There are notable exceptions but, in general, people are dissatisfied with the level of customer service they receive today. The American Customer Satisfaction Index shows that customer-satisfaction rates have been trending downward for eight consecutive quarters.
Analysts aren’t entirely sure why consumers are so disgruntled, but one explanation is that customers know the companies they interact with have a lot of their personal data on file, and are constantly asking for more. So they are disappointed that all this information isn’t being used to deliver a better customer experience.
Automated voice systems have the potential to deliver great customer service, but as currently applied at many companies, they are among the worst customer-service offenders. Customers get caught in endless loops, unable to reach the correct level or department to accomplish a task. Outgoing calls often feature unintelligible recordings that don’t use customer data effectively, and don’t sound anything like a human being.
Artificial intelligence (AI) applied to a voice automation system can turn this situation around and help companies engage customers more effectively.
Data-driven AI presents a huge opportunity for companies to make customer self-service more personalized and effective. What if, instead of presenting every customer who calls a toll-free service line with a generic menu, a company leveraged the data they already have about that customer and applied rules-based automation to tailor the options to match the customer’s journey? What if, instead of a poor-quality recording of a robotic voice, the automated voice sounded like an actual human being?
Clean Data and Micro-Moments
Customers are understandably insulted when they are treated like a number. But when companies use AI for voice automation, they can engage more effectively, improve loyalty, and increase profits. Companies that deploy the right technical strategy can capitalize on micro-moments – the times when customers make decisions and form preferences in real time, using mobile devices to seek information, formulate plans, and make purchasing decisions.
But harnessing AI and automated voice systems to succeed in the micro-moment space requires clean customer data and a strategy that prioritizes information that is voluntarily shared by customers. It also requires a deliberate approach to collecting and maintaining data, as well as a conscious effort to educate customers about the benefits of keeping their data current, including addresses, email, social media, interests, and other pertinent information.
To enact an effective data-collection and maintenance strategy to power AI-driven automated voice tools, companies should be alert to organic opportunities to communicate with customers about data. They should make the data-updating process as simple as possible, ensuring that it takes place within the normal flow of transactions. For example, if a customer service representative is interacting with a customer in a chatroom and needs a moment to process an order or access product information, she can use that time to validate the customer data on file.
Companies also should closely evaluate the customer journey and look for ways to add new, natural touch points. They’ll need to identify interaction points – virtual and live – and leverage those opportunities to clean up the data they have on file. Customers are more willing than ever to share data in exchange for something of value, and companies should take advantage of that and treat customer-provided data as the valuable commodity that it is.
Using AI to Drive Engagement
In an always connected, mobile-first environment, customer service can happen anytime, anywhere. Companies that want to stand out by delivering an exceptional customer experience have to remember that smartphones are a portal to information and are often an indicator of customer intent, so mapping out the customer journey and being ready for micro-moments is a must. Forward-thinking companies must be prepared to deploy AI to drive engagement.
It all starts with data, so companies should take a proactive approach to collecting and maintaining customer databases. By identifying customer interaction points and viewing transaction processes from the customer’s point of view, companies can make sure they are meeting customer needs and mastering the micro-moments to engage customers and deepen relationships.
Although consumers are generally dissatisfied with the levels of customer service they receive today, it doesn’t have to be that way. In a data-driven economy, where we have the ability to maintain and instantly access a record of every customer preference and interaction, there’s really no excuse for treating customers like a number.
Technology has the power to make things better, and AI can transform automated voice systems from a technology that distances companies from their customers to technology that leverages the available data and the power of the human voice to deliver the highly personalized, relevant experiences customers crave. The future is now for company leaders with the vision to leverage the data and tools at their disposal to improve customer satisfaction.
Founder, President, and CEO of SPLICE Software, Tara Kelly (@TKtechnow) has a passion for enabling clients to engage in a meaningful, Data Driven Dialog ™ with their customers. As a serial entrepreneur who has developed three companies, including one outside the technology field, Tara’s expertise is multidimensional but focused on creating businesses that use technology to enhance operations, service and the customer experience.
As an open-source activist and recognized user experience designer, Tara Kelly served as a board member for the International Board for Voice User Interface Design and the Canadian Cloud Council. In addition to running SPLICE Software, Tara is an adviser for the Special Olympics Toronto, serves on the board of directors for Technology Alberta, and is a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization.
Recognition of Tara’s achievements include Business In Calgary’s Leaders of Tomorrow 2014, Bronze Stevie Award winner for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Canada 2012-14, Profit/Chatelaine W100 2012-14, Profit 500 2013-14, Prairie Finalist for EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2012-13, TechWomen Canada 2013, Calgary’s FastestGrowing Companies 2013, Alberta Venture’s Fast Growth 50 2012, TechRev Innovation Award 2011, and Western Finalist for the RBC CWEA Award 2011.
Subscribe to Data Informed for the latest information and news on big data and analytics for the enterprise, plus get instant access to more than 20 eBooks.