, is about capturing human intelligence and building the architecture around it that will allow it to be executed many times faster than any human could.

People are going to need to upskill to take advantage of the AI-assisted economy. But the result will be work that is more productive. Workers will have more interesting challenges and fewer boring rote tasks. Agents will be focusing on the “hard-to-resolve” or “large value” situations/opportunities. These agents will have a higher education level, and their performance won’t be measured the same way.

The AI Implementation Journey

Organizations need to invest in an AI vision. Bots, machine learning, natural language processing—they will all take time and an enormous amount of data to reach their value. Industry leaders are building the strategy now and expect a convergence between the static strategies we create today and the dynamic strategies that AI will yield. Be prepared to disrupt yourselves.

Forrester predictions:

Growth

Decline

Highly digital jobs will grow: People who design/drive the AI vision, or subject matter experts (SMEs) within the field where the AI is developing.

AI will begin to take over routine, repetitive jobs.

In-person jobs (i.e., field service technician) will go into a growth phase.

Process-driven jobs are at risk.

Supervisors/managers will begin focusing more on analysis.Supervisors/managers will see routine tasks such as quality monitoring automated.
Tier 2 customer service jobs will become more valuable. Picture a customer service agent that contracts themselves out, like the consultants we see today.

Tier 1 customer service jobs will go away (think Philippines).

The Customer Experience During the AI Transition

Forrester is making two predictions:

  1. Contact center management will be pushed to adopt bot technology early.
  2. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) will degrade at first.

From a business planning perspective, implementing a bot in any call center environment just makes too much sense. Yet mistakes will happen during the training phase for the bots.

Forrester’s recommendations to cushion AI deployment effects on CSAT:

  • Monitor the conversations—don’t just let the bots go.
  • Look for opportunities to hand the bot call over to an agent should the call go awry.
  • Let the customer know that they are being passed to a live agent.
  • Roll out bots to agents first—provide real-time data and recommendations to agents.
  • Ideally, use bots and agents simultaneously.
    • Bots are used for parts of the conversations (collecting data, making it readable/usable for agents, making recommendations), but the call is still handed to an agent to resolve.
    • Leverage an “agent assist” bot or “agent-facing bots.”

Agent-assisting AI leverages machine learning technology to augment human efficiency and capabilities.

How can AI Implementation Make Things Better for Customers?

Research shows that 73% of customers say the most important thing to them is for their financial institutions to show that they value their time. These time-sensitive, busy customers expect and want digital to be the first point of contact. They understand the value of automated communications, and expect a simple interaction that moves quickly.

Some channels are more conducive to this approach than others. There’s a growing trend of an erosion to email: Uber, Nike, and others have already shut off the email channel completely. Voice calls often involve a lot of waiting, which customers don’t want. They like SMS, but they don’t want to switch channels mid-conversation. Many institutions don’t have two-way SMS set up to make that consistency happen.

Takeaways

I learned a lot from the webinar. Forrester is optimistic about the end results of automation and AI implementation for businesses, employees, and customers. They don’t make the same dire predictions a lot of people do about bots taking away jobs. The area where they are sounding a note of caution is in strategic focus. If your business is not investing in AI now, you may end up permanently behind your competition.

About

Katabat works hard to make it easier for you to gain satisfied, profitable customers. Analytics, automation, and AI are top of mind, in our current solutions and ongoing development. Katabat is also partnering with AI leader LivePerson to offer Two-Way SMS. Inspire and empower your customers to fulfill activities in one seamless transaction to keep the conversation moving.

Contact me anytime at kchristensen@katabat.com to learn more about Two-Way SMS or our full range of customer experience management products.

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