Because as companies route their routine calls to digital channels, they can start to think more creatively about the people they employ to handle the more complex queries.
‘Once you can offer flexible and remote working, you can start to attract parents returning from maternity or paternity leave, semi-retired people, and others who might not want to work 9-5 in a call centre, but would happily work unsociable hours from home’, explains Dr Millard.
Anticipating what customers need before they’ve asked
AI technology is also playing an increasing role behind the scenes, monitoring the market mood and customer sentiment online on web forums and public social networks. Social listening tools, powered by AI engines, can help companies gauge shifting moods, emerging opportunities, or additional groups of users to target with marketing. By understanding more about their preferences, companies can serve up targeted messaging (again, using automation), which closely reflects the way the market is moving and the way people are feeling. Better still, businesses can feed the intelligence back into their development and customer service teams to inspire new products or service innovations.
The more a company is seen to listen to and respond to customers, the better the experience and brand perception. It can also reduce costs for the business: once it is doing more of what they want, customers are less likely to complain. Luxury hotel group Dorchester Collection now uses AI in place of mystery shoppers and customer surveys to help marketing teams get an accurate idea of what guests really want. It delves deep into digital data from real customers to distil even the subtlest customer preferences so it can surprise guests and gain competitive advantage.
Taking advantage of this kind of innovation requires a bit of lateral thinking, and the right tools.
Don’t wait – it’s happening today
Early experimentation will soon give rise to far-reaching applications, thanks to the ease of deploying technology in the cloud and via apps. A recent survey estimated that more than three-quarters of top service teams are already using AI to enhance the customer experience and build better relationships with their customers.
It’s why BT invests so heavily in Research & Development at our Innovation Centre at Adastral Park. A tool we co-developed to improve spare parts distribution, the Intuitu Strategic Planner, recently won an award for the best use of AI in automation. We use it ourselves to visualise our networks, see where our spares are located at our exchanges, and anticipate where needs will pop up. It keeps our networks and services running smoothly, ensuring a consistent customer experience.
In frontline customer service, we expect companies to use AI to spot patterns in massive data sets and to run repetitive tasks, leaving staff to focus on all those human attributes that computers just can’t mimic, like creativity, empathy, caring, negotiation, and intuition.
To find out more about BT’s latest customer service innovations for big business, contact your account manager or call us on 0800 707 6320.