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Artificial Intelligence has been talked about a lot in the customer service community recently. In particular, organisations have been exploring how machine learning can be used to capture every single customer interaction, so an AI system can support customer service advisors with knowledge of every question ever asked in the past – with the answer. The AI system never forgets and learns more each day.
However, most of the talk around AI has only focused on this supportive role in the contact centre. Recent research has shown that customers are expecting to see industries such as retail making a much better use of these emerging technologies so the shopping experience can be improved.
It is no surprise that customers are making these demands. Look at the kind of intelligent technology most people have around them today. They can ask Siri questions on their iPhone and speak directly to Alexa when at home. The use of intelligent assistants is becoming main stream, so why are retailers not making better use of the options this technology offers?
The 2017 Customer Experience survey published by retail consulting firm BRP suggests that 23% of in-store customers would rather speak immediately to a virtual assistant than wait for a real one. In addition, the same percentage of shoppers would like to have access to a virtual personal shopper when shopping online.
The research suggests that 55% of retailers now consider an improvement to the customer experience to be their top priority and yet the changing expectations of the customer shows that it is often the customer setting the strategic direction for retailers – not the other way round.
45% of retailers have already created an AI chatbot support system for customers, or will implement it inside the next 3 years, with Virtual Reality at 34% for the same time frame. Many retailers are in the midst of trying to rollout omni-channel support and yet some already have an eye on what the customer is expecting in the near future.
I believe that retailers will find that they cannot leave AI in the contact centre alone. Customers increasingly want a personalised service and this lends itself well to AI virtual assistants and chatbots, whether they are on apps, websites, or in-store systems. As AI technologies become normal at home, customers will soon be asking why retailers cannot use technology to offer more supportive and personal help.
What do you think about the rise of AI and the potential impact of customer service? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or get in touch on LinkedIn and let me know.